Elizabeth I: the Child, the Lover and Warrior Queen

This packed, fully escorted tour traces the life of England’s Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I and her suitor, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

Elizabeth I, The Virgin Queen, was England’s Monarch for 45 years and created the enduring legacy of the Elizabethan age. Her early life was spent in a chaotic extended family, never really knowing her place or her father, Henry VIII. She suffered uncertainty in her early life first as a Princess and then mere Lady, abuse and imprisonment before finally becoming Queen. In perhaps one of the most famous romances in English History, Elizabeth was courted by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who spent millions of pounds in today’s money on his quest to marry her but to no avail.

The defeat of the Spanish Armada in August 1588 was Elizabeth’s finest hour as she stood with her small army and Robert Dudley at Tilbury and prepared to die with them in defence of the Realm. Her call to her people at Tilbury, one of the most inspirational leadership speeches in history, is vividly recalled by this Tour.

Our tour traces Elizabeth’s childhood life at Hatfield House and where she was given the news that she was now, finally Queen of England. We visit one of the most expensive and extravagant public displays of love: Kenilworth Castle. Painstaking research by English Heritage has allowed the restoration of the gardens that Robert Dudley constructed in his attempt to woo Elizabeth in August of 1575. We see Tilbury Fort protecting the gateway to London, scene of her most famous and stirring speech to her troops, and then to Upnor Castle in Kent, the only castle that she ordered to be built during her long reign. One that finally saw real action in the Dutch raid of 1667.

As with all our tours, the hotels at which we stay are specially chosen for their historic importance, character and charm. Typically they have low oak beamed ceilings, inglenook fireplaces and some even allegedly have ghosts. The tour cost includes bed and breakfast and evening meals, all transport and entry to venues. Transfers to and from the start and end points of the tour are not included but can be arranged on request. See the full terms and conditions of Tudor History Tours.

Day One

We meet in London at the starting point of the tour and go straight to Kenilworth Warwichshire, where we see the church of St Nicholas in Old Kenilworth. Here Dudley and Elizabeth prayed together during that glorious summer progress of 1575 before we go to Kenilworth Castle. Here we gaze in wonder at the beautifully restored gardens and marvel at Duldey’s passion that made him spend millions on this extravagent display of love. We spend the night at our first hotel in Old Kenilworth. For those of you who want to taste some real ale, we can visit a pub very close to hand dating back to the 1500s.

Day Two

Before traveling back to north London, we visit the Earl of Leycester Hospital, commissioned by Dudley as a retirement home for Elizabeth’s soldiers and their wives’ and still in use as such today, again in a vain attempt to prove his suitability as a husband. We also visit Robert Dudley’s last resting place in a spellbinding Gothic chapel in St Mary’s church in Warwick. Hatfield House in Hertfordshire is our next stop. This is Elizabeth’s childhood home and where we explore her early life, reliving the time when she was informed that she had finally become Queen of England. Scenes from Cate Blanchett’s epic film “Elizabeth”, were filmed at Hatfield. Here we partake of a superb evening at a Tudor banquet with entertainment and food served by wenches in the magnificent great Hall of the Old Palace where Elizabeth actually partied. We spend the night at an old Inn nearby to Hatfield .

Day Three

After breakfast, our progress takes us to visit Tilbury Fort and the nearby scene of Elizabeth’s most famous speech that put strength and heart into her troops before the Spanish Armada was set to land.

I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a King. And a King of England too.”

Robert Dudley was her Lieutenant General in the field that day.

We travel to Upnor Castle near Rochester in Kent, the only castle Elizabeth commanded to be built, to continue the story of the Warrior Queen. When Elizabeth visited Upnor the immortal words, “Britannia rules the waves” were spoken for the very first time. Then on to Penshurst Place in Kent home of the Sidney family for 450 years. Henry Sidney was brother-in-law to Dudley. Penshurst is a beautiful, historic treasure. It weaves in and out of the Tudor story and was even given as a divorce settlement to Anne of Cleves.

There are some fine paintings showing Elizabeth and Dudley including them dancing the scandalous “La Volta”, on display in the very room that the event depicts took place. Penshurst is a much used filming venue with many costume dramas and there are some costumes currently on display from some of those films including “The Other Boleyn Girl”. We stay the night in London in a hotel near to the Thames and close by the Globe theatre where we see a play during the season from April 23rd to the end of September.

Day Four

We visit the Tower of London, steeped in the nation’s history for nearly 1000 years, as a fortress, Royal residence and a prison, It is here Elizabeth was imprisoned by her sister Mary, finally we visit Westminster Abbey, scene of the coronation of all Englands monarchs dating back to William Conqueror and the last resting place of Elizabeth. The tour ends here at approximately 4.00pm.

 

 

This tour is operated by Tudor History Tours sold by Special Group Tours with permission

 

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