Tudor History Tours  -  View all Coach Touring companies


 

Bring history to life with Tudor History Tours!

The Tudor dynasty is the most talked about, written about and filmed period in over 2000 years of British history. Henry VII, King by right of blood and conquest begat the dynasty that saw the two greatest love stories of the age: Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn followed by their daughter Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester which shaped the course of the century and British History.
Our small, select group tours offer an unrivalled opportunity to bring this period in our nation’s history to life. We see some of the most famous and infamous palaces and castles such as Hampton Court, Windsor and the Tower of London but also we experience the life of the ordinary subject.

Just for you, Tudor History Tours have assembled a unique blend of events which allow you to enjoy the sights, sounds, touch and tastes of the Tudor period. Compare the simplicity of a woodland cooked meal to that of a superb medieval banquet. Quaff a beer in the very hostelry where Shakespeare met his fellow playwrights.
During the day Tudor History Tours take you to sumptuous palaces as well as places that are off the well-worn tourist trail. In the evening we stay at hotels specially chosen for their historic importance and character. These are mostly old Coaching Inns with low oak beams, uneven floors, inglenook fireplaces and some allegedly have ghosts! A number have significant feature rooms such as four poster beds which can be booked for an additional supplement.



Tour Details -



Elizabeth I: The Child, Lover and Warrior Queen - 4 days, 3 nights

Henry VIII: Defender of the Realm - 6 days, 5 nights

Henry VIII: Finding Henry - 8 days, 7 nights

6 Wives of One King - 11 days, 10 nights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Elizabeth I: The Child, Lover and Warrior Queen - 4 days, 3 nights

In a packed, fully escorted 4 day itinerary, we explore Elizabeth’s long life from three years old to her death at 69 years of age. Come with us as we travel the length of England and relive the story of the trauma of the execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn, the wounding declaration of bastardy, imprisonment in the Tower of London as a young child and then as a traitor in her adulthood. We hear of the hidden abuse at the hands of Thomas Seymour and the perils of trying to stay alive in an era of intrigue and betrayal. Then we enter a glorious age when she finally became Queen and the infamous love affair that lasted 30 years and still generates interest 500 years later. We look at her time as an inspiring warrior Queen and a glorious victory over a foreign invader.
 


Day 1

We meet in London and travel straight to Kenilworth in Warwickshire to wander the “glorious pleasure house” of Sir Robert Dudley and see the gardens built solely to woo Queen Elizabeth, lovingly restored by English Heritage. No one but Elizabeth and Dudley were allowed to walk the gardens but one nobleman of the time described them in detail in a letter. It is this source which English Heritage has used to research and reconstruct this private area. We spend the night at an old coaching inn built around an oak tree.

Day 2
We visit the church in Kenilworth where Elizabeth and Dudley prayed before travelling to Warwick to see the Lord Leycester Hospital, built by Dudley for Elizabeth’s retired soldiers. We then visit Dudley’s tomb which is
close by; an example of Gothic extravaganza - before heading South. We spend the afternoon at Hatfield House, in Hertfordshire, Elizabeth’s childhood home where she saw desperate unhappiness and glory. If you feel energetic, you can walk to the spot where she was told that she was now Queen. In the evening we are entertained with an Elizabethan banquet in the Great Hall of the Old Palace.

Day 3
An early start takes us firstly to the site of Elizabeth’s most famous speech “I have the body of a weak and feeble woman but the heart of a King”, galvanising the troops at Tilbury in Essex to take on the Spanish invaders. We then visit the only castle she had built to protect England’s shores against foreign forces at Upnor in Kent before journeying to the wonderful Penshurst Place in Kent. A pivotal property throughout the Tudor period and used regularly as a film location, it is here that we see the infamous La Volta painting. This painting depicts Elizabeth and Dudley in scandalous dancing and displayed in the actual room that the event took place. Penshurst gardens are delightful. We travel into London for the night and, in season, see an evening performance in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Day 4
We spend time at the Tower of London, one of the world’s premier tourist destinations and where Elizabeth was imprisoned once as a young girl when she first met Dudley and again as a traitor when her sister Mary became Queen. Westminster Abbey is our final destination where Elizabeth lies in a glorious Gothic tomb alongside her half sister, Mary Tudor.

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Henry VIII: Defender of the Realm - 6 days, 5 nights

This intensive 5 night/six-day fully escorted tour follows Henry as he prepares to defend England against the European forces who see his divorce from Catherine as the perfect excuse to invade. The father of the Royal Navy and instigator of the largest civil engineering building program of the century, this tour explores mighty fortress England and the love that led to the call to war.
We start our story at the home of the family who provided the spark to an explosive desire that led Henry to declare his repudiation of the Catholic faith and a lifetime of threats against his kingdom. We then travel through an area known as the Garden of England to inspect three of Henry’s coastal defenses before experiencing for ourselves the land craft needed to survive in Tudor times. We journey through the landscape
that provided the iron for his cannon and the vast oak forests needed to build his ships before reaching the heart of his emerging Royal Navy. The tour ends with perhaps the most famous palace in the world, Hampton Court Palace and the largest occupied castle in Europe, Windsor.

Day 1
We start our journey deep in the heart of Kent at a delightful old coaching inn for lunch before we travel through English countryside to visit Hever Castle. The childhood home of Anne Boleyn and once a fortified moated manor house. Here we explore the life of the family who led Henry’s descent to divorce, dissolution and the threat of invasion. In the gatehouse there is a display of weapons and armor of the times. We return to the coaching inn for the night.

Day 2
Up early to travel to the Kent coast for the first sight of Henry’s great civil engineering projects and we see Deal, Walmer and the stupendous Dover castles. Deal Castle was built in a hurry by Henry in 1540 with stone from a nearby destroyed Abbey. Deal's Tudor heart beats loudly, with huge bastions and cannons ready to repel any invaders. Anne of Cleves took her first steps in England here before setting off to marry the King.
Walmer Castle, built by Henry VIII as the third part of the defenses of this stretch of coastline and modified over the centuries to become home of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
Dover Castle set on the famous white cliffs, is one of the premier castles for the defense of the Realm dating back to the Romans. Henry VIII stayed here regularly when supervising the construction of the coastal defenses. Imagine life as a medieval soldier under siege as you explore the atmospheric medieval underground tunnels, see one of Europe’s best-preserved Roman lighthouses and walk the extensive battlements.

Day 3
As well as spending time in the important house at Penshurst in Kent, we can meet with our experts in Tudor life. Here, numbers permitting, we experience for ourselves the land craft needed to eat, live, fight and be merry in Tudor England, expertly supported by our colleagues from “Hands on History”.
Following that we travel through the area known as the Weald which was the medieval industrial heartland for firing the iron cannons used for Henry’s armament build-up, now it is a green and open land.
On to the ancient county town of Lewes in Sussex where we see for ourselves the havoc wrought by the dissolution. This medieval town is the location of Anne of Cleves House, Lewes Priory ruins and site of religious martydom. A few miles from Lewes we also visit Firle Place, home of the the Gage family. One ancestor was the Constable of the Tower of London and responsible for organizing the execution of Catherine Howard.

Day 4
At Southsea Castle in Portsmouth, Hampshire, we visit another of Henry’s fortifications and stand where Henry stood, viewing the battle and watched as the Mary Rose, his flagship, foundered in the Solent with the loss of 800 lives. A short distance away lies the Historic Royal Naval Dockyard where we can relive that moment at the Mary Rose museum and handle artifacts brought up from the seabed. The ship itself, in the ship hall, is closed whilst a major refurbishment is taking place but there is a webcam of the ship itself. Whole forests were planted and felled to build Henry’s warships and many of them were based at this dockyard. Centuries of naval history are on display here with Nelson’s flagship Victory and other historic naval treasures.
Next it’s to the top of Spinnaker Tower, 570 ft high with a panoramic view of this historic naval town and finally a hearty supper at a tavern on the mouth of the harbor. We stay at a hotel in Old Portsmouth near the Hot Walls, a local landmark and part of the defenses Henry built to protect the harbor.

Day 5
An early start takes us to Hampton Court Palace situated on the Thames, 17 miles outside of central London and arguably one of the most famous palaces in the world. The Palace is vast and has been added to over the centuries yet its Tudor origins are still clear to see. Many notable features include the maze, gardens, a Tudor real tennis court and the Chapel Royal used for prayer for over 450 years.
Then we journey to Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest occupied castle in Europe and still home to the present Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II. St George’s Chapel Windsor is the last resting place of 10 royal Sovereigns including Henry VIII and his favorite wife Jane Seymour. You can attend evensong at the Royal
chapel and may well sit alongside the simple marble slab marking Henry and Jane’s graves. We stay at a marvelous riverside hotel in the shadow of the ramparts of the Castle.

Day 6
After breakfast transport is arranged to return you to a mainline railway station or other hotel destination in London. The Guards march through Windsor and into the Tower at 11.00am every other day during the spring and every day during the summer apart from Sunday. You may, if you wish, view this wonderful spectacle before journeying on.
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Henry VIII: Finding Henry - 8 days, 7 nights

Henry VIII was not born to be King yet acceded to the throne before his 18th birthday. History sees Henry as a tyrant and a bully but he was also a builder, philosopher, musician, linguist, Defender of the Faith and international sports superstar of his age. A Renaissance Prince when young, his divorces and subsequent orders to send two of his wives to the executioner’s block made him the most notorious King that England has ever witnessed. This packed 7 nights, 8 day fully escorted tour follows a journey to find the real Henry through a Grand Progress of Southern England. We visit his boyhood home to explore the loving yet intensive upbringing that made him the Renaissance Prince that he was. We see his palaces, castles and inns, sampling the life of Tudor times on the way. And we seek out the events that changed him into the bloated tyrant that he became.

Day 1
We meet at an old coaching inn at midday before travelling through the English countryside to the beautiful home of the Boleyn family. The love story of the age which led to divorce, excommunication and the threat of war is reflected in this moated manor house. Both of the Boleyn sisters were lovers of the King, with one laying with him whilst married to another, and the other, Anne, laying with Henry only when she became Queen. It took Anne seven years to achieve her aim to become Queen and change forever Henry’s position and the course of English history.

Day 2
So what was he like as a boy? To find out, we travel to Eltham Palace, his boyhood home. Then onto Greenwich where we change to a Thames River boat to the Tower of London. We see Traitor’s Gate as Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard would have done on their way to custody in the Tower.
The Tower of London is over 1,000 years old, steeped in the nation’s history and the scene of some of the bloodiest events during the Tudor period. It is the execution site of two of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
A magnificent exhibition of Henry VIII’s suit of armor and horse armor are on display in the White Tower, a breathtaking sight. Afterwards we walk along narrow cobbled London streets to see the Golden Hinde, a full size working replica of Sir Francis Drake’s flagship that sailed around the world 1577-1580.
After a fish and chip supper at the George Inn, the oldest galleried pub in London which Shakespeare frequented, we walk just a few more yards along the Thames to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The season opens on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23 April, and it is a sheer delight to see one of Shakespeare's plays performed in the setting for which it was written. Out of season we have a tour of the Globe.
Our Hotel for the night is close to the Globe Theatre along the Thames riverside walk.

Day 3
We leave London to visit Henry’s premier fortress, Dover Castle in Kent. Here he left England for his glorious trip to France and the Field of Cloth of Gold, and later watched as construction of his coastal defenses went apace following Henry’s excommunication. 40 miles inland we find Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, often described as the most romantic castle in England. Many visitors are perplexed to find that Leeds Castle is nowhere near Leeds! It was originally a Saxon manor house Esledes, (pronounced Ez Leedees) and after the Norman conquest became a fortified castle. Henry VIII regularly stayed here as did Catherine of Aragon.

Day 4
As well as spending time at the important house at Penshurst in Kent, we can meet with our experts in Tudor life. Here, numbers permitting, we experience for ourselves the land craft needed to eat, live, fight and be merry in Tudor England, expertly supported by our colleagues from “Hands on History”. Penshurst is used regularly as a film location as it is so evocative of the Tudor period.
Then on to the Sussex county town of Lewes where we see for ourselves the havoc wrought by the dissolution.
This medieval town is the location of Anne of Cleves House, Lewes Priory ruins and site of religious martydom. You should have time to stroll around the steep narrow streets and soak up the atmosphere of this ancient town. We also visit Firle Place, home of the ancestor who was Constable of the Tower and in charge of the execution of Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

Day 5
At Southsea Castle on the city island of Portsmouth in Hampshire, we stand in the same place where Henry stood, watching the battle as the Mary Rose, his flagship, foundered in the Solent with the loss of 800 lives. Only a mile distance away is the Historic Royal Naval Dockyard where we can relive that moment at the Mary Rose museum and handle artifacts brought up from the seabed. Centuries of naval history are on display here with Nelson’s flagship Victory and other historic naval treasures.
Next it’s to the top of Spinnaker Tower, 570 ft high with a panoramic view of this historic naval town and surrounding sea. We finish with a meal at an old tavern dating from 1700 overlooking the mouth of this busy harbor.

Day 6
It’s an early start as we head off to see the largest and oldest occupied castle in Europe at Windsor. Still home to our present Sovereign we should arrive to see the Changing of the Guard and then spend time in the Glorious State Apartments. We can visit St George’s Chapel where we see Henry’s grave and that of his beloved wife Jane Seymour who gave him a male heir. You may attend evensong in the Chapel if you wish.
We spend the night in a wonderful hotel in the shadow of the castle ramparts.

Day 7
Our last full day is at Hampton Court Palace, taken from Thomas Wolsey by Henry. The Tudor building has been wonderfully conserved, a celebration of Henry’s accession to the throne over 500 years ago. A recent addition is the wine fountain in the centre of the courtyard, an exact replica of the one seen on the painting of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. For a small fee you may have the chance of supping a glass or two. Costumed actors perform vignettes throughout the day and during the season there are special events. We may be fortunate to be there when they fire up the huge kitchens and recreate the meals that would have been served during the Tudor period or be guests at one of Henry’s wedding parties. We finish the evening at an opulent hotel in London and attend a sumptuous Tudor banquet complete with entertainment.

Day 8
The previous evening was a fitting finale for our Grand Progress. After a leisurely breakfast we arrange transport back to a London mainline railway station or London airport if agreed when booking. For those who have later journeys, we can arrange additional trips to sites in London
if these have been agreed prior to arrival.
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6 Wives of One King - 11 days, 10 nights

We take you on an evocative journey to explore the lives of all of Henry’s six wives. Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived. Or even The Betrayed wife, the Temptress, the Good woman, the Ugly sister, the Teenage bad girl and the Mother figure. All six have a different story to tell.
How did these six different women live and how did they become consorts to the most notorious King that England has ever seen? We visit their childhood homes, divorce settlements and take you on a pilgrimage to their final resting places. This fully guided tour takes you to the famous sites that should not be missed but also those off the beaten track. We have specially commissioned private tours and take you to sites away from the tourist trail for your own unique insights into their lives.

Day 1
We meet at an old coaching inn situated in south west London and go to Syon House right on the Thames. Originally an Abbey and much favored by Catherine of Aragon, this house weaves in and out of the Tudor story. This is where the nuns were chastised by Anne Boleyn for their ‘wonton behavior’. It was the place where Catherine Howard was taken after her arrest and held in custody before her journey to the Tower of London and execution.

Day 2
Hampton Court Palace 17 miles south west of central London 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 we might even see one of his wedding days being played out by actors. After time spent exploring these magnificent buildings we travel to Windsor where we can attend evensong at St George's Chapel within the walls of Windsor Castle. Henry VIII and his favorite wife, Jane, are buried here.

Day 3
After watching the Changing of the Guard at 11.00am there will be time to wander around Windsor and visit the Castle. Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in Europe and home of our present Sovereign. There are many exhibitions to see here and the glorious State Apartments hold many original portraits of the Tudors. We then travel to Oxford, the city of the dreaming spires to see Magdalen College, where a young master Wolsey was a student. Christchurch College and it’s magnificent chapel originally called Cardinal College and St. Johns College all have cloisters to explore. Also in Oxford is the oldest museum in the world, the Ashmolean, or you may like to wander at your leisure around this ancient university city.

Day 4
We travel to Sudeley Castle, in Gloucestershire. It is a grand manor house and the family home of Thomas
Seymour, who married Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's last wife, after Henry died. Catherine is buried in a peaceful setting in St Mary's church within the grounds. We will have a connoisseur tour of this splendid castle. We travel through Stratford-upon-Avon and visit Shakespeare’s birthplace before we head off to Warwickshire.

Day 5
Today we see Buckden Towers, a Bishop’s Palace in Cambridgeshire. Here Catherine of Aragon lived before she was forcibly taken to nearby Kimbolton Castle. Kimbolton, where Catherine died, is not generally open to the public but a special guided tour for Tudor History Tours has been arranged by appointment. After Kimbolton we travel to the wonderful Peterborough Cathedral, where Catherine of Aragon is buried. Even in death Henry was unkind to her: she was buried as Dowager Princess of Wales. Not until the 19th century was a more fitting memorial established. All women called Catherine were asked to make a donation to pay for it.

Day 6
We remain in the Eastern counties and go to Cambridge to see the Kings College Chapel. This building has the largest fan vaulted roof construction still standing in the world. Two of the wives can be found here. Anne Boleyn's initials are carved in the Provost stall and it has a tantalizing image of Catherine Howard on a stained glass window placed here. Her initials are to be found high up on the great East window above the red Dragon of Wales. There will be time to wander around the centre of Cambridge to view some of the other famous colleges, like Queens College which is associated with Catherine of Aragon.

Day 7
We visit the Tower of London, steeped in the nation's history for 1,000 years. Two of Henry's queens, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were executed in the Tower, interred under the alter of St Peterad- Vincula church. There are many exciting exhibitions in the Tower and we might even see the trial of Anne Boleyn take place.
Westminster Abbey, the coronation site of England’s Kings and Queens follows. Ten of England’s Royal Sovereigns are buried here including Elizabeth I and, somewhat hard to find, is the tomb of Anne of Cleves. Anne of Cleves was perhaps Henry VIII's least favored wife although she outlived them all and a grand funeral took her to her last resting place here at the Abbey.
From 23 April we can see an evening performance in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Before then a guided tour of the Globe will take place. We enjoy a fish and chip supper at the last galleried pub in London where Shakespeare met his friends and colleagues.

Day 8
We travel south out of London to visit Hever Castle in Kent, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Perhaps the most notorious woman in English history and responsible for one of the most famous love stories in history. Thanks to her influence Henry broke from the Catholic church and the Reformation followed, a schism that exists to this day. This is followed by a stop at nearby Penshurst Place, an important place during the Tudor dynasty, given to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement from Henry. Here, group numbers permitting, we will have a re-enactment of life in Tudor Times. You can experience a typical mid-day meal which would have been common in the Tudor period.

Day 9
The medieval county town of Lewes in East Sussex is our next port of call, where we see Anne of Cleve's House. It was also part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII. Close by are the Priory ruins, victim of the Dissolution and particularly singled out by Henry for destruction. There will be the opportunity to see other notable landmarks like the medieval Lewes Castle or Southover Grange, built with the stones of the Priory and the monument to the Protestant martyrs burnt at the stake by Mary Tudor.

Day 10
We go to Firle Place, ancestral home of Sir John Gage, Constable of the Tower and responsible for organizing Catherine Howard’s execution. Our final historic site is Arundel Castle, ancestral home of the Howard family. The 3rd Duke of Norfolk was uncle to both Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn. He was also due to meet the block but Henry died the night before so he kept his head. Arundel is the second largest inhabited castle in Britain.
To finish off our tour in grand style we attend a sumptuous Tudor banquet in London.

Day 11
After leisurely breakfast, transport is arranged to mainline London railway stations or other London destination hotels. For those whose flights are later in the day we can arrange other events in London if requested in advance.
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© images used on this page courtesy of Tudor History Tours

 

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