Joan was described by a writer as “a lady of great beauty and parts, a favourer of the Reformed religion when the times were most dangerous.”
Joan came to court and joined the household of Katherine of Aragon as a maid-of-honor. Joan was sponsored by her uncle, Sir Gawin Carew. This same Gawin may have been the husband of another lady in Katherine of Aragon’s household, the former Mary Wotton, widow of Sir Henry Guildford. It was also in the household of Katherine of Aragon that Joan met Lady Maud Parr, mother of the future queen. Joan would go on to serve Lady Parr’s daughter, Katherine.
Joan was married to Anthony Denny, privy councillor and royal favourite of Henry VIII, in 1538. A grant had been made that year, in February, to Sir Anthony of the site of the former priory of St. Mary’s, near Hertford. He was also granted the manors of Hertford Priory. Their marriage took place between February and June of that year as Privy Purse expenses included “item, given to Mistress Denny’s servant for bringing sturgeons 2/-“.
In 1539, Anthony and Joan were part of the welcoming party that met Anne of Cleves.
In 1542, Denny was appointed Keeper of the royal Mansion of Hatfield.
Joan Denny held a position at court in the household of Queen Katherine Parr. Joan was a Protestant and is said to have protected persecuted reformers in Devon. In 1546, she was one of the women who was implicated in the persecutions at court by the Catholic faction. Most of the ladies of Queen Katherine Parr were interrogated and mistreated by those wanting to get rid of the queen due to her religious beliefs and practices. The Queen was never tried, but an arrest warrant was drawn up. Luckily for Katherine, she talked her way out of it. Henry accepted Katherine’s pleas and the two made up.
After the death of King Henry, Joan retired from court service. She would, however, have a special guest join her and her husband early on in the reign of King Edward VI. Princess Elizabeth was sent away from the Dowager Queen Katherine’s household after she was caught in an embrace between her and Admiral Seymour by the Queen. She joined the household of Sir Anthony and Joan Denny for some time.
- Joan Champernoune [Champernon], daughter of Sir Philip Champernoune [Champernon] of Modbury, Devon, and wife of Sir Anthony Denny (d.1549) (Oil painting) | V&A Search the Collections
- Carlile, James William. Archaeological Studies on the Two Manors of Ponsbourne & Newgate Street in the Parish of Bishop’s Hatfield, Co. Herts, Simson and Company, 1906. Google eBook