Hans Holbein shows Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves his etchings. Some day his prints will come.
I am ashamed to admit something. I had never been to Rochester in Kent before. There, I've said it and I feel better for getting it off my chest. After doing various bits of work for Visit Kent at the ExCel Arena in London and down at the Dover Cruise Terminal (see various blog entries in the past about all that) my name had got to the good people at Rochester Cathedral and Rochester Castle. Now Rochester looms large in the history of Henry VIII as it was at this Kent city that our rotund Tudor hero first met Anne of Cleves, his fourth wife. The Cathedral people had decided to cash in on the 500th anniversary of Henry's accession to the throne in 1509 by staging a "re-enactment" of this first meeting, which originally didn't go very well - luckily our interpretation of it seemed far more successful.
I had driven down to Kent on the Monday afternoon and stayed with my sister and her husband at their lovely house near Sittingbourne. We had a lovely evening eating curry and then Cathy (my sister) and I spent the rest of the night jamming together on guitars and mandolin. Fun fun fun, but probably not if you were a true music lover. The following morning I drove up to Rochester, as I have said before, my first visit to this lovely city, and it truly is lovely to look at. The castle and Cathedral, sitting cheek by jowl, are amazing to see. I was lucky enough to be able to park right next to the Cathedral's back door! I was then introduced to the actor playing Holbein for the re-enactment - a really nice man who I think was called Andrew, but if I have the name wrong I apologise profusely. Then entered the actress playing Anne of Cleves, a delightful little lady called Kiri Bloom - a name you don't forget in a hurry. She had made her own costume, which was brilliant, and additionally she was only 4 feet 11 inches tall, so she looked very sweet and vulnerable next big nasty old Henry. The plan for the day was simple, we would ponce around the Cathedral for a while to begin with, having promotional photos taken and also speaking to any press that turned up (the only press that turned up was BBC Radio Kent) before making our way round to the war memorial outside the Cathedral where we would do our two interpretations of Henry's meeting with Anne, one at 11am and one at 12 noon. We would be preceded by Rochester's town crier who would announce us and on we'd go. A script had been drawn up the day before the show, but we were only to use it as a vague outline of what to do, improvisation was the name of the game today. The two morning presentations went very well, lots of laughs and impromptu asides and the audience seemed to enjoy it. The second one was probably the best of the two.
We were treated to a sumptuous lunch at a pub near the Castle called the something or other Vaults - didn't quite catch the name, but it was very very good. It was fun walking down the pub with all three of us still in costume. After lunch we were up at the Castle wandering about meeting people and we were requested to do the interpretation again - and so we did for a third time! More fun! Then it was back to the Cathedral another little wander about and then that was about it. A really fun day.
I drove back up to Essex, met up with Amanda and James and we then drove up to Maldon for an evening meal with Kevin and Ann Rowley and their lovely mostly grown-up children, Rachel, Charlotte and Michael. It was a perfect end to a very lovely day. Tired today, but happy.