A new book reveals the links between the first Tudor prince and Farnham Castle where the youngster gained his only experience of peace and seclusion.
Henry VIII is the most recognised king in the annals of England. But had it not been for the early death of his brother Arthur, the infamous ruler would have been little more than a footnote in history.
The new book – Arthur Prince of Wales, Henry VIII’s Lost Brother – explores the short life of the eldest son of Henry VII, the first Tudor king.
Though his life was tragically cut short by a mysterious illness at the age of 15, the book shows how Prince Arthur, young though he was, came tantalisingly close to forging his own future.
While he was born in Winchester, Prince Arthur was soon moved to Farnham Castle. Having come into the world almost certainly a few weeks premature, his parents likely had concerns about moving him too far.
He was still at the castle six months later when the people of the town wasted no time in petitioning the King for a licence for a “perpetual chantry of one chaplain to celebrate divine service at the altar of the Blessed Mary in the north side of the said church”.
They surely reasoned that Henry VII would look favourably on a request from the town where “the king’s first-born son Arthur is now being nursed”.
The book is penned by Gareth Streeter, a history researcher and writer who says: “Too often, Prince Arthur is remembered only for what he never became – the prince who died prematurely and paved the way for the monumental reign of Henry VIII and the dramatic twists and turns of the 16th century.
“Researching and writing this book gave me the opportunity to discover Arthur was far more than that. At the time of his birth, he represented his father’s hopes of a dynasty and England’s greatest chance of peace. As he grew, he witnessed feuds, survived rebellion and became the focal point for an international alliance.
“We’ll never know much about Arthur’s time at Farnham but if he ever looked back on days that were calm and peaceful, they probably took place within the tranquil comforts of the castle.
“Arthur was mercifully absent from the historical records for the first few years of his life and he likely spent them in Farnham, where his nursery was an extension of the household of the Bishop of Winchester.
“With the exception of its distance from London, Farnham was the perfect location to raise a tender prince. The air was clean and the castle provided the perfect balance of comfort and security.
“While we can’t be sure how long Arthur resided there, I argue it was most likely his home and primary base for the first six years of his life.”
Arthur, Prince of Wales: Henry VIII’s Lost Brother is published by Pen & Sword History and is available now for pre-order from www.pen-and-sword.co.uk as well as Amazon, Waterstones and other online book stores.
It will be available in bookshops from May 30.
Gareth Streeter is the creator of Royal History Geeks, a blog and social media experience that engages with 60,000 history lovers across social media.