Our Tudor women historic tour embraces the lives of wives, sisters and courtiers in the turbulent Tudor century. Some of the women we meet on our tour were powerful in their own right, others held power more discretely. A few were victims of politics of the age and all have a story to tell. This tour looks closely at where and how they lived together with how they fit into the rich history and tapestry of Tudor Times.
This packed 7 nights, 8 day fully escorted tour follows the journeys of over a dozen influential women of their age. We follow the love lives of Anne Boleyn and her daughter, Elizabeth. We become embroiled in the intrigue that almost led to Civil War as Lady Jane Grey vies for the throne as a young teenager. We look at the lives of Bess who risked her life protecting Catholics and Mary Sidney who some say wrote Shakespeare’s plays.
It’s a morning start to our tour with a visit to Hatfield House close to London. The estate has been in the Cecil family for 400 years. Henry VIII, used it as a home for his children, Edward, Elizabeth and Mary and it was Elizabeth’s childhood home. It was while she was living in the Old Palace, in 1558, that Elizabeth learned of her accession to the throne whilst she was by a tree in the deer park.
Here you can see some of Elizabeth’s own clothing and letters she wrote, together with magnificent portraits of her as Queen. There is also a letter from Henry VIII complaining of how he was “badly handled” over Anne of Cleves and how unattractive he found her. He never called her “the Flander’s mare”.
In the evening we will dine at The George, the tavern in London where Shakespeare was known to frequent and where, we ask, could he have based his balcony scene for Romeo and Juliet.
We travel south out of London to visit Hever Castle in Kent, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Perhaps one of the most famous love stories in history, Anne was considered a vivacious courtier by some, a witch by others. Thanks to her Henry broke from the Catholic church and the Reformation followed.
Hever reflects the atmosphere of the Tudor period and there are jousting tournaments held on some days during the season. Nearby Penshurst Place is an important house in the Tudor story. It was also given to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII. 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 using the Great House, gardens and Baron’s Hall as sets. At Penshurst and group numbers permitting Hands-on-History will give a real live demonstration and re-enactment of life in Tudor Times.
We then return to our London hotel.
We travel north out of London to visit Buckden Towers, the Bishop’s Palace in Cambridgeshire, where Catherine of Aragon lived before she was forcibly taken to Kimbolton Castle near Huntingdon and where she later died. Kimbolton is not generally open to the public but a special guided tour has been arranged by appointment to Tudor History Tours. We then travel to Peterborough Cathedral where Catherine is buried. Fresh flowers are always to be found laid on the simple marble slab marking her last resting place.
Mary, Queen of Scots was also buried here before being exhumed and re-interred at Westminster Abbey. We spend the night at a charming riverside hotel established in 947 in Stamford.
After breakfast we travel to Kenilworth Warwickshire, where we visit Kenilworth Castle. You will gaze in wonder at the beautifully restored privy gardens and marvel at Duldey’s passion that made him spend millions on this extravagant display of love during that glorious summer progress of 1575.
Baddesley Clinton is an atmospheric house dating from the 15th century and was the home of the Ferrers family for 500 years. The house and interiors reflect its heyday in the Elizabethan era, when it was a haven for persecuted Catholics – there are three priest’s holes.
There is a contemporary English Tapestry of that glorious summer progress featuring Dudley and Elizabeth and Cate Blanchet’s Elizabeth the Golden Age was filmed here.
If we have time we can also visit Robert Dudley’s last resting place in a spellbinding Gothic chapel in St Mary’s church in Warwick.
We spend the night at a hotel in Old Kenilworth built around an old oak tree dating back to 1538. For those of you who want to taste some real ale, we can visit a pub very close to hand also dating back to the 1500s.
Our next stop is Coughton Court which has been home to the Throckmorton family, one of the UK’s oldest Catholic families for 600 years. Bess Throckmorton, Queen Elizabeth’s favourite Lady-in-Waiting until she married Sir Walter Raleigh without permission. There are priceless artefacts such as the chemise reputedly worn by Mary Queen of Scots when she was executed and a bishop’s Cope, with intricate needlework, believed to have been worked upon by Catherine of Aragon.
We travel to Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire , a grand manor house and the family home of Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife. Catherine is buried in a peaceful setting in St Mary’s church within the wonderful grounds. This splendid Castle was largely ruined by Oliver Cromwell’s forces, but a part is still occupied and is in private ownership. There are numerous unusual sculptures within the grounds.
We stay an historic Hotel situated on the banks of the River Dunn in the thriving market town of Hungerford. Once given to Anne of Cleves as part of the divorce settlement.
It’s an early start to travel to The Vyne built in the 16th century for Lord Sandys, Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain and the “power house” of a great Tudor courtier. After the Civil War it became home to the Chute family for more than 300 years.
The early 16th-century stained glass windows in the chapel feature Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. They were hidden in a pond during the civil war to prevent Cromwells’ troops destroying them. The upper Oak Gallery is one of the very few long galleries surviving from the first half of the 16th century and richly decorated with linen-fold oak panels with carved emblems of Henry and Catherine.
Our accommodation for the night sits on the banks of the River Thames and was used by Charles II as accommodation for royal guests at nearby Hampton Court Palace.
Hampton Court Palace is perhaps the most famous Palace in the English speaking world. It is the only surviving palace out of the 60 that Henry VIII built or confiscated. Henry married two of his wives here and one of them died here.
We return to a central London hotel to prepare for an entertaining evening at a medieval banquet.
Our tour finishes after a leisurely breakfast where transport is arranged to a mainline London railway station. Extra visits to other London sights such as the British Museum and the Portrait Gallery can be arranged if requested before the tour starts.
This tour is operated by Tudor History Tours sold by Special Group Tours with permission
BOOKING CONTACT: Special Group Tours
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