Butler Rally 2018: London July 5 to 8 (Updated Jan 31)

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Updated January 31, 2018

NOTE: Below is the latest agenda for the July rally in London. We hope to have a general idea of pricing within the next few weeks. Pricing will be listed according to event, so that people can choose the events they wish to attend. For accommodation, we will look for a range of hotels in the area of central London nearest the activities.

Updates on the above and more will be explained in an email sent to paid-up members of the Butler Society in early February. To renew your membership, you can go to the website shop.


London July Rally and Triennial General Meeting

Following quickly on the success of the 50th in Kilkenny, our regular triennial rally will hop across the Irish Sea to London from Thursday 5 to Sunday 8 July 2018.

Preparations are well underway for a remarkable and family-friendly weekend in pursuit of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond, and his great granddaughter, Queen Anne Boleyn.

We will follow them through the places across Greater London where they lived, loved, fought and died.

Our guides include:

– A Butler Society member who grew up the Tower of London, adjoining the room where Anne Boleyn spent her last days.

– An address to the society by Alison Weir, author of more than 20 books on the Tudor era, including highly regarded biographies of all of the six queens of Henry VIII.

Dramatis Personae:

Anne Boleyn: The second of Henry VIII’s six wives, Anne’s grandmother was born in Kilkenny Castle. Anne grew up in Hever Castle, near London. To marry Anne, Henry broke England from the Roman Catholic Church, but her brief reign ended at the Tower of London with her beheading.

Thomas Butler 7th Earl of Ormond, P.C., known by the Irish as ‘The Earl of Wool’ was one of the king’s wealthiest subjects. He owned no fewer than 72 manors in England, in addition to extensive properties in Kilkenny and Tipperary. In 1489 he was created Lord Ormond, a barony in the peerage of England, by Henry VII.  This was in addition to his Irish earldom, but having no son, fell into abeyance between his daughters at his death in 1515.

Lady Margaret Butler, daughter of Thomas Butler. Born in Kilkenny Castle, Margaret married Sir William Boleyn and her descendants included two queens. She was the paternal grandmother of Anne Boleyn and great-grandmother Anne’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I.

William Marshal, the 1 Earl of Pembroke and William Marshal the 2nd Earl of Pembroke: The first earl, a signatory of the Magna Carta, is buried alongside his son, the second earl, in Temple Church. The second Earl of Pembroke built the first stone castle on the site of today’s Kilkenny Castle in 1213 that was later sold to Ormond Butlers in 1391.

Our Agenda (Still draft and may be subject to change):

Although looking into the legacy of the Butler family, our aim is to attract the next generations and build ties for the future. For that reason, we welcome families with children. That said, the privileged access accorded by our many generous hosts will require appropriate levels of decorum from all ages.

Thursday July 5

An afternoon welcome reception with tea at the House of Lords. We will have a rare insider’s access to Westminster Palace, one of England’s architectural gems, immortalised in poetry and painting. Anne Boleyn features in paintings in the palace. Dinner is free choice, though we will suggest some restaurants nearby. Children are welcome.

Friday July 6

Day trip to Hever Castle, the Boleyn family home where Anne grew up. Hever was painstakingly restored and adorned with period antiquities and art by the Astor Family in the late 20th century. The current owners, the Guthrie family, will kindly open the castle and grounds early for the Butler Society.

The Guthrie family has maintained the castle’s intimate feel and filled the grounds with enough activities to justify a day trip from London to entertain all ages, from children to playful adults. These include a giant children’s castle, yew maze, archery training, a water maze (jets of water), rowing lake and other activities. Children are welcome, especially those with an interest in history and historical sports like archery. The Castle itself is not easy for those in wheelchairs.

Saturday July 7

A boat trip on the Thames to visit the Tower of London, where Anne was imprisoned by Henry until she was beheaded. We will hear from official guides but also a Butler family member who grew up in the Tower, spending time in the room where Anne was held captive.

In the evening, we will gather at the historic and elegant Merchant Taylors’ Hall located on the appropriately named Threadneedle St. in the City of London. First we will hear distinguished historian Alison Weir present a fictionalised account of the life of Margaret Butler. The presentation will be followed by a banquet at this remarkable building. It is the seat of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors, one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London surviving from Medieval times.

Sunday July 8

Service in the historic Temple Church, a landmark that has featured in literature ranging from Shakespeare (Henry IV, part 1) to Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code). The church has an effigy of William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, who built the first stone version of Kilkenny Castle. His father, the first Earl of Pembroke was a signatory to the Magna Carta and is also buried there. The church is a late 12th-century church in the City of London located between Fleet Street and the River Thames, built by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters.

The service will be followed by brief account of William Marshal by the master of the temple, Robin Griffith-Jones, and a very child-friendly picnic in the Inner Temple Garden featuring a bouncy castle and games.

Accommodation: We will identify hotels at a range of prices in central London.

Cost: We do not yet have costs, but will make them clear as soon as we do. From the above agenda, you can see the rally will be a fun and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Updates on pricing and agenda will be emailed to paid up members registered on the butlersociety.org website.



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