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A Journey Through Tudor England: Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London to Stratford-upon-Avon and Thornbury Castle

A Journey Through Tudor England: Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London to Stratford-upon-Avon and Thornbury Castle

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A Journey Through Tudor England: Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London to Stratford-upon-Avon and Thornbury Castle

391 pages
6 heures
Jun 4, 2013


From King Henry VII to Queen Elizabeth I, this detailed English history brings the past to life through the sights and personalities of the Tudor dynasty.

This lively and engaging book will transport the armchair traveler with a taste for the colorful time of Henry VIII and Thomas Moore to palaces, castles, theaters, and abbeys to uncover the stories behind the politically dynamic Tudor era.
Author Suzannah Lipscomb visits more than fifty historic sites, from the luxurious palace at Hampton Court, where dangerous intrigue was rife, to lesser known estates such as Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, and Tutbury Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned.
In the corridors of power and the courtyards of country houses, we meet the passionate but tragic Kateryn Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, and Lady Jane Grey, the Nine–Days’ Queen, and we come to understand how Sir Walter Raleigh planned his trip to the New World.
A Journey Through Tudor England reveals the rich history of the Tudors and paints a vivid, captivating picture of what it would have been like to see England through their eyes. It is “a genuinely useful and discriminating guide for all Tudor fans” (Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall).   
Jun 4, 2013

À propos de l'auteur

Suzannah is a historian and TV presenter, and a Senior Lecturer at the New College of the Humanities. She is the author of 1536: The Year That Changed Henry VIII and The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII.

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A Journey Through Tudor England - Suzannah Lipscomb


‘Partners both in throne and grave, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of the resurrection.’

Westminster Abbey is home to 1,000 years of royal history. Edward the Confessor first founded an Anglo-Saxon abbey here in 960, and the present abbey dates from 1245 when it was built by Henry III to house Edward the Confessor’s shrine. The pointed arches, flying buttresses and rose windows are typical of the French-inspired Gothic style that was fashionable in thirteenth-century architecture, and nearly every addition to the Abbey since — including the eighteenth-century West Towers by Nicholas Hawksmoor — have copied the thirteenth-century original. The one exception is the beautiful sixteenth-century fan-vaulted Lady Chapel in the east end of the Abbey behind the High Altar, which was built by Henry VII after the death of his beloved wife, Elizabeth of York, in 1502. He, too, was subsequently buried here.

Henry VII chose Westminster Abbey as his wife’s resting place because the couple had solemnised their momentous union here on 18 January 1486. (This was the last royal wedding at Westminster Abbey until 1919, when the Abbey was readopted by the modern royals with Princess Pat’s — one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters — nuptials.) The marriage between the nineteen-year-old Elizabeth and the recently crowned King Henry VII was cause for celebration indeed. It marked the coming together of the warring houses of York and Lancaster: an end to the bloody Wars of the Roses that had torn England apart on and off for over thirty years. A strikingly attractive and intelligent woman, with long golden hair, Elizabeth wore her finest robes for the wedding — described as glowing ‘with gold and purple dye’ — and a necklace ‘framed in fretted gold’. She carried symbolic white and red roses.

As with HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — wedding in April 2011, Henry and Elizabeth’s nuptials were marked by festivities and street parties. Accounts say that the wedding was ‘celebrated with all religious and glorious magnificence at court and by their people with bonfires’.

Westminster Abbey is not only famous as a place for royal weddings. It is, of course, the country’s coronation church: thirty-eight English and British monarchs have been crowned here since 1066, including all the Tudor monarchs, except Lady Jane Grey. The only other exceptions are the boy-king, Edward V, one of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ who was murdered before he could be crowned, and Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. The coronation chair, dating from 1298, on which every subsequent crowned monarch sat, can be seen at the Abbey, while the first monarch to introduce English into the coronation ceremony, Elizabeth I, also gave the Abbey its special status as a ‘Royal Peculiar’, answerable directly to the monarch.

The Abbey is also significant in Tudor history for being the burial place for many of the period’s famous and most important figures.

If the Tudor dynasty has a founder, it is probably Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, and Henry VII’s mother, through whom he derived his claim to the throne (she was Edward Ill’s great-great-granddaughter through John of Gaunt’s son, John Beaufort). On her tomb, in the south chapel aisle of the Lady Chapel, her effigy is a delicate gilt bronze sculpture by the Italian Pietro Torrigiano, with an impressively lifelike face and wrinkled old hands, dating from 1511.

Nearby, Edward VI, Henry VII’s grandson, was buried under the altar in the Lady Chapel by his half-sister, Mary I, thereby deliberately avoiding an elaborate tomb, which could have become the locus of Protestant pilgrimage.

In turn, Mary and Elizabeth are buried at the Abbey, too. In the north chapel aisle of the Lady Chapel, one can see their large white marble tomb, on which Elizabeth lies in effigy. It is decorated with gilt Tudor roses, fleurs-de-lis, portcullises (the symbol of a ‘strong fort’, representing the Beaufort line of Henry VIII’s grandmother) and even, interestingly, the falcon: Anne Boleyn’s badge. In a final twist of fate these two rivalrous half-sisters are buried not only together, but with Elizabeth on top of Mary. Part of the Latin inscription reads in translation: ‘Partners both in throne and grave, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of the resurrection.’

The obvious missing Tudor is Henry VIII himself, who can be found at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. Somewhat ironically, the most prestigiously placed Tudor tomb is that of Henry VIII’s most overlooked wife, Anne of Cleves [see ROCHESTER CASTLE]. Anne’s tomb, erected in her memory by Mary I (probably because Anne was one of the only people who showed the adult Mary affection), is to the right of the thirteenth-century mosaic pavement in front of the High Altar, and befits her wisely adopted status as the ‘King’s sister’.

Another splendid tomb is that of James VI of Scotland and I of England’s mother, Mary, Queen of Scots. James had also paid for Elizabeth I’s tomb — a generous gesture given that she had executed his mother at Fotheringhay in 1587 — but he retaliated a little by making his mother’s tomb more magnificent than Elizabeth’s.

James I also erected the monument and effigy to Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox. Margaret is a rather under-recognised figure at the Tudor court, but her lineage and succession were of vital importance to the future of England. She was the daughter of Henry VIII’s elder sister, Margaret Tudor, and of Archibald Douglas, the sixth Earl of Angus. After her fiancé (or possibly even husband), Lord Thomas Howard, died in the Tower — where both he and Margaret had been imprisoned in 1536 for contracting marriage without Henry VIII’s permission — Margaret married Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox. Their son, Henry, Lord Darnley, would go on to marry Mary, Queen of Scots and father the future James VI and I. Margaret herself, however, died in 1578 in poverty, as none of her eight children who kneels by her side on her monument survived her. Her fine and colourful alabaster effigy is a fitting tribute to a king’s niece and grandmother, who experienced little of such favour in life.

Finally, there is another important Tudor woman buried at the Abbey. Frances Brandon was the daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and his third wife, Mary: Henry VIII’s younger sister and widow to the French King, Louis XII. Married first to Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset, later Duke of Suffolk, Frances was the mother to three girls, among them Lady Jane Grey. It is through her that Lady Jane Grey had a claim to the English throne. Frances’s second husband, her lowly Master of Horse, Adrian Stock (or Stokes), had the alabaster monument that you can see in St Edmund’s Chapel built for her, in 1563.

There is one last discovery for the Tudor visitor to make, but you have to go next door to St Margaret’s to see it. At the east end of the church is a dazzling Flemish stained-glass window, commissioned as a gift by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to mark the engagement of their daughter, Katherine of Aragon, to Henry VII’s eldest son, Prince Arthur. By the time the window arrived, in 1509, Arthur was long dead, and Katherine had married his brother, Henry. Like many of the tombs in the Abbey, this window represents a cold and lasting memorial of the often frustrated hopes and loves of the Tudors.

‘They were dragged [to the place of execution] in their habits, to the great grief of the people. They were hanged, cut down before they were dead, opened, and their bowels and hearts burned. Their heads were then cut off, and their bodies quartered.’

Charterhouse (simply meaning ‘Carthusian monastery’) is one of London’s great secrets. Its historic buildings, some dating back to the late fourteenth century, are well preserved, despite surviving a direct hit from a bomb during the Second World War. Yet not everyone knows about this incredible site in the middle of the City, and even fewer know about the sad and terrible fate that met some of its Tudor inhabitants.

Work began on the Carthusian priory of Charterhouse in 1371, next to the site of a burial ground of victims of the Black Death that had ravished London in 1349. The remains of this phase of building can be seen in the Norfolk Cloister: the rubble-stone wall was part of the original monastic cloister and you can still see the doorway to the first monastic cell to be built in 1371, Cell B, complete with serving hatch for the monk’s food. The current chapel was the original priory’s Chapter House and dates from the early fifteenth century.

By the time of the Tudors, the austere priory was thriving. The young Thomas More spent time at Charterhouse between 1499 and 1503, and the famous Tudor medical writer Andrew Boorde also passed thirteen years here. By the early 1530s, there was a healthy community of sixty-three souls under the prior, John Haughton. You can spot Haughton’s influence on the architecture: Wash-House Court has both medieval stonework and brick buildings that were added in 1531—2, with characteristic diaperwork (the diamond or lozenge-shaped crisscross pattern made in brickwork using black or glazed bricks) among the red bricks, and the initials ‘IH’, for John Haughton, also picked out in black.

Haughton’s name is noted here for a far more sobering reason, however, and it is one to remember as you approach Charterhouse gateway. In 1535, Haughton died a terrible death, and one of his limbs was hung outside this very gate — as a foreign reporter noted at the time — to ‘terrify the other monks’ into submission.

Haughton’s crime was that he refused to accept in conscience Henry VIII’s position as Supreme Head of the Church of England. In order to have his marriage to Katherine of Aragon annulled, and to marry Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII and his government had passed a series of Acts of Parliament in the early 1530s that effected the ‘break from Rome’, and established Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the new Church of England. In April 1534, every man in the country had been required to swear the Oath of Succession, in which they promised ‘to be true to Queen Anne [Boleyn], and to believe and take her for the lawful wife of the King and rightful Queen of England, and utterly to think the Lady Mary daughter to the King by Queen Katherine, but as a bastard, and thus to do without any scrupulosity of conscience’.

This incredible attempt by Henry VIII to make the whole kingdom complicit in his decision — even in their very thoughts — meant that everyone was forced to agree to the King’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon and, according to the oath’s preamble, to his position as Supreme Head of the Church (in place of the Pope).

After some early resistance, Haughton and most of his monks agreed to swear to the oath, but with some undisclosed conditions, which obviously came to Henry VIII’s attention for, in April 1535, he required them to swear further oaths recognising his position as Supreme Head of the Church (and therefore, his displacement of the Pope). Haughton and a number of other Carthusians refused.

Punishment was swift. On 20 April, ten Charterhouse monks were sent to Newgate Prison, including Robert Lawrence, prior of the Charterhouse of Beauvale in Nottinghamshire, and Augustine Webster, prior of the Charterhouse of Axholme, Lincolnshire. Less than three weeks later, and the day after Bishop John Fisher declared that he also could not, in conscience, consent to the King’s supremacy over the Church, Haughton, Lawrence and Webster were tried, convicted of treason and executed.

The foreign report on the gruesome event was graphic: ‘they were dragged [to the place of execution] in their habits, to the great grief of the people. They were hanged, cut down before they were dead, opened, and their bowels and hearts burned. Their heads were then cut off, and their bodies quartered.’ Another shocking report added the horrific detail that the executioner ‘caused them to be ripped up in each other’s presence, their arms torn off, their hearts cut out and rubbed upon their mouths and face’. The barbarity of the act was blamed directly on the King of England himself.

In June, three more monks: Sebastian Newdigate, William Exmew and Humphrey Middlemore suffered the same horrendous fate.

By May 1537, some two years later, with the memory of the martyrs still fresh and with ongoing deprivations — their food restricted, their books removed — twenty of the monks at Charterhouse agreed to sign an acknowledgement of the King’s supremacy. Incredibly, there still remained ten brave monks willing to deny it: a testament to their extraordinary faith given the certainty of their punishment. They were taken to Newgate Prison and put in chains. By mid-June, three were dead, and four perilously sick. By September, all but one had died. The survivor was executed at Tyburn in August 1540. It seems highly likely that the others had starved to

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