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Six beautiful buildings linked to Henry VIII’s six wives

By Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger 1497/8 (German)Details of artist on Google Art Project - eAHC0d0WiemXSA at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

We’re all facing a very different way of life for the next while as measures are put in place to control and hopefully eradicate the spread of coronavirus. It means we’re all staying in more but that doesn’t mean we can’t travel from our sofas. Over the coming weeks, Royal Central will bring you virtual guides to royal locations around the world, a kind of pick and mix of regal holidays that you can enjoy from your very own great indoors. Today we’re casting our eye over six pretty places associated with that titan of Tudor history, Henry VIII, and the six women brave enough to marry him.

Hever Castle

The famous childhood home of Anne Boleyn nestles in picturesque Kent countryside. Anne grew up here with her brother, George, and sister, Mary, under the guidance of their ambitious father, Thomas. It was here that the fabulous education and sharp wit and charm that would help Anne build an unrivalled political power base of her own took shape. The castle later passed to another of Henry’s wives, Anne of Cleves.

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And for when it’s all over…

Right now, Hever is still open for business but with social distancing measures in place. It’s on the Kent/ Surrey/ Sussex border and well signposted from the M25. Inside, you can tour the original 13th century buildings, the Tudor additions as well as the gardens where Anne grew up. Admission is £18.80 per adult and £10.70 per child with family and annual tickets available.

Sudeley Castle

This Cotswolds gem was the final home of Henry’s final wife, Katherine Parr. She came to live here with her last husband, Thomas Seymour, who she married just weeks after Henry’s death. Katherine’s companion at Sudeley was Lady Jane Grey and together they roamed its gardens and fields, talking of religion. Katherine died at Sudeley in September 1548, soon after the birth of her only child, Mary Seymour. She is buried at St. Mary’s Church at Sudeley, the only grave of a Queen of England on private property.

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And for when it’s all over..

You’ll find Sudeley Castle on the edge of the fabulously pretty village of Winchcombe in Gloucestershire, about twenty minutes drive from the town of Cheltenham. If you park up or stay in Winchcombe, the castle is about a fifteen minute walk from the village centre. At the castle, you can tour the rooms and gardens where Katherine Parr once walked and visit her grave in St. Mary’s Church. Admission costs £17.25 per adult and £7.95 per child with family and annual tickets also available. It is shut during the Covid-19 outbreak but will reopen again later in 2020.

Anne of Cleves House

This 15th century house in Lewes, East Sussex was part of one of the most famous divorce settlements in history. Henry gave the property to Anne of Cleves as he rushed to get rid of her in the months following their far from happy marriage in 1540. Anne never actually lived here but it formed a major part of her fortune following her divorce.

Charlesdrakew / Public domain

And for when it’s all over….

Anne of Cleves House is in Southover High Street in Lewes. It’s now owned by the Sussex Archaeological Society who have turned it into a vibrant museum showing visitors what life was like in Tudor and Elizabethan times. The kitchen is laid out exactly as it would have been in Anne’s time. It costs £6.50 per adult and £3.70 per child. It is shut during the Covid-19 outbreak but will reopen again later in 2020.

Chesworth House

Henry’s tragic fifth wife, Catherine Howard, spent part of her very dysfunctional childhood at Chesworth which sits close to Horsham in West Sussex. It was the home of the Agnes, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk who was stepmother to Catherine’s father. Agnes collected a large brood of aristocratic children around her and they spent much of their time at Chesworth. It was here that Catherine’s love of dance and socialising grew.

Dave Spicer / Chesworth House south of Horsham

And for when it’s all over….

Chesworth is privately owned and has been for many years. You can catch a glimpse of it driving through the lanes around Horsham, woody paths that Catherine might once have trod herself.

Wolf Hall

Turned into a household name by the famous novel by Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall was the family home of Jane Seymour who became Henry’s third wife in 1536. She grew up here alongside brothers Edward and Thomas who would go on to wield different kinds of power in the reign of Jane’s son, Edward VI. The original buildings are now lost although remains of the 16th century constructions have been found in the grounds of the more modern Wolf Hall which replaced it.

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And for when it’s all over…

Located in Burbage in Wiltshire, the new Wolf Hall is open for events only. Check out their Facebook page for details or take a drive through the pretty country lanes around it to catch a glimpse of the area where Henry is said to have begun to plot the end of Anne Boleyn’s power and the rise of a new Tudor family.

Kimbolton Castle

The final home of Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, Kimbolton is now home to a school. The castle has its origins in the 12th century and had been rebuilt by the time that Catherine was sent here in 1534 for refusing to acknowledge her divorce from Henry or her changed status from Queen Consort to Dowager Princess of Wales. She died here in January 1536, setting off a train of events that would end in the execution of her rival, Anne Boleyn, just months later.

Graham Taylor / CC BY-SA

And for when it’s all over

Outside of term time, Kimbolton opens for events, is a wedding venue and also runs sports courses. It’s worth checking their website once Covid-19 is past to see when you can pop by to get a taste of Tudor history.

About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.