Launch party for A Visitor’s Companion

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

Museums & Heritage Awards shortlist!

Category : Blog, Fools, Hampton Court Palace · No Comments Mar 26th, 2012


‘All the King’s Fools’, the groundbreaking performances by actors with learning difficulties at Hampton Court Palace in 2011, to recreate the natural fools of Henry VIII’s court, has been shortlisted as an educational initiative by the Museums Association’s Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence 2012:

The other exciting news is that films of the performances are now available to watch on the project website, Do have a look!


A day of reviews

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.


Podcasting from The Vyne

Category : Articles, BBC History Magazine, Blog, Podcast · No Comments Mar 17th, 2012

In this week’s podcast from BBC History Magazine, Dave Musgrove, the magazine’s editor and I, took a stroll through The Vyne in Hampshire to talk about its first owner, William, Lord Sandys, and Tudor court life.

You can hear it all, and see a splendid collection of photographs from The Vyne – a real gem of a house – on the BBC History Magazine website:

or go straight to the podcast here:

The podcast accompanies an article that I wrote in this month’s BBC History Magazine called ‘Tudor courtiers: Where History Happened’.


New historian at NCH

Category : Blog, NCH · No Comments Mar 17th, 2012

I’m delighted to report that Dr Hannah Dawson will be joining us in the history faculty at New College of the Humanities. Hannah currently holds a senior lectureship at the University of Edinburgh and works on the history of ideas. She has a double first class degree in History, a MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History, and a PhD for her study of John Locke, all from the University of Cambridge.

I’m tremendously excited that Hannah is joining the team. She is a brilliant intellectual historian with a stellar pedigree, and she’s full of dynamism and verve. I know the students will love her, and we are very lucky to have her.

Me, a mic and 15 counties

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: – starting at 2.38.50


BBC Leicester, chatting with Jonathan Lampon here – – starting 49.56

(although I do appear to say ‘lucid’, as opposed to ‘lurid’ details!)

My dream dinner party guests from the past

Category : Articles, Blog, Newspapers · No Comments Mar 10th, 2012

For the Telegraph’s new history page, I was invited to consider who would be my six dream dinner party guests from history.

I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this! I tried to choose people from different historical periods, who’d have fascinating stories to tell from the past, but who’d also make good dinner companions. I wonder what you think of my final choices!

Incidentally, I love the fact that the feature is called ‘Table Talk’, after the famous collection of Luther’s candid conversations over his dinner table. And I should add: I was told that I couldn’t make the obvious choices – Jesus, Shakespeare, Nelson, Churchill,  etc. My guests had to be a bit more obscure (which was actually a wonderful challenge), but as this isn’t mentioned in an introduction, my choices probably look peculiarly arcane…

Here’s the article online: