Following Fiona contains affiliate links which may earn me a commission for any bookings at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. Check out the Privacy Policy for more information.

Tudor Places To Visit In London

The Tudors are perhaps the most famous royal dynasty in British history. Five family members (plus Lady Jane Grey) ruled for 118 years and made decisions that fundamentally changed Britain. 

Perhaps if Henry VIII had just stuck with his first wife, the Tudor dynasty would have faded away without much notice, and Edward and Elizabeth would never have been born. But we all know what actually happened – Henry VIII had 6 wives, 3 (mostly) legitimate children, and was part of the most fascinating of British royal dynasties. 

Several famous London landmarks have Tudor connections, so if you are as interested in them as I am, make sure you include some of these Tudor places in your London itinerary.  

Hampton Court Palace

Who Were The Tudors?

Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Lady Jane Grey was briefly proclaimed queen between Edward and Mary’s reigns, but the ‘nine-day queen’ was never crowned. 

They were a dramatic bunch from start to finish and ruled England from 1485 and 1603. 

Henry VII

Henry VII became king at the end of the Wars of the Roses. He then married Elizabeth of York, uniting the opposing houses from the war. Elizabeth was the older sister of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ who were murdered during the war – but the person responsible has never been identified. Henry VII is one of several suspects.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII was never meant to be king. His older brother Arthur was the heir to the throne and Catherine of Aragon’s first husband before his early death. Henry became the heir, succeeded to the throne 7 years later and married his sister-in-law less than 2 months after becoming king.

38 years, 6 wives, 3 (sort of legitimate) children and 1 reformation later, he left the country in chaos when he died. After forming the Church of England the country was divided and his heirs were a mix of Catholic and Protestant, leading to decades of uncertainty over the official religion.

Edward VI

Edward VI was the only child of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. His parents were betrothed the day after the execution of his father’s previous wife, Anne Boleyn, and married just 10 days later. His mother died in childbirth, he became king at 9 and died aged 15. 

Mary I

Mary I was the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, and was declared illegitimate when her father moved on to Anne Boleyn.

She had a bad start to her reign. She was Edward’s older sister and stood on the opposite side of a religious divide. He decided to disinherit her to prevent her from re-establishing Catholicism in England and chose Lady Jane Grey to become Queen instead. Jane lasted just 9 days before her supporters defected and proclaimed Mary as queen.

The rest of Mary’s reign didn’t go that well either – she executed hundreds of Protestants by burning and became known as ‘Bloody Mary’, had several false pregnancies, and the husband she adored, Philip II of Spain, felt only a ‘reasonable regret’ when she died. 

Elizabeth II

Elizabeth I ruled for 45 years and might be considered one of the more successful British monarchs. She was the daughter of the infamous Anne Boleyn and was proclaimed illegitimate aged 2 years old when her parents’ marriage fell apart and her mother executed.

Although she was by her sister’s side when Mary rode into London as queen, she later became the focus of a plot to depose Mary and was imprisoned by her sister in the Tower of London. She became queen in 1558 when Mary died without producing an heir. 

Elizabeth I provided decades of stability and relative prosperity for her people. She survived plots to depose her, the Spanish Armada and several rebellions.

As she remained unmarried, the Tudor dynasty ended upon her death when the crown transferred to James, the first of the Stuart kings and the son of her long-term rival and cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. 

Places To Visit For Tudor History In London

The Tower Of London

Any history fans visiting London should make a trip to the Tower of London. It’s one of the city’s oldest buildings and acted as both a palace and prison for the Tudors.

Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII stayed there the night before her coronation, and just a few years later it is where she was imprisoned before being beheaded on the Tower Green. Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I were also both imprisoned in the Tower.

Aside from Tudor prisoners, the Tower also houses the Crown Jewels and various other historical artefacts and tales. 

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace was one of Henry VIII’s primary homes, and the Great Hall and Tudor kitchens are still standing today. Each of the 6 wives lived for a time at Hampton Court. Jane Seymour even died at Hampton Court Palace after giving birth to the future King Edward VI. 

The Great Hall saw performances by William Shakespeare and his company of actors – including the first ever performance of Macbeth.

One of the most famous portraits of Henry VIII and his children is on display at Hampton Court Palace.  

It’s a stunning building and there is a lot to see outside of just the Tudor history. The gardens are lovely and later monarchs added to the palace and it has been used many times for filming, including for the Bridgerton series. The palace runs lots of events, including a joust for a few weekends in summer.  

National Portrait Gallery

If you’ve ever read a book about the Tudors that included paintings of them, chances are that a few of those paintings now hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

All of the Tudor monarchs are featured, as well as several of Henry VIII’s wives and other important figures from the Tudor age such as Thomas Wolsey, Francis Walsingham and Thomas More. 

The gallery is free to visit and has several rooms dedicated to Tudor portraiture. If your interest in history has an artistic component, I highly recommend a visit to the National Portrait Gallery. 

Westminster Abbey

Henry VII was crowned at Westminster Abbey, the start of the Tudor era. Building work for the Abbey continued under his reign, but stopped during the reign of his son Henry VIII during the Reformation.

Henry VIII was crowned in Westminster Abbey, but his break from Rome led to the removal of relics and treasures from many monasteries around England, including Westminster Abbey. 

The abbey has marked the beginnings and endings of reigns for centuries. Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I were all crowned and buried at Westminster Abbey.

To this day it continues to act as the site for Royal coronations and funerals, including the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022, and King Charles III’s coronation in 2023. 

Visitors can attend services for free, but to explore the Abbey in more detail you will need to purchase a ticket. 

Further Afield

The Old Palace at Hatfield

Hatfield House

The Old Palace at Hatfield was used as a nursery and home for Henry VIII’s three children – Mary I, Elizabeth I and Edward VI.

It has particularly strong associations with Elizabeth I as she lived there for many years as an adult during the reigns of both of her siblings. In fact she was sitting under an oak tree in the grounds when she was informed of her sister’s death, and that she was now Queen of England. 

The Long Gallery in Hatfield House

Hatfield is still privately owned, but several parts of the estate are open to visitors. The Old Palace is often used for private events so isn’t open to the general public every day. 

The main house contains several portraits, including the Rainbow Portrait of Elizabeth I. 

Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. The rooms inhabited by the Boleyn family have been refurbished and are now open to visitors. 

You can see her childhood bedroom and the rooms where she spent her time. Several portraits are hung in the castle, which also houses artifacts such as a Prayer Book signed by Anne Boleyn. 

The gardens are beautiful, especially in summer with its extensive rose gardens. The castle holds events around the year – summer jousts, craft fairs and a Christmas market. 

Conclusion

If you want to explore Tudor history, there are many places in London where you can walk in their footsteps and visit the sites where several important events occurred.

It’s a fantastic city to visit for history fans, with many buildings that are hundreds of years old. For more historical attractions in London, have a look at the best historic sites to visit, and the best history tours on offer. 

Please Share!