Sunday, July 11, 2010

Question from Nella - Tudor sites to visit in Suffolk

this seems to be a very good site to ask my question.
I will go to England in the summer (I'm from Italy)and want to know which places you would recommend me the most. I have never been to England before but I am deeply interested in the Tudors (especially Henry VIII and his sisters).
I'll spend most of my time arouns Ipswich/Suffolk. Are there any good Tudor places nearby?
Thank you very much!


Kathy said...

Ah, a question right up my alley!

I went to Suffolk a few years ago expressly to track down sites associated with Mary Tudor Brandon. I wrote a trip report about it, complete with a few pictures. Day 2 was the day I spent in Suffolk at Bury St. Edmund and Westhorpe. In BSE, check out the abbey ruins and St. Mary's Church, which is just a short block south, right on the abbey property boundary. That is where they reburied Mary during the dissolution of the monasteries. Mary's tomb is near the altar and be sure to see the beautiful window on the south side of the church. It was commissioned by Queen Victoria and covers all the main events of Mary's life. Also in BSE is Moyse's Hall Museum which has a lock of Mary's hair on display. (There was some work being done a few years ago to see if they could get mitochondrial dna from the hair. I don't know what the current state of that project is, but you might want to call ahead just to make sure the hair is still on display.) Moyse's Hall isn't that far from the abbey ruins, but it's an uphill trek the entire way, so I wouldn't recommend walking it unless you are very fit and have lots of time. The museum is on the north side of the market square.

At Westhorpe, there is little left of the original manor that Charles had built (or at least rebuilt and refurbished for Mary) The moat and the bridge pilings still exist from that time though, so you can see the exact area where the manor was. There's a nursing home on the premises now, but they don't seem to mind people wandering around as long as you don't disturb anybody. If you, or anybody, would like further directions to this, just let me know and I'll try to be more detailed. Also Steven Gunn has an article on Westhorpe in an academic journal. I can't lay my hands on the citation at the moment, but will look it up if you would like to try to find it before you go there. It details pretty thoroughly exactly what is left there and discusses what he thinks the manor looked like back in the day.

Also in the village at Westhorpe is the local church Charles and Mary worshipped at, St. Margaret's. This is a simple but exquisite small country church that is very much as it was in Tudor times. The rumor is that Mary's heart was buried in the graveyard there. I haven't been able to track down any documentation on that though.

There is another site I wish I had been able to get to but I didn't have the time, that is Butley Priory. It was a monastery in the 16th century. Mary and Charles spent a lot of time as guests here, especially in the summer. All that is left now is the gatehouse, which is a B&B. Check out thehistory of the place for more information about their time there. (Just ignore the fact that the picture they put up is of Margaret, not Mary.)

If there is anything else you'd like to know, ask Lara to give you my email addy and I'll try to help as much as I can. And be sure and let us know about your trip when you get back! I very much envy you and would love to go back to Suffolk.

Marilyn R said...

Kentwell Hall in the village of Long Melford is a typical Tudor moated manor house. It was bought 40 years ago by a young couple who have spent their lives saving it from ruin and now it is a great tourist attraction which also has open-air theatre and concerts in the grounds (

Long Melford village is a lovely place with another famous house, Melford Hall, where Elizabeth I once stayed. The village was very prosperous because of the wool trade and the church is enormous with a stained glass portrait of Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey, the grandmother of Henry VIII’s wives Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard.

Framlingham Castle has connections with the Dukes of Norfolk and later belonged to Henry’s daughter Princess Mary; it was from here that she set off for London after his death. Henry’s son, Henry Fitzroy is buried in the church.

Ipswich also is an interesting place; Cardinal Wolsey was born there.

Hope you have a great time.

Katie said...

I can highly recommend Kathy's trip report - very interesting and informative :-)!

I agree Marilyn, Framlingham castle is worth visiting. I was told it had some good events during August.

I am planning a trip to Suffolk, too. If you want to I can give you my notes of the the scheduled itinerary.

Have a good time, Nella - I can't wait to go there myself!