Category Archives: Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England
Steven Russell interviewed me for today’s East Anglian Daily Times about why history is the new rock ‘n’ roll:
I wish Henham Park were my second home!
My interview with Eastern Daily Press was published on Monday 28 May. I’m pictured at Blickling Hall in Norfolk at the Blickling Boleyn Festival. Includes my top ten Tudor sites in East Anglia!
Dan Jones reviewed A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England in The Spectator a week or so ago. He starts…
‘History publishers like a gimmick, so I assumed Suzannah Lipscomb’s A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England (Ebury, £12.99) must be a cheeky rip-off of Ian Mortimer’s Time Traveller’s Guide series.’
Thankfully, he continues…
‘Not so. In fact this is a rich, meticulously plotted field guide to the surviving architectural treasures of Tudor England: the houses, fortresses, palaces and battlefields that were trodden by our most famous royal dynasty, from Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle to Kett’s Oak and Burghley House (pictured).But it is more than just historical I-Spy. Lipscomb is an eloquent tour-guide, and each of her 50 destinations allows her deftly to unfold a different chapter of Tudor history.’
Read the rest of it here.
A few days ago, I posted a guest post at Natalie Grueninger’s On the Tudor Trail website to explain why I wrote A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England and why I think people should visit historic places.
‘I am frequently asked two questions: why am I a Tudor historian? And why do I think people remain fascinated by this period? The answer is the same: the Tudor era has all the best stories.
Consider: the remarkable sixteenth century contains our tabloid king – the much married Henry VIII – and our virgin queen – the unmarried Elizabeth I – and huge religious change – the overthrow, restoration and eventual displacing of the Roman Catholic church in England; centuries-old monasteries dissolved; heretics burnt and priests tortured. It is an age of threats against England – the attempted French invasion and the Spanish Armada – and of the discovery and colonisation of new worlds, the beginnings of empire and the founding of the navy. It is the age of Holbein and Shakespeare, of glorious architecture and palaces, and of some of the most extraordinary characters in British history…’
Some images from the launch party for A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England, held at The Philip Mould Gallery in London on 14 March 2012.
Photos by John Cairns
This morning, A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England received its first review, by Mathew Lyons on the London Historians blog:
“It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I approached Suzannah Lipscomb’s latest book. Was it really necessary? Did the world need another guide book to the historic buildings of England? Would she not be forced into tiresome iterations of ‘We can imagine…’ or ‘If one closes one’s eyes one can almost hear…’ and so on.
Well, so much for my judgement: I stand corrected. A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England is not only a first-class and fascinating guide to the most important of what survives of Tudor England, it also doubles as a deceptively thorough history of the period – and indeed a fine introduction to the complexities of life in sixteenth-century England…”
Read on here.
Today, my review of Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England was published in History Today:
“Ian Mortimer has taken L.P. Hartley to heart. If ‘the past is a foreign country’, where ‘they do things differently’, Mortimer’s Time Traveller books are our historicalLonely Planets. Using the innovative approach first seen in his wildly successful The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England, Mortimer has turned his attention to the first Elizabethan age (1558-1603). By using telling details to evoke the world of the past, he writes history as people want to read it.
Mortimer’s basic conceit – time travel – is a very powerful one, allowing him to do a number of things that are rare in history books. He writes in the second person and the present tense – giving the text an immediacy – and yet encompasses the whole of Elizabeth I’s reign as if we are waiting by our DeLoreans ready to enter a date…”
Read on here.
This morning, through the magic of the BBC, I put on my headphones and talked into a rather large mic at Television Centre in London to presenters up and down the country. In three hours, I chatted to warm, friendly people in Shropshire, Leeds, Hereford & Worcester, the Solent, Derby, Devon, Cambridge, Northampton, Norfolk, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Kent, York… (almost there, deep breath) and Leicester, all about my new book, A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England. And what intelligent, interesting questions they asked! It was genuinely great fun.
For the next seven days, you can catch some of them on iPlayer e.g.
BBC Northampton, chatting with Bernie Keith here: bbc.in/xCD0li – starting at 2.38.50
BBC Leicester, chatting with Jonathan Lampon here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p002kycm – starting 49.56
(although I do appear to say ‘lucid’, as opposed to ‘lurid’ details!)
Copies of my new book have arrived with me this last week, and I’ve been absolutely thrilled to see them. The book really is a thing of beauty – the cover is so gorgeously designed that – never mind the contents – I’d buy it for the cover alone!
Here it is. Artfully depicted amidst the debris of my desk.
It comes out on 15 March 2012, but you can pre-order it on Amazon.
I submit my new book, A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England, to my publisher, Ebury on 17 October 2011 (I’ve received the cover already – isn’t it lovely?)
It has been such an enjoyable process visiting 50 Tudor houses, palaces and castles to walk in the footsteps of some of the sixteenth-century’s most famous – and infamous – characters.
The trip has taken me from Penshurst Place, the home of the Elizabethan courtier-poet Sir Philip Sidney, to Ludlow Castle, where Prince Arthur fatefully died in April 1502, and from Thornbury Castle, the half-finished fortified manor house of Edward Stafford, third duke of Buckingham, who was executed in 1521, to the oak in Wymondham at which Robert Kett is said to have gathered the Norfolk rebel armies in 1549.
I’ve seen magnificent architecture – like Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire or Montacute House in Somerset – domestic beauties – like Gawsworth and Little Moreton Halls in Cheshire – and spectacular vaulting places of worship – like St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle or Westminster Abbey. There are so many gems.
Above all, I’ve loved researching the stories. Can’t wait to see what you think of them. But meanwhile, thought I might share with you some photos of the best bits and most wonderful details over the next couple of months… watch this space.
This last week I’ve been touring the country, visiting Tudor castles, houses and abbeys, as research for my new book. It’s been absolutely splendid. In the end, I managed to visit:
- Arundel Castle, West Sussex – home to the Howard family
- Sherborne Castle, Dorset – historically home to Sir Walter Ralegh
- Sandford Orcas Manor – a little gem of a Tudor house recommended by a guide at Sherborne
- Glastonbury Tor and Abbey, Somerset
- Buckland Abbey, Devon – home to Sir Francis Drake
- Barrington Court, Somerset
- Thornbury Castle, Gloucestershire – half-built by Edward Stafford, the third Duke of Buckingham, who was executed as a traitor in 1521
- Hailes Abbey, Gloucestershire
- Little Sodbury Manor, Gloucestershire – from the outside as it’s privately owned. Where WilliamTyndale started writing his English translation of the New Testament
- Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire – chiefly interesting to me as the resting place of Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Kateryn Parr
- Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire – owned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth I’s great love
- Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire – where Mary, Queen of Scotswas imprisoned four times and the Babington plot was devised, and where I was met by the wonderful curator, Lesley Smith
- Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire – incredible house built by ‘Bess of Hardwick’, Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury
- Burghley House, Lincolnshire – Elizabethan mansion built by Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s chief minister and Lord High Treasurer. I was given a tour of the Inner Court by head guide, Carolyn Crookall.
- Peterborough Cathedral, Cambridgeshire – where Katherine of Aragon is entombed
As well as great historical stories, and moments when the past seemed almost tangible, the trip made me think anew about heritage and historic sites. More about that – and more photos – another day.
For now, I just want to say how grateful I am to everyone who helped me along the way!
En route to Lancaster, I stopped off at Pontefract Castle. Now in ruins, having been demolished in 1649, it’s a place where Henry VIII was betrayed twice: first by the Pilgrims of Grace rebels, who amassed there in 1536, and second by Catherine Howard, who entertained Thomas Culpeper there on progress in 1541. Quite the place of intrigue and ghosts.
Neither of these events are mentioned in the visitor centre, although the chap there was terribly nice to this nosy southerner.
One for my new book, A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England.
Today I went to visit the shrine at Walsingham, as part of my research for my next book. This is all that remains of the medieval shrine where kings from Henry III to Henry VIII came on pilgrimage: