Thursday, October 09, 2008

Questions from Daniel - Surviving palaces, etc.

1)Is there any origanal portraits of henry v111 or anne boleyn on dispaly anywhere?

2)Is there any other surviving tudor palaces apart from hampton court and st james palace,And other buildings that henry v111 built or stayed?

3)Where did henry v111 live?

4)And ive always wondered, what has happend to all of henrys v111 outfits he worn in all of his portraits? Same with anne boleyn,Jane seymour Etc.Would they be on display anywhere?

5)Did tudors celebrate new years,Birthdays Etc?

6)What did they do to wash themselves ie hair,Teeth and general hygene did they just use water alone?

[ed note - yeah, I know I'm breaking my rule of too many different questions in one post, but I'm too busy to break them into separate posts right now]


Anonymous said...

1) Portraits: There are several of Henry VIII, many shown on this site ( Perhaps the most reliable is the pencil sketch (called a Cartoon) made in preparation for the lost Whitehall Mural by Hans Holbein. The partial remnant of the sketch is on display at the National Portrait Gallery. (
I might caution that many of the portraits of Henry VIII attributed to Holbein on various websites are in fact later copies made of a lost Holbein original.

2) Other Tudor palaces that Henry built or stayed in: Many, and I think this question has been addressed before. He built St James's Palace, Nonesuch Palace, and Bridewell Palace, and built part of Whitehall Palace. He lived in each of those, as well as in Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, Richmond Palace, Greenwich Palace, and others. The list of palaces and castles he stayed in or visited is very long.

3) Where did Henry live? He moved about frequently, as did most wealthy people, so that palaces and castles could be cleaned and aired out after the royal household and court had messed them up. The list includes but is not limited to: Greenwich Palace, Nonesuch Palace, Richmond Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle, the Palace of Whitehall, St James's Palace, and others.

4) Clothing from the 16th century seldom survives. Much like modern clothing, it gets worn out and falls apart over the years ... especially after more than 450 years! I am not aware of any genuine article of clothing worn by the people you named that has survived (other than Henry's armor), though some of Elizabeth's items, including boots and gloves, have survived.

5) Yes. New Year's Day was traditonally the day on which presents were exchanged, not Christmas. Birthdays seem not to have been celebrated by most people, at least not with exchanges of presents and parties and such.

6) Personal hygiene was primitive in the Tudor period. Most people seldom bathed, though the wealthy might bathe once a week or month. There were primitive toothbrushes, but they were a luxury item. Soap did exist, but it was caustic (it could damage skin). Hair brushes and combs existed and were used, but hair was not washed frequently. In short, it was a dirty, smelly world.

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel, I can't begin to answer all of these questions, but I'll throw out a few items you might be interested in.

1. As for portraits, I'm sorry you seem to have missed the Holbein exhibit at the Tate Britain in London in 2006. It was wonderful with genuine Holbein portraits of Henry. Portraits of Anne are a bit more problematic. I'll let somebody with more knowledge of that answer it. But the Holbeins of Henry do exist and are in various museums and at various estates in Europe.

2. There's a fair amount of defensive fortifications that Henry built along the coast still in existence, though they have outlived their usefulness. If you can find it, check out a book called What's Left of Henry VIII by Deborah Jaffe. It lists a lot of places associated with Henry. As for places he stayed at, if you are going to be in London, check out The Tower of London which used to be a palace more than a fortress. There are also a few odds and ends left of Whitehall from Henry's day. And if you can make it to Portsmouth, Henry was standing on the battlements of Southsea Castle watching when the Mary Rose sank. Also, this may be a bit out of the way, but if you can get to Gloucestershire, stop by Thornbury Castle. It originally belonged to the Duke of Buckingham, but reverted to Henry on Buckingham's execution. It's a hotel now, and you can stay in the same room Henry and Anne Boleyn did when they were there.

3. Short answer -- everywhere and nowhere. He didn't have a permanent home, but moved constantly with the court between various palaces large enough to house them, mostly Greenwich, Whitehall, Richmond, Windsor, and later Hampton Court. In the summer, he generally went on a progress to various manors in the country where he was mainly interested in how good the hunting was in the area. He also had several hunting lodges that he stayed at periodically.

4. The clothes that Henry and all the Tudors owned and wore were extremely expensive and when the owner was finished with them, they were generally recycled and then recycled over and over again until there was really almost nothing left. I don't know of any clothes belonging to Henry or anybody else in the Tudor era that survived intact down to the present day. (I'd love to hear where they are if there are any -- especially Cloth of Gold!!!) There are some items of clothing from that era in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of London. The only example of I know of Cloth of Gold that I mentioned above is in the binding of a gift book from Elizabeth to her stepmother, Katherine Parr, which I believe is in the British Museum.

5. New Year's was a major holiday, the one where gifts were exchanged. I've never heard of them celebrating birthdays though. I would love to see some documentation on this if there is any.....

6. I know they did bathe, though not as frequently as in modern times. I'm not sure what exactly they used other than hot water. I hope there is some information out there and somebody can tell us. As for teeth, it was the custom to use a pick of some sort to clean ones teeth after eating. This probably had limited success, but I do know that Henry VIII's sister Mary, who is buried in St. Mary's Church in Bury St. Edmund, Suffolk, has been exhumed a couple of times since her death (because of construction in the church). They did examine her body the first time about 200 years after her death, and found she had a full set of perfect teeth. That was probably a rarity from the time, but does show that tooth care was possible.

Anonymous said...

Clothing...during an exhibition at The Tower featuring those who had a personal meeting with the axe, a scarf was placed on display. The placard stated that this scarf had been embroidered by Anne Boleyn. Don't know where it is originally kept, however.

Hever Castle has a set of baby clothes which were made by Princess Elizabeth for "Bloody" Mary. At the time, it wasn't known that Mary was experiencing either a phantom pregnancy, or the beginnings of a fatal illness.

Talk about recycling clothes...Anne of Denmark, James VI/I queen, used a great deal of Elizabeth I's clothes to make costumes for her beloved masques!


Bearded Lady said...

Wheeew that’s a lot of questions :)I can help you out with the bathing end because I am working on the history of hygiene for my next book proposal (wish me luck!).

Henry VIII
Henry VIII bathed at Hampton Court with actual heated water pumped in from a stove in the adjoining room. To ease the pain in his sore leg, he also sometimes soaked in a mixture of herbs, musk and civet . (A civet is a small carnivorous cat that supposedly gives off a very distinctive musk. ) This was done for more medicinal reasons and less for hygienic reason.

Elizabeth I
Rumors abound that Elizabeth professed that she bathed once a month, “whether she needed it or not.” But given Elizabeth's keen sense of smell and her access to the sunken bath that her father built, I suspect she bathed far more often.

Others feel free to challenge me on this one….

Elizabethans sometimes used urine to give their pearly whites that extra SPARKLE. For some odd reason, Spanish urine was deemed the gold standard (bad pun).

Elizabeth did clean her teeth with tooth picks. (I think some have survived?) And as you might already know, Elizabeth had quite the sweet tooth which caused some of her teeth to turn black and fall out. She stuffed her missing teeth with bits of cotton. (I am guessing this fooled no one). Elizabeth’s tooth decay started a beauty trend to possess beautiful black teeth because only the very wealthy could afford sweets.

Elizabeth also owned a ear pick to clean her ears.

You can read more about what I have uncovered so far at:

All sources are listed at the bottom

Anonymous said...

I can perhaps help a bit on the hygiene section as well. Thanks mainly to Hollywood, the media and some historical novels, we do have a warped perception of this time as being filthy, stinking etc etc; but in fact it wasn't really. Yes, if one of us was transported back, we would probably find it rather smelly by our standards, but the reverse also would be true; smell perception is what you are used to! Because the Tudors believed that most ills and diseases were caused by foul air and dirt they did their best to keep themselves, their houses, clothes etc as clean as possible to limit the chance of disease. You just need to look at the household accounts that survive from the time to see the expenditure on such things as soap, starch, brushes and wages for laundresses! What is difficult to discover is how often! Yes, the very wealthy had early forms of bathroom, but ordinary people did not have access to such luxuries. To take a bath would have involved a tremendous expenditure of time and labour in heating and carrying water, and most would not have had a large enough tub to sit in! But they did believe in keeping the body as clean as possible, and would regularly wash themselves all over using just a bowl or basin of water. They often would bathe in ponds or streams in summer - probably to cool down on a hot day of work, but it would have cleansed them as well. People certainly cleansed themselves of visible dirt, and there is plenty of evidence that hands were washed both before sitting down to eat, and after eating. They had numerous types of soap, from the very caustic types mentioned by phdhistorian, which were not used on the body, to wash balls of "Castill soap" scented with herbs such as lavender for use on the body. (See "The Tudor Housewife" by Alison Sim). With reference to hair washing, it would be done bending over a basin; and hair was groomed - refernces to combs and dressing of hair - but remember also that hair tends to stay cleaner much longer in an unpolluted enviroment; and whilst the Tudor enviroment was not unpolluted as such, hair would have stayed cleaner longer. For anyone interested, there is a small booklet called "Did they wash in those days; Personal Hygiene, Cleanliness and Washing 14th - 17th centuries" by Jane Huggett, published by the Stuart Press. This is one of a series of small A5 booklets relating to the period 1580-1660, and much of what I have given you comes from there - though there is an awful lot more detail etc in the booklet!! I don't know how easy they would be to get hold of in America, but you could try writing to them for a list of available titles: the Stuart Press is the publishing division of Historical Management Associates Ltd, 117 Farleigh Road, Backwell, Bristol BS48 3PG, UK. If anyone wants more info. please feel free to email me, I will do what I can to help. Sorry this is so long Lara!

Anonymous said...

The only item of Henry VIII to survive is his hat and it is on display in "The Bishop Palace Museum", Waterford, Ireland