Early Tudor Palaces and Country Houses

 

Early Tudor Palaces and Country Houses

1485-1550

Compton Wynyates

Public Domain: 19th century print or a watercolour from Nash Mansions of England published in 1870
Public Domain

“The delightful red-brick manor house of Compton Wynyates in Warwickshire, was begun by Edmund Compton in 1481, just prior to the accession of the House of Tudor. Edmund’s sturdy but good-looking country home was given some elegant editions, including porch and some towers by his son, the prominent Tudor courtier, Sir William Compton, between 1493 and 1528.” –The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.348)

King Henry VIII’s room at Compton Wynyates had stained glass windows featuring the royal arms and throne of Aragon – the royal arms of his future wife, Katharine of Aragon. In 1572, Elizabeth I also stayed in the same room as her father.

In later years Compton Wynyates became uninhabited. This caused the house to decay and nearly fell into complete ruin. In 1768 it was ordered by Lord Northampton to be demolished, but the order was not carried out. In the late 19th century it was restored and in 1884 was once again inhabited by the 5th Marquess of Northampton.

Hampton Court Palace

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Photo Credit: Christopher Wren / CC BY-SA 3.0

“One of England’s finest royal building associated with the magnificent court of Henry VIII, although major changes were made in the 17th century during the reign of William and Mary. The palace came into royal hands as a gift from the statesman, Cardinal Wolsey to his royal master, Henry VIII.” -The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.350)

In an episode of “The Tudors” on Showtime, it shows Henry VIII becoming a little distraught by the grandeur of the palace that Wolsey had built - it was greater than any palace Henry had at the time. Once Wolsey noticed Henry’s reaction to the grand palace he offered it as a gift to His Majesty. At this time Wolsey was starting to fall out of favor of the  king and out of self-preservation offered his splendid palace…I’m sure Hampton Court Palace was hard to part with, but then again, so is your head.

(c) Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Hever Castle

Public Domain
Photo Credit: The Giant Puffin / Public Domain

“The moated and fortified manor house of Hever Castle, near Edenbridge in Kent, was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth l. Henry VIII was a frequent visitor in the 1520’s when he paid court to Anne.”- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.352)

After the death of Anne’s father Hever Castle was taken over by the Crown. Henry VIII gave it to Anne of Cleves after their divorce in 1540. When Anne of Cleves died in 1557 the Castle again reverted to the Crown until Queen Mary l gifted it to Sir Edward Waldegrave.  For more on what happened: Hever Castle & Gardens – Owners

© National Portrait Gallery, London
Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein the Younger

Leeds Castle

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Photo credit: Sophie Templer / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Henry VIII took a great liking to Leeds Castle in Kent, and carried out lavish improvements, transforming it from castle to fortified palace. The King was often in Kent, where he was entertained at Penhurst Place and visited Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle. Leeds Castle had well-established royal links, and had been favoured by kings and queens since Edward l honeymooned there in 1299.” –The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.353)

In 1519, Henry VIII transformed Leeds Castle for his wife Katherine of Aragon.

Katherine of Aragon
Katherine of Aragon

Sulgrave Manor

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Photo Credit: Cathy Cox / CC BY-SA 2.0

“The sturdy, unpretentious manor house at Sulgrave, in Northamptonshire, was built in the early Tudor years by a direct ancestor of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America. Lawrence Washington, younger son of a prominent Lancashire family, was born c. 1500. He became a wool merchant and bought the Priory of St. Andrew, Northhamptonshire, from the Crown in 1539, following Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.356)

Edinburgh Castle & Holyroodhouse

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Photo Credit: Kim Traynor / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Edinburgh Castle was a well-established stronghold and royal dwelling by the latter years of the 14th century when the future Robert ll build David’s Tower, containing royal apartments. In the mid-1430’s, James l built a new Great Chamber, probably alongside the royal accommodations in the Tower. His successor, James ll, brought the great siege gun of Mons Meg to the castle, which assumed an increasingly important role as a royal artillery.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.358)

The increased use of Edinburgh Castle as Scotland’s principal foundry in 1511 left little room for the royal family to stay. In the meantime, the royals began to stay more regularly at the Abbey of Holyrood. King James IV built Holyroodhouse as his principal residence in the late 15th century.

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Holyroodhouse – Photo Credit: Kim Traynor / CC BY-SA 3.0
James_IV_of_Scotland
James IV of Scotland

Following her return from France in 1561 Mary, Queen of Scots stayed at Holyroodhouse. In 1565 she married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley there, and in 1566 the brutal murder of David Rizzio catapulted Mary into scandal after Lord Darnley was suspected of orchestrating the murder.

Mary, Queen of Scots
David Rizzio
David Rizzio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falkland Palace & Stirling Castle

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Falkland Palace – Photo Credit: Sam Styles / CC BY-SA 2.0

“Falkland Palace began as a castle built by the Macduffs, earls of Fife, probably in the 13th century. James ll extended the castle and frequently visited it to hunt deer and wild board. After 1458, when he granted a charter, it was known as Falkland Palace.” “James V’s daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, was a frequent visitor to Falkland Palace after her return to Scotland from French exile in 1561.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.359)

King James ll of Scotland
King James II of Scotland

Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s most historically important sites and was once a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations at the castle.

Knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors once flocked to Stirling Castle to revel in its grandeur with its superb sculptures and beautiful gardens. It was a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations from christenings to coronations.” – VisitScotland.com

Stirling Castle http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
Stirling Castle – Photo Credit: Finlay McWalter / CC BY-SA 3.0

Deal Castle

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Photo Credit: Lieven Smits / CC BY-SA 3.0

“Henry VIII built the low-lying artillery fort of Deal Castle, in Kent, as one of a string of coastal fortifications built around England’s south coast in the later 1530s and early 1540s. Following his break with the Church of Rome, he feared invasion by the armies of a Franco-Spanish Catholic alliance brokered by the Pope.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.360)

Notice how from above Deal Castle looks like the Tudor Rose. Henry VIII was in his late 40s when he build these forts. Anne of Cleves is said to have stayed at Deals Castle after her long voyage from Europe on her way to London to meet her future husband.

Henry Vlll in 1542
Anne of Cleves - 1540s
Anne of Cleves – 1540s

Syon House

Public Domain
Public Domain

The splendid Syon House, now surrounded by London’s westward sprawl at Brenford in Middlesex, was built during the reign of Edward VI by his uncle Edward, Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector. Somerset built a three-storey building with battlements and angle turrets around a central courtyard. His house stood on the foundations of the abbey church that had belonged to the convent on the side.” –The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.362)

The land which Syon House was built had originally belonged to a convent. The nuns’ confessor, Richard Reynolds refused to accept Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church of England – he was was executed and his body placed on the gateway of the abbey to be used as an example of what happens to those who refuse to accept the Act of Supremacy.

Henry’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard was detained here prior to her execution in 1542.

Henry’s coffin rested at Syon House on it’s journey to Westminster and had burst open overnight- dogs were said to be seen gnawing on the royal corpse. Many suspected divine retribution since this happened at Syon House and the events that took place years earlier.

Katherine Howard
Katherine Howard

Sudeley Castle

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Photo Credit: Wdejager / CC BY-SA 4.0

“The 15th century Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire was rebuilt in the late 1540s by Lord Thomas Seymour. Thomas was the brother of the Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector to Edward VI; their sister, Jane, had been Henry VIII’s third wife, who had died giving birth to Edward in 1537, making the brothers the young king’s uncles.”The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.363)

After the king’s death, Thomas Seymour married Henry’s widow Katherine Parr. Thomas and Katherine moved into Sudeley Castle where she gave birth to their daughter, Mary on 30 August 1548. Katherine died there from puerperal fever a week later and was buried in St. Mary’s Church near the castle.

Thomas Seymour
Thomas Seymour
Katherine Parr
Katherine Parr

Anne of Cleves: Betrothal to Henry VIII

 

In early 1539, King Henry VIII was ready for a fourth queen after being urged for months, if not years, by his advisers to marry again. The loss of Jane Seymour was significant to Henry but even he knew to carry on the dynasty he’d need another male heir – the “spare”. When he began looking for a suitable queen there was much hesitation from European royals. The outcome of his previous queens had frightened many of them away. The beautiful Christina of Milan was known to have said that if she had two heads she would risk it, but she alas had only one.

Thomas Cromwell was desperate to please the king and find him a new bride. He did so in finding the Anne and Amelia Cleves in present day Germany. In March 1539, the king sent Nicholas Wotton and Robert Barnes to Cleves to arrange a marriage with either Anne or her sister Amelia.

When Anne and Amelia were presented to Wotton and Barnes they were completely covered and the men were unable to report back on their attractiveness and figures. Hans Holbein was dispatched to Cleves to paint the sisters.  In the meantime, Wotton and Barnes reported to Cromwell that Anne was the more favored of the two sisters. They didn’t know this for certain, it’s only what they had been told. What were they thinking!?

Cromwell reported to the king, “Every man praiseth the beauty of the said Lady Anne, as well for her face as for her person, above all other ladies excellent. She as far excelleth the Duchess of Saxony as the golden sun excelleth the silver moon. Every man praiseth the good virtues and honesty with shamefacedness which plainly appeareth in the gravity of her countenance.”  Undoubtedly, Cromwell was exaggerating what he had heard. Few had seen much of Anne, because she was always well covered in cumbersome clothing when she very rarely appeared in public.

With this being said it was decided that Anne was the sister that Henry wanted for his a new queen.

The Duke of Cleves (Anne’s brother) had the final say on an agreement of marriage. It seems the Duke was reluctant to let his sister go…raising many objections. He said he was too poor to afford a dowry; that any woman marrying Henry would not know happiness.

Henry decided he would take Anne without a dowry if her portrait pleased him. A very generous offer – a dowry was always offered in this situation. The Duke of Cleves could not refuse the offer and finally gave permission to Holbein to paint his sister, Anne.

Holbein completed his portrait of Anne. It was one of the most exquisite portraits ever painted. The above image is a  miniature that is featured at Victoria and Albert Museum – the actual miniature that Holbein painted of Anne. Henry must have liked what he saw and heard about Anne’s appearance (or fear of another wanting to marry her) because on 4 September 1539, without a dowry, she was betrothed to the King of England.

Believed to be a Holbein sketch of Amelia of Cleves.
Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein the Younger
Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein the Younger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deal Castle

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“Henry Vlll built the low-lying artillery fort of Deal Castle, in Kent, as one of a string of coastal fortifications built around England’s south coast in the later 1530s and early 1540s. Following his break with the Church of Rome, he feared invasion by the armies of a Franco-Spanish Catholic alliance brokered by the Pope.” – The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.360)

Notice how from above Deal Castle looks like the Tudor Rose. Henry Vlll was in his late 40s when he build these forts. Anne of Cleves is said to have stayed at Deal Castle after her long voyage from Europe on her way to London to meet her future husband.

Henry Vlll in 1540
Anne of Cleves - 1540s
Portrait of Anne in the 1540s by Bartholomäus Bruyn the elder

Reference: The Six Wives of Henry Vlll by Alison Weir