Hampton Court Palace, whose ‘Henry VIII: Heads and Hearts’ opens on April 10, is London's most famous Tudor building. Richard Evans is one of five Henry VIII impersonators there. ‘The power that Henry commanded is reflected in the way the courtiers respond to my presence,’ he says. Evans started in 2006 and soon received the ultimate promotion – ‘Probably on account of my appearance,’ he chuckles. ‘I marry Katherine Parr every day,’ says Evans, who stays in the haunted King’s apartments. No, he hasn’t seen a ghost.
The Tower of London (‘Henry VIII: Dressed To Kill’ opens on April 3), where a third of Henry’s wives were executed, is also full of Tudor knick-knacks, including armour belonging to an increasingly girthsome Henry.
‘Westminster Abbey has some incredible artefacts,’ says David Starkey. ‘The cloister museum contains an extraordinary funeral mask of Henry VII.’
The Medieval Banquet
Ivory House, St Katharine Docks, E1 9AT
At the Medieval Banquet in the cellars of Ivory House, St Katharine Docks, Henry VIII presides over a torchlit feast with troubadours and sword-wielding knights. Postprandial dancing make this particularly suited to stag dos (irrespective of how many wives you’ve had).
Lambeth Palace, SE1 7JU
Lambeth Palace is, according to Starkey, ‘the only place in London where, right from the road, you are confronted by Tudor London’. But Eltham Palace in Greenwich has a medieval Great Hall where Henry spent many of his formative years.
Palaces of St James's
St James's, SW1
Smaller remnants can be found around the old Palaces of St James’s. ‘That area is honeycombed with stuff,’ says Starkey. Wine merchants Berry Brothers & Rudd of St James’s Street has a wall from Henry’s tennis court extant in their shop.
Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge
Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, High Beach, IG10 4AE
This royal lodge in Chingford was built by Henry VIII as a base for hunting in Epping Forest. You can see examples of Tudor cookery and handle a replica crossbow while the kids get to dress up as Sir Walter Raleigh.
Shervingtons, 337 High Holborn, WC1V 7PX
Adults can smoke like Sir Walter by heading to Shervingtons (337 High Holborn), stockists of fine tobacco in the Tudor Staples Inn.
Golden Hinde, St Mary Overie Dock, Clink St, SE1 9DG
For juniors, the Golden Hinde in Southwark offers regular Tudor family days and the chance for kids to sleep overnight on a replica of Francis Drake’s ship.
Thames river trip
Which leads to Starkey’s final tip. ‘Take a trip on the river,’ he suggests. ‘Tudor London was like modern Venice with all the major institutions accessible by water.’ Greenwich, Whitehall, Lambeth and Hampton Court may have changed, but the Tudor highway known as the Thames still defines the spirit of our city.