Whitehall Palace in England still stands

London tips for history buffs: In the footsteps of the Tudors

The Tudor period ended over 400 years ago with the death of Elizabeth I. But traces of this dynasty have been preserved to this day, in history and art, but also in architecture, resting places and places where the significant moments of the Tudors took place. Many of them are located in the British capital, so today I am giving you the best London tips if you want to explore the metropolis in the footsteps of the Tudors.

Obituary for the missing Tudor palaces

Unfortunately, many palaces that were of great importance in Tudor times have now disappeared. So z. B. the Palace of Placentia, birthplace of Henry VIII., Mary I and Elizabeth I, which was however demolished under Charles II and in its place today stands the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. Or the Palace of Whitehall, where Heinrich first married both Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour and eventually died. The palace fell victim to a fire, only the Banqueting House remained. Today the British seat of government is located on the extensive grounds, including the famous Downing Street No. 10.

The story of a vanished Tudor palace that upsets me the most is the story of Nonsuch Palace. The prestigious pompous building of Henry VIII, with which he wanted to surpass the magnificent castles of his competitor Franz I of France. The building of the palace cost (according to today's purchasing power) more than 100 million pounds and got its name because it was "nobody like". But in the following century, the Stuart king Charles II gave the palace to his mistress Barbara Villiers. Nonsuch Palace had these torn down piece by piece and sold to pay off their gambling debts ...

Well, enough of what we can unfortunately no longer look at and to what we can still admire today!

London tips for Tudor sightseeing

Westminster Abbey

The famous church where many things began and ended. Among other things, the foundation stone for the Tudor dynasty was laid here, because Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, the parents of Henry VIII, married here on January 18, 1486. ​​And all monarchs since William the Conqueror were crowned in the abbey.

Even more impressive is the long list of Tudor tombs that you can visit in Westminster Abbey: Henry VII, his wife Elizabeth of York and his mother Margaret Beaufort, two siblings of Henry VIII, Elizabeth and Edmund, Anna von Kleve, who died young , fourth wife of Henry VIII, Henry's three children Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, his son Henry, who died young, and his great-niece Mary Stuart.

In "The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries", which only opened in 2018, the image that was made on the occasion of the funeral of Henry VII is exhibited.

Hampton Court Palace

Where Henry VIII lived and loved - the palace on the Thames is THE Tudor Palace and a must for every Tudor fan. Henry's only son Edward was born here, his third wife Jane Seymour died here and this is where his fifth wife Katherine Howard is said to still be haunted. Costumed reenactors bring the Tudor court back to life, and you can even meet the king himself.

Insider tip: In a wooden panel in the Great Hall you will find a carving that was overlooked when an attempt was made to remove her traces after Anne Boleyn's execution: her and Heinrich's intricate initial letters. And on the ceiling of the Great Watching Chamber you will find Jane Seymour's coat of arms, the phoenix, in the golden decoration.

Tower of London

Of course, the Norman festivities in the heart of London should not be missing from this list. Because under the Tudors, the tower changed from a royal residence to a place of bloody history.

Until 1503, the English kings resided in the Tower when they were in London. But in the same year Elizabeth of York gave birth to her eighth child in the Tower and died a little later of puerperal fever. And her child died too. Henry VII was heartbroken and - understandably - gave up the Tower as a residence. The future monarchs like Henry VIII and Elizabeth I then only spent the night before their coronation in the Tower.

What finally cemented the notorious reputation of the tower: Here two queens of Henry VIII found death on the scaffold. Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard both died on Tower Green within the walls of the Tower and were buried in the Tower Chapel of St. Peter ad vincula. Anne Boleyn's ghost is said to haunt there to this day.

In the exhibition in the White Tower you can also see several armaments of Henry VIII - and understand how extensive the king became over the years.

Tower Hill

To the northwest of the tower is the area where most of the high-ranking executions took place during the Tudor era: Tower Hill. In fact, executions inside the Tower were the absolute exception, and only six executions took place there during the Tudor period. Most of the nobles were turned over to the hangman on Tower Hill.

At the place of execution at that time, among others. John Fisher and Thomas More lost their lives because they did not want to support England's separation from the Catholic Church. Anne Boleyn's brother and alleged lover George Boleyn and Henry VIII's former minister, Thomas Cromwell, were also executed there. The young Edward VI. handed over his two uncles, the ambitious brothers Edward and Thomas Seymour, to the executioner.

The place where the executions took place is identified and the names of many who died there are listed on boards.

Windsor Castle

The oldest inhabited castle in the world is still home to the royal family to this day, and its history goes back to William the Conqueror. Under the Tudors, Windsor was finally transformed from a fortress to a palace, without, however, relinquishing its security: Elizabeth I spent a lot of time in Windsor and stayed there even in tense times.

Henry VIII is buried in St. George’s Chapel, next to his third Queen Jane Seymour. Henry's grandparents Edward IV, from whom Heinrich is said to have inherited his good looks at a young age, and Elizabeth Woodville also rest there. His good friend Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, also found his final resting place there.

The bay window in the choir was built by Henry VIII for his first wife Catherine of Aragon. His last wife, Catherine Parr, watched her husband's funeral from there.

National Portrait Gallery

Do you now want to face the Tudor personalities whose footsteps you followed? Then off to St. Martin’s Place (near Trafalgar Square) and into the National Portrait Gallery. Because as the name suggests, this art gallery has dedicated itself to portraits through the centuries.

At the beginning of the Tudor period, portraiture had just become popular in England, and for the first time in history, lifelike portraits that were close to reality were captured on canvas. That is why today we can understand what the personalities of the Tudor period looked like, and you can see many of these images in the Tudor department of the National Portrait Gallery. From Henry VII and his rival Richard III, his son Henry VIII, his advisors Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell, his queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr to his children Mary I and Elizabeth I to their rival Mary Stuart If you have been with the Tudors for a while, you will recognize many famous paintings.

Here you can have a 360 ° view of the Tudor Galleries.

Entry to the National Portrait Gallery is free.