Hidden Tudor Palaces
Discover the little-known castles and manors in the Heart of England that were visited and specially granted by the notorious Tudor king, Henry VIII
Granted to to William Willoughby, 11th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, in 1516 when he married Maria de Salinas, lady-in-waiting to Henry’s queen at the time, Catherine of Aragon. By Henry’s 1541 royal progress visit, the house was in the hands of their daughter, Catherine Willoughby and her much older husband (and previous ward), Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, who had been Henry’s brother-in-law. The couple went to great expense to extend the house for the visit by Henry and his fifth wife Catherine Howard, using limestone from the nearby Abbey of Vaudey, which had been dissolved in 1536.
Henry granted the Norman fortress of Rockingham Castle in Leicestershire, which had fallen into disrepair, to Edward Watson, a local landowner in 1530. Edward, ancestor of the current owner, transformed Rockingham into a comfortable Tudor house, although it was later changed again into a Victorian mansion.
Overlooking the River Wye outside the Derbyshire town of Bakewell, Haddon Hall is one of the finest medieval manor houses and is rightly considered one of the most romantic Tudor houses in Britain. Such is its period appeal that it has provided backdrops in no fewer than three screen versions of Jane Eyre, as well as films Elizabeth, Pride & Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl and The Princess Bride.
Packwood House in Warwickshire, was formerly a modest Tudor manor house, which has evolved through its Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian ownerships. It was restored to its Tudor glory in the first half of the 20th century by owner Baron Ash. The painstaking project included converting a large cow barn into a Tudor-style Great Hall with a sprung floor for dancing, which was linked to the main house by a Long Gallery whose walls were adorned with giant tapestries.
The well-preserved house of Baddesley Clinton is nothing short of an architectural gem. Home to the Ferrers family for 500 years, it is now in the hands of the National Trust and includes a moat, bridge and crenelated gatehouse entrance.
Wollaton Hall is an Elizabethan mansion, built in the 1580s by the great grandson of one of the richest men in England, Sir Francis Willoughby, who commissioned Robert Smythson, the architect behind the magnificent Longleat in Wiltshire, to create an ambitious country house that would leave visitors in no doubt as to the extent of his wealth.
For the full feature on hidden Tudor palaces, see the May/June 2017 (July 2017 in the US and Canada) issue of BRITAIN
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