Top ten Tudor London sights

As 2009 sees 500 years since Henry VIII's accession to the throne we take a tour of the buildings and sights that helped shape Tudor London

    • Photo for Hampton Court Palace The Royal Colection 2007, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

      Hampton Court Palace

      Hampton Court Palace

      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. Read more

  • Tower of London

    Tower of London, Tower Hill, EC3N 4AB

    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. Read more

  • Westminster Abbey

    Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, SW1P 3PA

    ‘Westminster Abbey has some incredible artefacts,’ says David Starkey. ‘The cloister museum contains an extraordinary funeral mask of Henry VII.’ Read more

  • 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

    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

    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.

  • The Golden Hinde

    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. Read more

  • 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.