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Katheryn of Berain, 'The Mother of Wales' (1534/5-1591)

CRONENBURGH, Adriaen van (1520 - 1604)

Katheryn of Berain, 'The Mother of Wales' (1534/5-1591)

Date: 1568

Media: oil on panel

Size: 97.2 x 68.6 cm

Acquired: 1957; Purchase

Accession Number: NMW A 19

Katheryn of Berain clutches a prayer-book and solemnly caresses the contours of a human skull. The skull often occurs in sixteenth-century portraits; the contrast between flesh and bone reminds us of the frailty of life. She appears to be in mourning, but in fact had recently married the royal agent Richard Clough. She is presented as a fitting wife for a wealthy merchant. Her elaborate costume, pale skin and plucked brows were highly fashionable, and the prayer-book confirms her piety.

Katherine was the daughter of Tudur ap Robert Vychan of Berain, Denbighshire (Clwyd) and a direct descendant of Henry VII. She married four times and through her numerous children and step-children was called Mam Cymru - the mother of Wales. Her first husband John, son and heir of Sir John Salusbury of Llewenni, died in 1556. In 1567 she married Sir Richard Clough, a wealthy merchant from Denbigh and partner of the banker Sir Thomas Gresham, who lived in Antwerp and Hamburg. It is likely this portrait was painted in the Northern Netherlands by the Friesian artist van Cronenburgh. Following Clough's death in 1570 she returned to Wales and before 1573 had married Maurice Wynn of Gwydir, who died in 1580. In 1584 she married for the last time Edward Thelwall of Plas y Ward.


Graham Senior-Milne
10 March 2018, 23:21
Berain is at Google/Bing map ref 53.215386, -3.488243. I have visited it. The owners were very friendly when I explained that Katheryn was an ancestor.
Triska Evans
3 November 2017, 00:05
Has anyone heard of the stain in Gwydir Castle which marks the spot where Catrin is supposed to have murdered her husband Richard Clough?
Sara Huws Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
19 September 2017, 10:37

Haia Twm

I also grew up very aware of Catrin and her story, as some of my family also hail from the same area. It is just such a fascinating portrait. I particularly like the jewels - she looks quite plainly dressed until you start counting the diamonds she's wearing!

The publically available information on Berain, which is on private property, can be found on the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales' Coflein service: Berain.

Cofion cynnes,

Digital Team

Twm Sion Catti
18 September 2017, 19:50
A GREAT article bringing back so many memories.
I was born and brought up in Denbigh / Dinbych and reference was often made to Katheryn of Berain, 'The Mother of Wales'.
No-one seemed to know where 'Berain' was / is. There were a number of places which were called Berain but were far too modern to be the original.
I notice that someone has posted that they've been to the building and found it rather small. However, the writer didn't give a precise location.
Any clues, or exact details, please.


18 August 2017, 20:07
I just discovered and confirmed that Katrin was my 12× great grandmother through her marriage to my 12× great grandfather, Sir John Salusbury. How cool is that. Now what?
Janet Kemp
25 November 2016, 04:07
I am a descendant of The Mother of Wales through her marriage to Sir John Salisbury... I notice the name was spelled Salusbury back then. ??
Yet another descendant
29 September 2016, 10:42
Katheryn Tudor was my 11th g-grandmother. Her g-g-grandmother was Catherine of Valois, the Queen Consort to England's King Henry V, mother of Henry VI, and daughter of France's King Charles VI.
11 September 2016, 21:57
She is my 13th great grandmother. I was hoping there was more information on her family line going further back. There is so much inaccurate information on the internet and it is extremely difficult when it comes to Wales when there were no surnames.
28 December 2015, 23:07
I am a descendant of Morris Wynne and Jane Buckley of Gwydyr. Catherine Tudor of Berain was the stepmother of my ancestor Sir John Wynn. She was believed to be the great-granddaughter of Henry Tudor, King of England and Earl of Richmond. My ancestor, George Wynne, was born in 1675 and was sent to Isle of Wight County, Virginia by his relative William Williams. George later moved to Bertie County, North Carolina where he lived until his death in 1751. My great-grandmother was Elizabeth Wynne Cowan, wife of Charles Edward Cowan. My grandparents were Essie Cowan and Duncan Winston Miller of Bertie County. You will find my family history on the site made Sally Moore Koestler. The name was also spelled Wynn and Wynns. If you decide not to publish this, please tell me why.
Sara Huws Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff
10 December 2014, 10:28

Hi Rachel - please visit the link below to learn more about print on demand and image licensing:
Print on Demand

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