What if you could drive a couple of hours, or take a train, and end up in the 16th century. One of my favorite things about living in England was the ability to hop on a train in King’s Cross, spend an hour or two reading a book, and hop off in places filled with history. Much of the Tudor London landscape was destroyed between the Great Fire and the Blitz. But outside London you can find lots of places dating from Tudor and Elizabethan times. Here are four homes that will let you visit Tudor England – no fancy particle physics involved.
Here are some great 16th century homes west of Windsor that you can visit this weekend. They’re all run by the National Trust, and you can learn more about joining the National Trust, and the other homes here: nationaltrust.org.uk
One of the abbeys that were dissolved during the Cromwell-directed Dissolution of the Monasteries, ironically Lacock Abbey, near Chippenham, was last seen as the exterior of Jane Seymour’s home in Wolf Hall. Originally founded in 1232, the cloisters date from 1236. It also has one of the oldest brew houses in the country which, and the remains of the household bakery.
Chastleton was owned by the same family until 1991, and eventually they didn’t have the money to keep up the home and turned it over to the National Trust. It was originally built in 1607, just four years after Elizabeth I’s death. It was originally built by a well off wool merchant, and after centuries of civilization seeming to forget about it, the home has become famous lately as the scene for many of the interiors in Wolf Hall.
It’s in the center of a circle with Cirencester, Stratford upon Avon, Tewkesbury, and Oxford all within an easy drive, so it makes a great stop if you’re doing a history tour anyway.
Great Chalfield Manor
About 25km from Bath, Great Chalfield Manor dates to the 1470’s when Thomas Tropenell, a wealthy landowner commissioned the home. Tropnell made his fortune as a clothier, and the home includes a medieval hall. There’s a parish church, and part of a moat that survives. Situated in the gorgeous Wiltshire countryside, it plays Cromwell’s home in Wolf Hall.
A late Elizabethan manor home in Somerset, the land had originally been part of a dissolved monastery. The monastery dated from 1078 but was dissolved in 1539. Sir Edward Phelps, whose claim to fame is making the opening statement for the Prosecution in the case against Guy Fawkes, built it. The home played Henry VIII’s palace in Wolf Hall. It’s about 30km south of Glastonbury, and was in the same family until it became part of the National Trust in 1927.