Sunday Short Takes

More buildings to save your pence for!

* Thornbury Castle, Honeymoon Spot of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, On Sale for $10.3 million – Although since this one is also a hotel, I think I would settle for just staying there instead of buying the whole thing. I know several readers of this site have been there, but it’s still on my ‘to do’ list!

* Barsham Manor House on rightmove – This property in Norfolk intrigues me. Henry VIII apparently stayed there several times and it’s in an area that some of my ancestors are from!

* Knole House has £20 million revamp and unveils the National Trust’s biggest conservation project ever – Not one you can buy or stay overnight at, but you can visit! More about Knole at the National Trust

* King Henry VIII’s sixth wife collaborated with Thomas Tallis to write music to rally her husband for war – The fragmentary manuscript pages were used as stuffing for cracks in the walls (!!!) at Corpus Christi College, Oxford

* Hans Holbein in England – Interesting blog post from The National Archives, including excerpts from primary sources

Picture of the Week #434

Lion rampant heraldic beast in the Chapel Court Garden at Hampton Court Palace. Photo May 2015.

This garden was one of the pleasant surprises upon my return to Hampton Court. In the 15 years since my last visit, this space opened in 2009 for the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne. The design is based on the view seen through the arches in The Family of Henry VIII painting (even though the painting actually depicts the Great Garden at Whitehall Palace – more info from the Royal Collection website).

Upcoming Books and Exhibitions for March 2017


Giles Tremlett’s Isabella of Castile: Europe’s First Great Queen, which was released in February in the UK, will be out on March 7 in the US:


Nicola Tallis, author of Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey will talk about her book at the Bradford on Avon Library on March 9, 2017. Click here for more details

And this has a listing of a number of events between March and June – Power and Performance at Hampton Court PalaceJoin author and historian Lauren Johnson as she hosts an impressive line-up of speakers to explore ideas of power and performance in the lively Tudor court. The first talk is March 28 on “Anne Boleyn: musician and composer”. Ticket information is at the link.


Katharine, England’s Spanish Queen opened in the Visitor Centre at Peterborough Cathedral on January 16 and will run through March 15, 2017.

500 Years of Treasures from Oxford opened at the Washington DC’s Folger Shakespeare Library in February and will run through the end of April.

Picture of the Week #433

Private dining area at Palmer’s Farmhouse at Mary Arden’s Farm. Photo May 2015.

If I remember correctly, this is the area for the master of the house to have a private dinner, as opposed to the larger meal area that everyone ate at. Eventually I’ll have some photos from the Tudor meal they did in the main dining room while I was visiting. It was fun to watch!

Sunday Short Takes

I haven’t had some historical dream properties on the Sunday Short Takes for a while and now we have three. Save your pennies!

* This Elizabethan country house is for sale for the first time in 500 yearsPlas Clough in Denbighshire has previously been inherited by subsequent generations

* Grand Tudor mansion near Tamworth could be yours for £4millionHaselour Hall, which has been described as one of ‘the most charming half-timbered house in the county’, is being sold by Sutton Coldfield-based estate agency Aston Knowles.

* Castle fit for an escaping Queen on the market for £1.5 million500-year-old castle where Mary, Queen of Scots, stayed after escaping captivity from a nearby island

And in other news –

* Shakespeare in Italy – Study Shakespeare for two weeks in Italy this summer

* Behind the scenes at … Hampton Court Palace: See Henry VIII’s botch redecoration to impress Jane Seymour and stunning views from Palace roofThe Standard has taken a camera behind the scenes at Hampton Court Palace, inside its archaeological store and Tudor costume room, and to see the glorious views from the roof of the Palace.

* Introducing Open Access at The Met – I’m so happy to see more museums and galleries finally releasing public domain art *into* the public domain. It was established under Bridgeman v Corel (1999) that photographic reproductions of public domain works of art do not create a new copyright so the Met is coming into line with that decision. The question of photographs of 3D public domain objects hasn’t been quite as straightforward, but the Met is also making those copyright-free. Just a few examples: Armor Garniture of George Clifford (1558–1605), Third Earl of Cumberland and Standing salt with cover.

Picture of the Week #430

Church of St Michael the Archangel, Framlingham, Suffolk, England. Photo May 2015.

So far the only other picture I’ve used from St. Michael’s is the tomb of Henry Fitzroy (Picture of the Week #340) but expect to see more in the future. They were doing a recording when I first got over to the church (a short walk from the castle) so I wandered around the outside for a while and took a bunch of photos of some great overgrown and weathered graves in the churchyard. And I have a lot more photos of the interior, including some close-ups of features on Fitzroy’s grave.

And any fans of the show Detectorists might recognize the church from the show, although I seem to recall it was actually a stand-in for a library. At one point there is a scene of two of the characters sitting on a bench outside and I realized I sat on that very same bench after my walk around while I was waiting for them to open the church!

Picture of the Week #429

Castle Acre Priory, Norfolk, England. Photo May 2015.

Castle Acre Priory was, not surprisingly, one of the many such buildings that were affected by the suppression of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII. The priory was handed over on November 22, 1537 and leased to the Duke of Norfolk, who later sold it to Thomas Gresham. The prior’s lodging (see the area near the middle of the photo with the pitched roof) was converted into a house, which is probably the reason that part remained mostly intact.

Visiting the priory was one of those ‘happy accidents’ of travel that I hope everyone experiences when they go abroad. When I was planning out the trip, I had decided to book a B&B for one night in Castle Acre because it was a good stopover place as I was heading from East Anglia towards the Midlands. As I was looking around to see the local attractions I discovered that the ruins of the priory were far more substantial than I had thought, so I decided to add it to the day’s plans and I’m glad I did! And I totally fell in love with the town of Castle Acre. There are the ruins of the old castle, the old medieval bailey gate, and the ruins of the priory all within easy walking distance from the center of town. I definitely recommend a stop if you’re in the area!

Upcoming Books and Exhibitions for February 2017


A book slipped past me in January, as I suspected! (surprised there weren’t more…)

First up is The Turbulent Crown: The Story of the Tudor Queens by Roland Hui (and if I may be so presumptuous, a long-time friend of the site!) was released earlier in January in both the UK and US:

And the other new release Giles Tremlett’s Isabella of Castile: Europe’s First Great Queen which is out February 9 in the UK and March 7 in the US. I guess this technically isn’t “Tudor history”, but of course Isabella was Catherine of Aragon’s mother so I say it counts. 🙂


This is actually in March, but I wanted to get it out early:

Nicola Tallis, author of Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey will talk about her book at the Bradford on Avon Library on March 9, 2017. Click here for more details

And this has a listing of a number of events between March and June:

Power and Performance at Hampton Court PalaceJoin author and historian Lauren Johnson as she hosts an impressive line-up of speakers to explore ideas of power and performance in the lively Tudor court. The first talk is March 28 on “Anne Boleyn: musician and composer”. Ticket information is at the link.


Katharine, England’s Spanish Queen opened in the Visitor Centre at Peterborough Cathedral on January 16 and will run through March 15, 2017.

Picture of the Week #427

St. Nicholas Church in Blakeney, Norfolk, England. Photo May 2015.

There are two towns in England with the name Blakeney – one in Norfolk and one in Gloucester, and I have now visited both. And if you’re wondering why someone would go out of their way to visit two towns with the same name in two different parts of England, for me there is a very good reason – that’s my mom’s family name! I grew up knowing about both towns (as well as Mountblakeney in Ireland – still on the to-do list) and remember when they were basically just a name and a dot on a map in the giant atlas in the local branch of the library (boy are we spoiled by Google Maps and Google Street View now!). I still don’t know what connection there may be between the towns and Mom’s family, but that’s a genealogy/history project for another day. I only drove through the town in Gloucestershire back in 1998, but on the 2015 visit I was planning to spend a number of days in East Anglia so I ended up in the Norfolk Blakeney for about half a day. I walked part of the Norfolk Coastal Path and explored the town a little and walked up to the church, seen above.

The church was mostly built between the 13th and 15th centuries and was resurfaced in the Victorian era. You can learn more about the building and its history here.

Sunday Short Takes

Welcome to the first round-up of 2017! I admit that I had a couple of things to post last week but I totally and completely forgot about it until about 9:00 p.m. on Sunday. So, here are a couple of weeks’ worth of stories!

* V&A returns Tudor bedroom to original Sizergh Castle settingLondon museum formally transfers grand oak-panelled room, for which it paid £1,000 in 1891, to National Trust site in Cumbria

* A Tudor Childhood – Excerpted from Tracy Borman’s The Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain’s Greatest Dynasty

* Queen Elizabeth I’s long-lost skirt to go on display after being found on a church altar in Herefordshire – The altar cloth that I posted about last May will go on display at Hampton Court Palace and will undergo an 18-month restoration.

* How ‘Sherlock of the library’ cracked the case of Shakespeare’s identity – Don’t be put off by the title, this isn’t a “so-and-so actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays” article. In fact, it’s rather the opposite!

* Lucy Worsley’s Secrets of the Six Wives, which has already aired in the UK, will be airing on PBS stations in the US next weekend (check your local listings for times)

And finally – a video to finish off the post this week:

* Tapestry re-hang at Hampton Court Palace – The most surprising thing in the video is the use of Velcro to hang the tapestries. I mean how they hang them now, not how the Tudors did. 😉

Picture of the Week #425

St. Nicholas’ Church, Kenilworth. Photo May 2015.

Since my visit to Kenilworth in 1998 was too short, I decided when I went in 2015 that I would stay the whole day and visit not just the castle, but also the ruins of the old abbey and the parish church (both are an easy walk from the castle). Elizabeth I attended services at the church several times during her visits to Robert Dudley at Kenilworth Castle, especially during the famous 1575 stay. There are have been renovations and additions to the church since that time, but some parts date back to medieval times.

Upcoming Books and Exhibitions for January 2017

Happy 2017! Not a whole lot of things to start the year, but once again, I’m sure I’m missing a lot of stuff!


First of the Tudors by Joanna Hickson was released in December in the UK and will be out at the end of January in paperback in the US (it’s already available as a Kindle book in the US).

And in new releases this month, Gareth Russell’s Young and Damned and Fair: The Life and Tragedy of Catherine Howard at the Court of Henry VIII will be out on January 12 in the UK and will be out in April in the US (wit the slightly different title of Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII).


Peterborough Cathedral’s annual Katherine of Aragon Festival for 2017 will be held from Thursday January 26th through Sunday January 29th.

Sunday Short Takes – Saturday edition

I wanted to get this final round-up of 2016 actually *in* 2016, hence the Saturday post. A lot of stories piled up in the final weeks of 2016 that I never got around to posting, so this is going to be a long one!

* Pembroke Castle study uncovers possible Henry VII birthplace

* Through foreign eyes: the forgotten ambassadors to the Tudor court

* V&A acquires earliest picture of Henry VIII’s lost palace of Nonsuch – More coverage: Rare painting of Henry VIII’s ‘lost palace’ saved from export and Watercolour of Henry VIII’s famed lost Palace of Nonsuch saved for the nation

* London church to be reunited with stolen 16th-century carvingSt Katharine Cree church delighted at return of decades-lost work, part of a monument to a famous Elizabethan

* The Lost Colony of Roanoke loses its portrait of Queen Elizabeth I – I guess this is the final chapter in a story that I’ve been following since 2008 (more here) since it has been sold in England by the nonprofit organization that runs the Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks of North Carolina (at the site of the famous Lost Colony of Roanoke). I’m sad to see a portrait of Elizabeth leave the US, but I totally understand the motivations since funding is so tight for many nonprofits.

* New tower will reveal hidden world of Westminster Abbey – Plans continue to proceed to open the Triforium of Westminster Abbey into a museum, to be named the “Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries”. This is another story that I’ve been following for a number of years (since around 2009 or 2010, I think) and I’m glad to see this one is becoming real and plans to open in 2018! If you want to contribute to the fund, you can do so here.

* A “lost” Caesar tapestry – I’m linking to Mary Beard’s write-up of events, since so far most of the news stories I’ve seen about this seem to get it wrong.

* Six Wives in the Archives – the UK National Archives had several blog posts while Lucy Worsley’s “Six Wives” series ran on BBC One (coming to the US in early 2017!) with images of some primary source documents:
Six Wives in the archives: a view from Europe
Six Wives in the archives: the trial of Anne Boleyn
Six Wives in the archives: Howard’s end

And finally –

These are links that I’m going to put in the various Links Directory sections, but I thought I would link to them here too since they are all useful resources:

* Documents from Elizabeth I’s life and reign in the UK National Archives (classroom resource)

* The Paston Letters Online

* History Masterclass

* Everyday Life and Fatal Hazard in Sixteenth-Century England