In Plain View: The Tudor Treasures on our Streets, and Giveaway!

Dec4,2015 #Tudor places

Whitehall Museum
Whitehall Museum

For the last day of my book tour for Tudor Places of Great Britain I’m home, here at The Anne Boleyn Files – hello! Thank you so much for your support this week. Releasing a book is always a nerve-racking time but it’s been made so much easier by your support and encouragement. Thank you also to Olga, Beth, Gareth and Natalie for so kindly hosting me on their blogs this week.

For your chance to win a paperback copy of Tudor Places of Great Britain, simply leave a comment on this post telling me the name of your favourite Tudor place and why it’s your favourite. Leave your comment by midnight Friday 11th December. One comment will be picked at random and the winner notified by email. Good luck!

When we think of medieval and Tudor buildings, we tend to think of palaces, castles and manor houses, properties in acres of grounds or surrounded by walls or moats. Yet some Tudor properties are hiding in plain view on our high streets, buildings that many people take for granted and don’t even give a second look as they walk to work or to the shops.

Whitehall Museum

You can be forgiven for completely ignoring this property as you drive down Malden Road in Sutton, Surrey, because of its white 18th century weather-boarded frontage. However, hiding behind that is a historic timber-framed Tudor house dating back to around 1500; a two-storey wattle and daub jetty building, which is believed to have been a yeoman farmer’s house and which is now a museum.
Highlights include:

  • Wooden mullioned windows
  • The Nonsuch Palace exhibition – This includes a miniature model of the palace and fragments from the original building discovered during the 1959 archaeological dig
  • The Graffiti Door, which dates back to the time of the English Civil War and which has graffiti with Catholic and Royalist associations
  • The well in the garden, which is thought to have been dug in around 1400.

Sutton House

Set on Homerton High Street in Hackney is the oldest residential property in Hackney, a three-storey Tudor manor house built in 1535 by Sir Ralph Sadler, secretary to Thomas Cromwell and later King Henry VIII, and known back then as “the bryk place”. Although its past occupants did make alterations to the property, including dividing the house into two residences in the 1750s, Sutton House is still at heart a Tudor building and its rooms transport visitors back in time to the 16th century. It is fully open to the public so don’t walk past, instead pop in and enjoy its original oak-panelled rooms, original carved fireplaces and charming courtyard.

Sutton House
Sutton House

Plas Mawr

Plas Mawr, or “The Great Hall”, is an Elizabethan townhouse located in the heart of the town of Conwy, North Wales. Described by Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh government, as “an Elizabethan gem worth its weight in gold”, Plas Mawr was built between 1576 and 1585 by well-travelled and influential merchant Robert Wynn. Wynn’s house stands as testimony to his love of grandeur, colour and hospitality, with its colourful ornamental plasterwork and friezes, and the skilful carpentry. The house’s furnishings are based on an inventory taken in 1665 and many are original, and the décor and gardens are also based on what the house would have looked like in 1665 in the time of Robert Wynn’s grandson, also Robert.

The house has been described by historian Rick Turner as “the finest surviving townhouse of the Elizabethan era”.

Plas Mawr
Plas Mawr

Tudor Merchant’s House

The Tudor Merchant’s House, Tenby, is thought to be the most complete surviving example of Tenby’s Tudor domestic architecture. A 15th century date is accepted by many for this small first floor hall house, which may have been associated with Tenby’s heyday as a port. Strategically placed in relation to the Bristol Channel and Irish Sea, Tenby was a prosperous medieval and Tudor port. However, the town declined due to the disruption of sea trade by foreign wars, the ascendance of Pembroke and Narberth as market towns, the Civil War, outbreaks of plague and increasing control of fish stocks by West of England fishermen, and many medieval and Tudor buildings fell into ruin. Eventually, most of medieval and Tudor Tenby was demolished or re-modelled to make way for the Georgian and Victorian terraces that now characterise the town, and the Tudor Merchant’s House is the only domestic building to have survived intact to bear witness to the town’s early origins and pre-eminence.

The property is now a museum with Tudor shopfront, Tudor kitchen and Tudor artefacts, taking visitors back in time to the 15th century.

Tudor Merchant's House
Tudor Merchant’s House

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

I grew up just a few miles from Stratford-upon-Avon and it’s where our family often went shopping on a Saturday, so I’m guilty of hurrying past this historic property while trying not to get into tourists’ photos, and just focusing on getting my shopping done. This beautiful half-timbered Tudor house can be found on Henley Street, one of the town’s oldest streets, and was purchased by William Shakespeare’s father, John, in 1556. It now houses a museum and the “Famous Beyond Words Exhibition” which explores William Shakespeare’s life story. Even if you haven’t got time to go inside, it’s worth pausing a while outside and just taking in the beauty of this house and perhaps muttering some Shakespeare under your breath. Just be careful not to photobomb anyone’s photo!

Shakespeare's birthplace


Shakespeare’s Birthplace is not the only Tudor attraction that Stratford-upon-Avon has to offer. Other attractions include:

  • Tudor World – An unusual, small, independent museum set within a Tudor property on Sheep Street, in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon. It does not have artefacts or period furniture but instead recreates different areas of Tudor life, interwoven with stories of the building’s rich history (on a site that dates back to the birth of the town in the 12th century) and the history of Stratford itself.
  • Holy Trinity Church – the 13th century church, which is the resting place of William Shakespeare, Anne Hathaway and members of their family.
  • Nash’s House and New Place – William Shakespeare died at New Place in 1616 and although the house is no longer standing, visitors can enjoy the garden and see the mulberry tree which is said to have been grown from a cutting planted by the bard himself. The site is also home to the “Dig for Shakespeare” archaeological project.
  • Anne Hathaway’s cottage – this cottage in nearby Shottery was the childhood home of William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne, and dates back to the early 1460s.
  • Mary Arden’s Farm – home of Shakespeare’s grandparents and his mother, Mary Arden. Visitors to the farm can learn all about Tudor and Elizabethan rural life.
  • Hall’s Croft – the elegant 17th century home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband Dr John Hall. Visitors can visit Dr Hall’s consulting room and see 17th century medical artefacts and Dr Hall’s medical notes.

And you will also see plenty of Tudor properties as you do your shopping too, they’re unmissable with their black and white walls. My brother once ran a gift shop in Henley Street and in his shop was a glass window on the wall showing visitors the original wattle-and-daub structure – it was brilliant, but most visitors didn’t even notice it.

Wall showing wattle-and-daub
Wall showing wattle-and-daub

Tudor villages

But if the Tudor properties of Stratford-upon-Avon aren’t quite enough for you, why not visit the Herefordshire village of Weobley which is regarded as one of the best preserved Tudor black-and-white villages in the UK? It really is charming and is like stepping back in time. A must-do is the Weobley Heritage Trails which takes visitors around the village following plaques that explain the history of buildings and what happened there in the past.


Or how about Lavenham in Suffolk? Lavenham rose from humble beginnings to become the fourteenth richest town in England during the medieval era, an astonishing achievement for such a modest sized place and due in large part to its success as a centre of the lucrative wool trade. It is known for its medieval crooked houses, narrow streets, Tudor guildhall and lovely parish church of St Peter and St Paul. Definitely worth a visit.


Those are just some of the Tudor treasures on Britain’s streets and there are plenty more!

Don’t miss my other book tour stops and giveaways:

Tudor Places of Great Britain is available as a Kindle book and paperback from Amazon – click here – and from other book retailers as a paperback.


  • Whitehall Museum – © Copyright Roger Miller and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
  • Sutton House – © Copyright Vicky Ayech and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
  • Plas Mawr – © Copyright Rob Farrow and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
  • Tudor Merchant’s House – © Copyright Jo Turner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
  • Shakespeare’s Birthplace – © Claire Ridgway 2013.
  • Wattle and daub – © Claire Ridgway 2013.
  • Weobley – © Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
  • Lavenham – © Copyright Ron Strutt and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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33 thoughts on “In Plain View: The Tudor Treasures on our Streets, and Giveaway!”
  1. I think that my favorite Tudor place, outside of Hever Castle, would have to be the Great Hall and ruins of Eltham Palace. I felt such an atmosphere here. This was a happy place for Anne and it would be full of the sound of children. I never went into the “new” house at Eltham. The sounds and feelings from the past were enough for me! Would love to win your book. I used Natalie and Sarah ‘ s book as my guide book on my trip last summer. My friend in Nottingham has been happy to get me around to many places, Hardwick Hall, Baddesly Clinton, the London sights. I love having a definative guide book.

  2. It is very difficult to choose between two.

    The first is Shakespeare’s home in Strarford. He is one of my favourite writers, so it was very important for me to be in his house and then go and see his tomb.

    And the other is, the Tower of London, because it is everything in life in a buildig: it is self-defence and treason, it is love and death, it is history and life, it is common people and big historical names, it is tradition and modern world, it is real but it has also got something immaterial and spiritual.

    And, well I wish Westimster Palace hadn’t burnt down…

  3. I like the fact that not only was Anne’s family from Never Castle; didn’t Anne of Cleves later stay there after Henry VIII separated from her?

  4. Hever Castle is my favorite Tudor site. Just so much more I have always associated with Hever. There were probably many episodes of manipulation between Anne and Henry trying to achieve their separate ends – Anne: to become Queen of England and Henry: to possess Anne and get a son by her.

  5. Wow, how do I choose?!? I live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Tudor era is definitely one of my favorite subjects to read about. If I have to choose just one place, it would have to be Weobley. This has to be my favorite because the picture says it all. Out of all of them, I feel the most “transported back in time.” It’s simply gorgeous, and I would love to visit this awesome place some day, along with tons of others of places. I’ve always wanted to visit London and the surrounding towns. But Weobley makes me feel like I’m there just by looking at the photo. This is so cliché, but pick me, pick me! Haha. Thank you for sharing all that you do and for this cool opportunity! Cheers!


  6. When I was growing up, Little Moreton Hall was quite near to us and I loved visiting there…It is so impressive when you are passing it on the main road and when you are in the house the sound of the creaking wooden floorboards and the smell of the oldness of it is just wonderful….I think my favourite part is the long gallery upstairs…to think how many people walked up and down there when the weather was too bad to go out…magic.

  7. My favourite Tudor place is the Tower of London. When I was walking on the grounds, I couldn’t help but think of the people who also walked there in happy or horrible moments of their lives. It’s a place that moves me.

    I have visited it twice and I’d like to visit it again!

  8. Hever to me is beautiful I visited it many years ago and it just seeps of history and the tragic story of Anne Boleyn and Henry V111, althought Lord Astor was responsible for how it looks today you know the castle and grounds are where Anne once walked and you can imagine her there, also in the gallery are scenes from her life, her bedchamber is so small and cosy and on the wall hangs the painting of her holding a rose, this painting is the one that often appears in documentaries such as ‘The last days of Anne Boleyn’, I have also visited Anne Hathaways cottage and that is truly beautiful to, the garden is so picturesque, typically an old fashioned garden with lupins, foxgloves, tulips, little meandering paths and a little wooden seat, I sat there and it was like being in heaven, if you haven’t visited it you must, it’s a very lovely place.

  9. Somewhere in the middle of England is a hunting lodge that Henry viii stayed in. My husband and I with our newborn daughter spent the night there back in 1986. I have no idea where it is or what it is called, but it was magnificent. I wish I could find it again, so that I might stay there again on a repeat visit to England.
    I love England and the Tudor time period. I read each of your posts with enthusiasm.
    Thank you for doing what you do!

      1. I just received your e-mail saying that I was the winner. Thank you so much ! I am so excited to read about all the tudor places that i will visit on my next visit !!!

  10. If the palace was still there Nonsuch would have been my favourite Tudor place. The grounds are beautiful as is the eighteenth century house in its place. The original plan is laid out and you can get a sense from the sculptures and plaster work in the Museum of London. It was fantastical.

    However I have to have three actual favourites. Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire, for one, the home of Katherine Willoughby, her parents and that of her two husbands, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and Richard Bertie, Speke Hall, nr Liverpool, the home of the Norris and Watt family, and favourite of all time, Palace of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Henry Viii, home of royalty for generations. Grimsthorpe I fell in love with, here Brandon fixed it up big time from a small home to give it a grand Tudor face, a new wing, to entertain Queen Katherine Howard and Henry Viii during the progress of 1541. Here also Catherine Brandon entertained Hugh Latimer during the reign of Edward vi. His book of sermons was dedicated to her. I love the portrait gallery and even the much later Chinese room. Last time I went a Tudor musical group played in the library/great hall. I love Speke because it’s on my doorstep, this week you can visit to make Christmas decorations from winter blooms. They have two priest holes and a spy hole and a witchmark in the loft. There is s great freeze which shows the Norris family and two wives, recreations at the weekend and beautiful walks. Hampton Court has so many connections to Henry and his wives, you don’t know where to begin. The chapel is the last royal chapel from the reformation. Pannelling now covers the window from Saint Margaret Windsor moved here and once belonging to Katherine of Aragon. The royal pew is here and here Edward vi was baptized. A new fountain has been reconstructed in the court yard. Wolseys closset was recently found. The best Great Hall in England is here, the council chamber has been done, the tapestries are wonderful, the arms of Jane Seymour and Anne Boleyn can be found, the tiltyard tower is a cafe and Tudor gardens mix with later Georgian splendour. There is always something to do there. Highly recommended.

  11. The Tutor Merchant house is my favorite. The ancient stone design with, tutor-era windows and the two-story stone chimney scream quintessential , Middle-ages architecture with a class and quaintness that cannot ever be found in modern buildings.

  12. Phew, difficult choice that. To be honest l think it would be the one l was stood in at the time. They all have stories to tell from the humblest abode to the grandest of palaces.
    Some of my favourites have to be Gainsbough Old Hall, Rufford Old Hall, and of course Hever. The last ‘proper’ timber built one l visited was John Knox House on the Royal mile in Edinburgh couple of years ago. Even though it is now thought he never actually lived there, he had religious ‘buisness’ there, apparently preaching from the first floor window to the street of people below A wonderful little building, now a museum about Knox and the Scottish reformation. It was through the association with him that the building was saved and restored, otherwise that little treasure would have been lost for good.

  13. I think my favourite Tudor place is Hampton Court, partially *because* of the later renovations – the layout is essentially Tudor; the Great Hall and Chapel Royal are still dazzlingly intact, but it forces me to think, to imagine stripping back the gaudy baroque detailing and seeing five hundred years into the past. And when you see the halls and corridors that haven’t changed it is that much more gratifying.
    Hampton Court, like all Tudor places, has seen so much history that is at once so familiar but so far away it always makes me feel incredibly privileged to stand there.

  14. Hever Castle since it was Anne’s family’s home. I would love to walk the long galley and visit at Christmas time.

  15. Well let me see…I absolutely adore the Great Hall at Hampton Court, the pictures I’ve seen are stunning, I also like the place where Catherine of Aragon was buried, mostly because she’s there, but I have to say my favorite based on pictures (I live in NJ, I’ve never left the East Coast), is Hever. The grounds are amazing and it would be amazing if I could visit!

  16. I think I would really like to see the tudor’s merchants house; seeing how they lived, seeing the kitchen. And I would love to see Hampton Court! Amazing location.

  17. I think my favorite Tudor location is the Henry VII chapel at Westminster Abbey. It causes all sorts of evocative emotions and an endless stream of thought.

  18. i would love to see etham palace and the great hall and also old hatfield house along with
    hever castle there are so many that i cant wait to se but the history in these places would be so interesting so many stories the walls hold

  19. Fantastic book Claire, I got it for Kindle and it has given me all kinds of inspiration for places to visit. I live in the East Midlands and very close to Hardwick, but also Haddon and Chatsworth are not too far away. I visit Norfolk on holiday and base in Walsingham, so I really must get to see Blickling, Houghton and Oxburgh – as much as I can in a wheelchair anyway. Hard to quarrel with Hampton Court and Westminster Abbey as joint favourites – so much all in one place.

  20. I’m with Dawn 1st as far as Gainsborough Old Hall goes – said to have the finest Tudor kitchens after Hampton Court- have been in love with it since I first saw it when I was five. Also agree with Dawn about the John Knox House in Edinburgh – a real little treasure.

  21. Favorite Tudor places are Hever Castle and Tower of London. Hever was where Anne Boleyn & Henry shared happy times. The Tower of London is where she endured tragedy & is her burial place. These places always bring to mind this remarkable woman.

  22. I know it may be cliche but my very favorite place is Hampton Courts. This is a palace where love ruled. I love the gardens. It is so easy for me to see the shades of Henry VIII and Anne courting and in the fresh throes of courtship.

  23. So difficult! But I think I would have to say Gainsborough Old Hall, one of the manors Henry and Catherine Howard visited in 1541. The medieval kitchen considered one of the best surviving tudor kitchens. All aspects of Tudor life interest me, but I am truly awed by the volume of meals/food that passed through these ‘humble’ kitchens!

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