7 July 1517: St. Thomas Day Banquet at Greenwich

Anonymous painting of Greenwich Palace during the reign of Henry VIII. [Wiki]

Anonymous painting of Greenwich Palace during the reign of Henry VIII. [Wiki]

On 7 July 1517, a lavish banquet was held for the Emperor’s Ambassadors at Greenwich. The tables above show where several of the notables, including the King and Queen, sat. The banquet seems to have been largely a Howard family event.

The banquet was held on St Thomas’s day that is to say the summer feast the 7th of July. There were in all thirty three people seated at the banquet. The King had the centre place at the upper table; Queen Katherine was on his right and Cardinal Wolsey on hers; on the King’s left was the French Queen [Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk] and the Emperor’s Ambassador was beside her. Then at the side tables with English peers and peeresses sat the Ambassadors of France, Aragon, and Venice. To attend on these thirty three persons no less than 250 names are given in a paper that was drawn up beforehand and these are almost all lords or knights. How they could avoid being in one another’s way is the difficulty. For instance Lords Abergavenny, Fitzwalter, Willoughby, and Ferrers to hold torches while the King washes. To bear towels and basons for the King the Earl of Surrey, Lords Richard Grey, Leonard Grey, and Clinton, Sir Maurice Berkeley, and eight other knights. The King’s server was Sir William Kingston and to attend on him Lord Edmund Howard [father of the future Queen Katherine] and fourteen knights the last named of whom is Sir Adrian Fortescue. To help the Vice-chamberlain in the ordering of the company, Sirs Thomas Parr [father of the future Queen Katherine] and John Peche. At the third mess, the French Queen’s servant; to attend on him, Sirs William Parr [brother to Sir Thomas and uncle to the future queen] and several others.

Seating Chart of the banquet at Greenwich on St. Thomas Day, 1517.

Seating Chart of the banquet at Greenwich on St. Thomas Day, 1517. Thanks to my friend Katherine for this.

At the head table:

  • Card
  • Queen Katherine
  • King Henry
  • French Queen Mary Tudor
  • Emperor’s Ambassador

The table on the left:

  • Duchess of Norfolk
  • French Ambassador
  • Countess of Surrey
  • Bishop of Spain
  • Lady Elizabeth Boleyn [mother of the future Queen Anne]
  • Provost of Cassel
  • Lady Howard [mother of the future Queen Katherine]
  • Duke of Nofolk
  • Lady Guildford, the elder
  • Lord Marques
  • Lady Willoughby
  • Earl of Surrey
  • Lady FitzWilliam
  • Lady Marques

The table on the right:

  • Mons. Dancye
  • Lady Elizabeth Stafford
  • Knight of the Toyson
  • Countess of Oxenford
  • Ambassador of Venice
  • Lady Elizabeth Gray
  • Duke of Suffolk [Charles Brandon]
  • Lady Abergavenny
  • Bishop of Durham [perhaps Cuthbert Tunstall]
  • Lady Montjoy
  • Earl of Kent
  • Mistress Mary Fynes [Mary Fiennes]


  1. ‘Henry VIII: July 1517, 1-10’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 2: 1515-1518 (1864), pp. 1092-1102. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90948&strquery=william+parr Date accessed: 07 July 2013
  2. John S. Brewer, Robert H. Brodie, James Gairdner. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII.:Preserved in the Public Record Office, the British Museum and Elsewhere: 1517 – 1518, Volume 2, Issue 2, H.M. Stationery Office, 1864.
  3. John Morris. The Venerable Sir Adrian Fortescue, knight of the bath, knight of St. John, martyr, Burns and Oates, 1887.

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