Katherine Swynford Blue Plaque Campaign

The Katherine Swynford Blue Plaque Campaign seeks to honour the medieval woman, named Duchess of Lancaster, who shook up Lincolnshire life.

Katherine Swynford’s tomb at Lincoln Cathedral

Katherine Swynford was born Katherine de Roet and was the daughter of a Flemish knight. Katherine de Roet was educated at a convent in Romsey. When she was fifteen Katherine de Roet left the convent and joined her sister at the English royal court.

She caught the eye of Hugh Swynford who was a knight in the service of John of Gaunt. Hugh Swynford wanted to marry Katherine de Roet. It was seen as a great match for Katherine as Hugh was a distinguished knight and owned a manor in Kettlethorpe, Lincolnshire.

Katherine and Hugh married in 1366. They appear to have had three children who survived infancy. Hugh Swynford died in 1372 and Katherine’s first child by her lover John of Gaunt was born the following year.

After several years John of Gaunt took the unusual step of marrying his mistress.  They were married on  13 January 1396 at Lincoln Cathedral.  This had the effect of putting rather a lot of noses out of joint. Not only did Katherine become the duchess of Lancaster  but because the king, Richard II, had no queen and John was the next most important man in the country Katherine automatically became the first lady to whom all others had to give way

Katherine died on the 10th May 1403, having outlived John of Gaunt by four years.  She’d survived a period of plague, seen the Peasants revolt and the Hundred Years War as well as having caused a national scandal.  She and her daughter Joan are buried in Lincoln Cathedral having lived quietly in Lincoln in her final years.



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