Kat Ashley

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Katherine 'Kat' Ashley (formerly Champernowne) as played by Maude Hirst

born c. 1490 - died 1565
Character's backstory
Kate was the daughter of Sir Philip Champernon of Bere and Modbury in Devon. Sir Philip engaged in learned discussions about his family history with the antiquary, John Leland. It also looks like he gave his children the benefits of the new interest in classical scholarship. One daughter, Joan turned out to be something of a 'blue-stocking', while Kate soon after her appointment took Princess Elizabeth Tudor's education in hand herself. Roger Ascham, the greatest educationalist of the century and briefly Elizabeth's tutor as well, also sang Kate's praises but counselled, delicately against her forcing the pace with Elizabeth too much. "The free [sharp] edge is soon turned, if it be not handled thereafter", he remarked. But Ascham with all his experience underestimated the girl: Elizabeth's wits were tough as well as sharp and far from being blunted, acquired an extra edge from Kate's rigourous honing. With the precociousness that she inherited from her father, she soon exhausted Kate's own stock of learning and William Grindal took over as Elizabeth's main teacher.
[source: David Starkey's Elizabeth]

Through her mother, Kat descended from Edward I and Eleanor of Castile. She also descended from the daughter of Henry, Prince of Scotland, Earl of Huntingdon and his wife Ada Warenne; Matilda of Huntingdon, Princess of Scotland.

Gentility: Gentlewoman.

Position: Governess to the Princess Elizabeth Tudor; Lady-in-Waiting to Anne of Cleves (only in the series) First Lady to the Bedchamber (after Elizabeth became Queen).

Personality type:

Signature look:

Endearing trait(s): Her devotion to serving Princess Elizabeth Tudor.

Annoying trait(s):
Maude Hirst as Kat Ashley

"...great labour and pain in bringing
of me up in learning and honesty"

~ Elizabeth I comments on Kat's early devotion to her

" we are more bound to them that bringeth us up well than to our parents, for our parents do that which is natural for them -- that is bringeth us into this world -- but our bringers up are a cause to make us live well in it" ~ Elizabeth

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Family members:
Father: Sir John of Dartington Champernowe
Mother: Lady Margaret Courtenay of Molland
Sister: Jane 'Joan' Champernowne (c. 1505 - 10 Sep 1553) (lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Parr; wife of Anthony Denny; King Henry VIII's trusted servant)
Brother: Sir Philip of Modbury Champernowe (c. 1479 - 2 Aug 1545) (husband to Catherine Carew).

Sir John Ashley (m. 1545) - He was a senior gentleman attendant of Princess Elizabeth Tudor and Kat was over 40 at the time of marriage.

Princess Elizabeth Tudor; later Queen Elizabeth I of England
Queen Catherine Parr
Anne Parr, Lady Herbert
Joan Guildford

Enemies: Princess Mary Tudor (when Mary became Queen, Kat's husband went into exile, but Kat stayed with the Princess Elizabeth).
Anne Stanhope, Lady Seymour (after her husband became Lord Protector)
Bishop Stephen Gardiner
Sir Thomas Wriothesley (Risley in the series)



  • "I believe that I can trust you, I think that your family are reformers?" - Catherine Parr. "Yes, madame." - Kat Ashley. "Lady Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn, was also a Lutheran and a reformer. I suppose it is my duty therefore to bring the daughter up in her mother's faith. Would you have any objection to that Mistress Ashley?" - Catherine Parr. "None, your Majesty, I would be proud to help the Princess thus honour the memory of her mother, who's life and thus faith too many have easily disparaged." - Kat Ashley. "Good, then I will appoint as her tutor Roger Ascham, he is also one of us... oh, Mistress Ashley, this conversation never happened." - Catherine Parr.


    • When Margaret Bryan that she should find a decent husband who is too dumb for politics and she'll be lucky if she doesn't die of the plague or in childbirth, after Kat thinks it is unfair that Elizabeth's household is being stripped to pay for her mothers imprisonment.
    • When she promises Catherine Parr that she will help bring up Elizabeth in the "new religion"; that Anne Boleyn would want her daughter to be brought up in.


    Kat Ashley
    Kat Ashley
    Portrait of Kat Ashley by an unknown artist.
    Kat Ashley as played by Maude Hirst
    Kat Ashley talks with Catherine Parr about Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn.

    Kat ashley played by Maude Hirst King Henry VIII, Lady Elizabeth and Kat Ashley
    Kat Ashley watches on as King Henry VIII
    introduces Princess Elizabeth Tudor
    to his new Queen, Katherine Howard
    Season 4
    Kat ashley played by Maude Hirst
    Kat Ashley as played by Maude Hirst
    Kat & ElizabethKat & Elizabeth
    Kat Ashley & Anne of Cleves
    Season Three

    Kat Ashley as played by Maude Hirst
    Maude Hirst
    Season Two
    Lady Bryan & Kat Ashley
    Lady Margaret Bryan tells Kat that she should find a decent husband who is too dumb for politics and she'll be lucky if she doesn't die of the plague or in childbirth.