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1662 - Royal Marriage

1662 saw great rejoicing in Portsmouth when King Charles married the Infanta, Catherine of Braganza in the old Domus Dei. A glimpse of this love match can be gained in their writings of August 1661, when he asks Catherine “to give entire faith and credit to what Sir Richard Fanshawe, his Ambassador, tells her, “especially as touching the assurance of my devoted love, which goes on increasing as the joy of seeing you and the right to call you mine draws nearer, and will do so more and more when you are my own”. In reply to this tender emission Catherine writes “As I cannot have the happiness of myself assuring you of my affection, He (Sir Richard) may testify to you my solicitude, and be the means of alleviating it by begging you to let me hear from you as continually as I pray to God to bring the fleet quickly to carry me to your presence, when, seeing you my longing will be at an end. Meanwhile I beg God to give prosperity to your life upon which all my happiness depends”. It was in April when Catherine started for England under the escort of the Earl of Sandwich and the English Fleet, but storms delayed the passage and she did not reach Portsmouth until May 14th.

At night all the bells of the town rung and bonfires were made for the joy of the Queen’s arrival who landed at Portsmouth last night” - Samuel Pepys.15th May 1662.

On her landing she had her first taste of English beer, which was not to her liking. Orders were sent to her ship for tea; it is said it was the first occasion on which tea was drank in England.

The King arrived in the afternoon of the 20th May and went straight to the Domus Dei where Catherine was lodged. He tried to persuade her to be content with a Protestant form of marriage, but she would not give up a Catholic ceremony and so on the 22nd May Catherine was first of all married privately in the presence of half a dozen people in her private bedroom, according to the Catholic rites. The formal ceremony took place a little later in the day and not in the chapel of the Domus Dei but in the Chamber of Government House and so, unlike most couples, they were married twice. The reason they were not married in the parish church of St Thomas’s is because the tower had still not been repaired from the damage inflicted by the Parliamentary batteries at Gosport during the Civil War.