Originally Written: August 11, 2019
A city near our home and bursting with modern conveniences, Peterborough is the perfect place to pop in for a morning. There is a train that runs into the city center, but on our first visit we drove our car and parked in the Queensgate Parking Garage. We stayed approximately five hours on a weekend, and it cost us four pounds. A bit on the hefty side, but well worth it for access to the mall and restaurants.
Everyone who has read my London updates knows I’m a sucker for all things Tudor. The War of the Roses, Henry the VIII’s wives, the breakaway from the Catholic Church, it all fascinates me to no end. When I found out my favorite queen was entombed in a local church, I might have went into a frenzy. Within a day of discovering that tidbit of news, I penciled in a day to go check out the sacred site.
Peterborough Cathedral was first built in 654 AD but has been restored several times throughout history due to fire and war. The official website: Peterborough Cathedral gives a detailed timeline of important events that transpired within the grounds, and if you have the time read a little about Robert Scarlett.
Nowadays, the cathedral is run through volunteers who greet visitors upon arrival and provide a few interesting facts about the building. There are free tours offered that last about an hour, but the volunteer suggested it might be boring for the kids so we skipped it this time.
Next to the volunteer station (and an Apple Pay machine for quick donations) is a small gift shop which sells an activity booklet for children named Monks, Mischief, and Marauders. For two pounds, kids can use the pages to find notable objects around the cathedral, read funny jokes, and learn a little history. For kids that are seasoned readers, this is the perfect way to keep them interested in the sights while the adults look around at their leisure.
The highlight of the day was visiting Queen Katharine of Aragon’s tomb.
Followed by the former burial place of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Not to be missed, though, was the ceiling of the cathedral. (Peterborough houses one of the only cathedrals in England to have a hand painted wooden ceiling.)
My family finished our tour within the cloister walls, letting the kids enjoy a snack in the sunny courtyard and admiring the ancient walls.
These doors used to be the gateway for monks to enter to and from work from their living quarters.
I loved living in Germany and traveling throughout central Europe, but the U.K. takes that appreciation to another level. There’s something to be said about visiting a famous tomb and understanding why the item has significance. I almost got chills reading Katharine of Aragon’s plaque, standing close to all that was left of a woman who never wavered in her faith even after she suffered so many losses in pregnancy, her first husband, and the abandonment by her beloved second husband. History can feel a bit like a fictional story when studied from the comforts of home and school, but when you’re standing in front of tangible proof it brings everything into focus. I’d like to think I can visit more places in England and reflect on the past while also using the study to propel me forward with current events.
Blending what has been with what can be, learning from the people before us and thinking about the future, these are skills I strive towards for myself and my children. I hope we can all enjoy seeing the resting place of a former queen, reflect on her inner strength, and return to our home with all its technology and figure out how to try make our own mark on the world.