Potted History of Tudor Homes

Bradgate House = Bradgate House is now a ruin, but it was home to the Grey family, descended from the first son of Elizabeth Woodville by her first husband. Lady Jane Grey and her sisters, Katherine and Mary, grew up here. The Grey family lived here for two hundred year until 1739, but a newer house, also in ruins, now stands nearby to the original ruins. More of the Tudor chapel and tower stand now than of the house itself.

Burghley House was the home of William Cecil, advisor to Elizabeth I
Burghley House was the home of William Cecil, advisor to Elizabeth I

Burghley House = Burghley House was built by William Cecil, Lord Burghley. He was the most trusted councillor of Elizabeth I, and very focused on trying to catch Mary Queen of Scots in conducting treason. Burghley’s changes to the house took from 1555 to 1587, but little of the Tudor inside now remains. Burghley House is the only one of Cecil’s many properties still standing today, though it has been much changed.

Fotheringhay Castle = Fotheringhay Castle no longer stands but was probably founded around 1100. Only the motte still exists. It was a residence of the Dukes of York until the Tudors took the throne, and Richard III was born here in 1452. Most famously, Fotheringhay Castle was where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned towards the end of her life, and it is said that she was beheaded in the Great Hall here on a scaffold draped in black cloth.

Hardwick Hall = Hardwick Hall was built by Elizabeth “Bess” of Hardwick, a four-times married Lady of Elizabeth I’s Bedchamber. Eventually, after three short-lived marriages, she married George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury. Hardwick was where Bess stayed when her husband was at Tutbury Castle as the gaoler of Mary Queen of Scots on the order of Elizabeth I. This time nearly tore apart the marriage of the Shrewsburys’.

Hever Castle in Kent, childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
Hever Castle in Kent, childhood home of Anne Boleyn.

Hever Castle = Hever Castle is best-known as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Hever was also given to Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, as part of her divorce settlement. She spent a lot of time here. Anne Boleyn nearly died here during the sweating sickness in 1527. Her brother-in-law did die. It is also here that we can see a surviving wooden headboard, and two of Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours, one signed.

Kenilworth Castle = Kenilworth Castle is most famous due to Sir Walter Scott’s book of the same name. It explores the story of Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart, though Amy Robsart never actually set foot in the castle as far as we are aware. Before Tudor times it was used as a Lancastrian base during the Wars of the Roses. Elizabeth I granted it to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who hosted Elizabeth here at least four times.

Kimbolton Castle = Kimbolton Castle was the place of death of Katherine of Aragon. She was banished there after her forced separation from Henry VIII after he made it clear that he would marry Anne Boleyn. It is said that Katherine of Aragon’s ghost haunts the remains of the castle. The fens it is surrounded by seriously damaged her health, and more than likely contributed to her death. There is now a school on the site.

Ludlow Castle, the death place of Prince Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII
Ludlow Castle, the death place of Prince Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII

Ludlow Castle = Ludlow Castle was, for a short time, the seat of the Prince of Wales. The first one was the son of Edward IV, the future Edward V, and the second was the son of Henry VII, Prince Arthur. The future Mary I later also spent time there as her father’s heir. The castle is now ruined and uninhabitable, but Prince Arthur died here in 1502 after spending most of his marriage there, and made way for the future Henry VIII.

Sudeley Castle = Sudeley Castle was famed for being the death and burial place of Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Katherine Parr. Sudeley Castle was also where Thomas Seymour got his baronetcy from. At Sudeley there are also surviving portraits of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, and Mary Brandon, Dowager Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk, and an unidentified lady, possibly Mary Boleyn. It is still occupied today, though parts are in ruins.

Wulfhall = Wulfhall was the Tudor home of the Seymour family, and likely the birth place of Jane Seymour, Queen of England and third wife of Henry VIII, as well as Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector. Henry VIII had stayed at Wulfhall in 1535. It became derelict and abandoned after 1571, and was demolished in 1723. The current building on the site dates back to the 17th century. None of the Tudor building now remains.

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