10 of the Best Tudor Historical Sites You Can See in Britain

The Tudor period (1498-1603) is well known for its grand palaces. It’s also known for its distinctive black and white styling of architecture, which was incorporated into many of the theatres, street facades and homes of the period. Tudor architecture is further recognized by its distinctive style of arches-a low and wide arch with a pointed apex is now known as a Tudor arch.

Here are 10 of the best Tudor locations in Britain which represent the architecture, lifestyle and culture of the Tudor dynasty.

1. Hampton Court

hampton court

Hampton Court is a truly iconic Tudor site, being a key palace in the reign of perhaps England’s most famous monarch, Henry VIII. It was built in 1514 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, but Henry later seized the palace for himself and enlarged it. Such events as Jane Seymour’s birth to the future King Edward VI took place here. Henry VIII spent three of his honeymoons and Hampton Court Palace and it was here also that he was told of the infidelity of Kathryn Howard, which would eventually lead to her arrest and execution (and according to some her ghost inhabits the Haunted Gallery). It is also notable for its gardens, maze, historic real tennis court and huge grape vine which is the largest grape vine in the world.

2. Ann Hathaway’s Cottage

ann hathaways cottege

This picturesque cottage in the leafy village of Shottery, Warwickshire is where William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, lived as child. It is a twelve roomed farmhouse set in extensive gardens. The cottage was known as Newlands Farm in Shakespeare’s day and had more than 90 acres of land attached to it. Its exposed timber frame and thatched roof is typical of the Tudor style of architecture for a village cottage.

3. Shakespeare’s Globe

globe theatre

Shakespeare’s globe on the south bank of the Thames is a modern reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre destroyed in a fire in 1613. The original Globe was built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and was where many of Shakespeare’s plays, such as Macbeth and Hamlet, were acted out. Founded by Sam Wannamaker in 1997, the reconstruction was built as close as possible to the original Globe Theatre from available evidence and measurements. The result is an authentic experience of what theatre, a key aspect of the lifestyle during this period, might have been like.

4. Longleat

longleat house

Built by Sir John Thynne and designed by Robert Smythson, Longleat is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture in Britain. The original Augustinian priory which existed on the site was destroyed by fire in 1567. It took 12 years to complete and is currently is the home of the 7th Marquess of Bath, Alexander Thynn. It was the first stately home to open to the public on a fully commercial basis on 1 April 1949. It’s set within 900 acres which today includes a maze and a safari park.

5. Mary Arden’s Farm

mary arden's house

Located in the village of Wilmcote, roughly 3 miles away from Stratford upon Avon, is a farm owned and lived in by William Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden. It has been a working farmhouse for centuries which has kept it in good condition. It is also neighbouring Palmers Farmhouse, a Tudor house that unlike Mary’s Arden house, remains largely unchanged. The attraction allows the visitor to experience and explore the daily life on a Tudor farm.

6. Pembroke Castle

pembroke castle

Pembroke castle is a site of significance to Tudor enthusiasts for one key reason: it was here the Tudor dynasty began when Margaret Beaufort gave birth to their first monarch – Henry VII. The castle itself dates back to the 12th century and epitomizes the image of a medieval castle.

7. St James’s Palace

st james's palace

Along with Hampton Court Palace, St James’s Palace is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many owned by King Henry VIII. Though it was always secondary in importance to the Palace of Whitehall during the Tudor period, it is yet an important site that has retained many of its Tudor architectural aspects. It was built under Henry VIII between 1531 and 1536. Two of Henry VIII’s children died at the Palace: Henry FitzRoy and Mary I. Elizabeth I often resided at the palace, and is said to have spent the night there while waiting for the Spanish Armada to sail up the channel.

8. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

The history of Westminster Abbey goes back to when it was a Benedictine Abbey in the 10th century. Its reconstruction which was started in 13th century was finally completed when the nave was finished in 1517 during the reign of Henry VIII.  All of the crowned Tudor monarchs except Henry VIII are buried in Westminster Abbey. Henry VII shares a tomb with his wife Elizabeth of York. His mother Margaret Beaufort is also buried nearby. Only one of Henry VIII’s wives is buried in the Abbey: Anne of Cleves.

9. Windsor Castle

windsor castle

Windsor Castle was built in around 1080 under William the Conqueror but its significance as a Tudor historical site is large. It is the burial place of Henry VIII, as well his third wife, Jane Seymour. Its chapel, St George’s Chapel, was initially built by Edward IV but finished off by Henry VIII; it contains four-centered arches which epitomized the Tudor style of architecture. Henry VIII also built a new gate for the lower ward which is now known as Henry VIII gate.

10. The Tower of London

tower of london

The Tower of London was a site often used by the Tudors, most famously as a prison. Elizabeth I before she became Queen was imprisoned in the Bell Tower by her sister Mary. Thomas More was also imprisoned in the Bell Tower. The oldest part of the tower complex is the White Tower, built in 1078 under William the Conqueror, and is where Elizabeth of York (Queen to Henry VII) died during her childbirth in 1503.

Studied History at King's College London and has a particular interest in the history of God and Christianity