The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society
  • Throwback Thursday – Professional Tudor Musicians

    For today’s Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d highlight this wonderful expert talk from Jane Moulder from back in 2015. Jane is not only incredibly knowledgeable about the music and musicians of the period, but she is also a member of the wonderful Renaissance group Piva.

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  • Escape from Lumley Castle!

    I’ve just received this news regarding Lumley Castle, a 14th-century castle, now hotel, in County Durham, in the North of England. Here’s the press release:

    The legend surrounding a 630-year-old North East castle is to be brought vividly to life, giving amateur detectives the chance to solve a mystery in a UK first.

    Lumley Castle Hotel, near Chester-le-Street, County Durham, has announced plans to create the country’s first escape room within a historic property. The 73-room castle has joined forces with the highly acclaimed Escape Rooms Durham, which already runs two games within the city centre, Mr Borrowdale’s Study and Lab Heist. And the organisation has created a unique new escape room challenge, based on the tragic story of Lily of Lumley, who, in the 14th century, was reputedly thrown down a well by Catholic priests for renouncing her faith. Lily is said to haunt the castle and there have been many supposed sightings of her ghost over the years – but now everyone who visits Lumley will get the opportunity to come face to face with the tragic heroine.

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  • Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford

    Lady Katherine Grey was born as the second surviving daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his wife, Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk. Born at Bradgate Park in Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire, Katherine was the offspring of an aspiring and preeminent Tudor family with ambitions at the royal court. Katherine’s maternal grandparents were Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and Mary Tudor, the youngest surviving sister of King Henry VIII; this gave Katherine, and her two siblings, Jane and Mary, a claim to the English throne through their grandmother. Known popularly as the younger sister of Lady Jane Grey, the tragic young queen who was sentenced to death by the Catholic Queen Mary I, Katherine has become a fashionable topic of discussion in the academic and popular history world. Historians such as Leanda de Lisle have revaluated her life to reveal an equally as resilient and tragic figure to her sister Jane; indeed, Lady Katherine’s short life witnessed a number of tumultuous and unexpected events. This article intends to put forward a condensed examination of her life, which will include: her marriage, imprisonment, claim to the throne and downfall.

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  • This week in history 10 – 16 December

    10th December:

    1541 – Thomas Culpeper, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, and Francis Dereham, a member of Queen Catherine Howard’s household, were executed at Tyburn. Culpeper and Dereham were tried on 1st December 1541 at the Guildhall, and convicted of treason. Both were executed on 10th December 1541, but Culpeper was beheaded while Dereham had to face the brutal traitor’s death of being hanged, drawn and quartered. Culpeper was buried at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate (Holborn).
    1591 – Executions of Edmund Gennings, Roman Catholic priest, and Swithin Wells, Roman Catholic, on a scaffold set up outside Wells’ house at Holborn. They were hanged, drawn and quartered for treason due to their Catholic faith and for celebrating the mass.

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  • Don’t miss Kate Cole’s “The Witches of Elizabethan and Stuart Essex” talk!

    Everybody’s heard of the Pendle Witches, but historian Kate Cole feels there are far more interesting witches from Elizabethan and Stuart Essex. We hope you enjoy Kate’s fascinating talk.

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  • General Tudor History Quiz

    Every Sunday we have a bit of Tudor history fun. Sometimes it’s a crossword puzzle or wordsearch, and other times it’s a quiz. Today it’s quiz. So, grab yourself a snack and your favourite beverage, make yourself comfortable, and let’s get those little grey cells working!

    Good luck!

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  • Have you read this month’s magazine?

    The December issue of Tudor Life Magazine which is produced by the Tudor Society and edited by historian and author Gareth Russell is a wonderful read. Its theme is the Cecil family, but it also has a Christmas section.

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  • Happy birthday Mary, Queen of Scots!

    Today is the anniversary of the birth of Mary, Queen of Scots, on 8th December 1542. She was the daughter of James V of Scotland and his second wife, Marie de Guise, and the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister) and James IV of Scotland.

    One of the mottos associated with Mary, Queen of Scots, is “En ma Fin gît mon Commencement” , or “In my End is my Beginning”, and she is more famous for her brutal end at the hands of the axeman on 8th February 1587.

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  • Open Weekend Day 2 – We hope you’re enjoying it!

    The open weekend kicked off brilliantly yesterday with lots of registrants visiting the site and diving into the archives. We hope you thoroughly enjoyed having a good look around.

    Yesterday, we added our usual Friday video talk to the site. This week, Philippa Brewell, our raving reporter, gave us a virtual tour of the beautiful ruins of Wenlock Priory. It really is a stunning place.

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  • 3 Expert Answers from our Archives

    As part of our Tudor Society open weekend I'd like to share three expert answers from our archives with you. Tudor Society members can submit questions and have them answered by Tudor experts. You can find more in our archives.

    Elizabeth I arriving at Nonsuch

    Thank you so much to Tudor Society member Nancy for asking this question: "If the queen had to make a potty stop between residences, how would that be accomplished? Does anyone know?"

    Social historian and re-enactor Bess Chilver has answered Nancy's question, taking into account what a king would do as well. Over to Bess...

    Very interesting question. Our perception of a Royal, even now in these times of minimal deference, is that of a figure, remote and almost not human. Or at least, not subject to the usual human frailties and bodily functions.

    However, even a King or a Queen needs to use the (Royal) Potty sometimes, so where did they use it?


    Catherine of Aragon

    Thank you to Tudor Society member Angela for asking the question "Should Ferdinand of Aragon have insisted on Katherine's return when Prince Arthur died?". Historian Amy Licence, who is the author of Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII's True Wife has answered Angela's question...

    This is a complex question, because Katherine's position in England fluctuated during the period of her widowhood between 1502 and 1509. Also, we have to consider the dual impulses in Ferdinand, as a father on one hand, and as a monarch on the other, playing on the international stage, on which all his children were pawns for the furtherment of the Spanish Empire. Out of Katherine’s parents, it was Isabella of Castile who played a more active role in terms of writing to Henry VII before and after her daughter’s wedding, so she was really the commanding figure of the pair until her death in 1505. We must be careful too, with the word “should,” because it is suggestive of hindsight. We know what an awful time Katherine was to have during her widowhood and later, at the hands of Henry VIII, but back then they didn’t know how things would turn out.


    Thank you to Ana for asking "Why did Henry VIII get so fat? Was he really obese because he ate too much? Or because he was ill?". Here is Kyra Kramer's answer:

    Henry was a man of large appetites, in so many ways. Until he was in his late 30s, he was an Adonis and Olympic-level athlete, and he ate to match the calorific needs of his muscular, 6'2" body. Like many athletes, he continued to eat this way even when middle age slowed down his metabolism, meaning that while he still rode and jousted as much as ever, he was getting a bit thick in the middle. We've all, I believe, seen this happen to formerly strapping men. They call it the "dad jeans" phase in America; when men start wearing jeans a little bigger, a little looser, and with a little more room in the backside. They are by no means obese, but they are no longer the ab-showing gods of their youth.

    That was the stage Henry was in when he had his terrible jousting accident in January of 1536. After the accident, he never jousted again. His legs had become too weak (either from the osteomyelitis-related ulcers or from McLeod's syndrome) to hold himself into the saddle when a lance struck him. However, he did still ride long hours almost every day in hunting, and while he remained an equestrian, his girth remained in check. Sadly for the king, the ulcers on his legs began to be too painful to ride or to even move around easily. In a relatively short time period Henry changed from a sportsman to a near-invalid.


  • Expert Talk – Gareth Russell – Catherine Howard: Personality and Private Life

    To celebrate our Tudor Society open weekend, we have a special bonus expert talk this month from historian Gareth Russell, author of “Young and Damned and Fair: The Life and Tragedy of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII”.

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  • Wenlock Priory – Philippa, roving reporter

    In this week’s Friday video talk, Philippa Lacey Brewell, the Tudor Society roving reporter, takes us around the beautiful ruins of Wenlock Priory in Much Wenlock, Shropshire.

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  • How Charles VIII, King of France, met Anne of Brittany – Rozsa Gaston

    On Dec. 6, 1491, Anne of Brittany married Charles VIII, King of France, in a secret ceremony at Langeais in France’s Loire Valley. Both were betrothed to others. Rozsa Gaston is our expert speaker for February but she wanted to share a short radio interview that she recently did…

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  • Throwback Thursday – Our Tudor Society e-book series

    There is so much on the Tudor Society site now – 4 years of archives, phew! – so you may not have noticed our Tudor Society e-book series.

    We have an e-book on each of the Tudor monarchs, plus one on The Spanish Armada of 1588 and another on Tudor Feast Days. They’re available in several different formats and can be read on your e-reader, device or computer.

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  • 6 December – The Feast of St Nicholas and the Boy Bishop

    The 6th December was and is the feast of St Nicholas, or St Nicholas of Myra, the 4th century Bishop of Myra (modern-day Demre in Turkey), who is the patron saint of children, as well as sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, brewers, pawnbrokers and students.

    In medieval and Tudor times, it was traditional for a choirboy to be chosen on 6th December or Childermas (Holy Innocents’ Day) as “Boy Bishop” to act as bishop and to lead processions around communities, collecting money for the church and parish funds, and to lead some religious services.

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  • Open Weekend Schedule 7-9 December

    This coming weekend is our Tudor Society open weekend!

    From 7th to 9th December, those who register - register at will be able to use the site just as they are full-access members of the Tudor Society. It's a wonderful opportunity for Tudor history lovers to see what we're all about.

    Simply use the categories on the top menu bar or in the side menu to explore. There will also be new Tudor treats going live on the website that weekend too and I just wanted to give members and registrants a heads-up so you know what’s coming. Don’t worry, if you're an open weekend registrant you will be sent details of how to log-in beforehand so that you can access the following treats and links to them.

    Note: You will be able to access the links and treats between 7th and 9th after you have logged in.

    7 December

    Philippa’s Roving Report goes live – Every Friday, we have a video talk go live on the Tudor Society website, usually a Claire Chats video on a Tudor topic, but this week it’s a virtual tour of an historic property from our roving reporter, Philippa Lacey Brewell.

    Bonus Expert Talk – To celebrate our open weekend, we have a special bonus talk from historian Gareth Russell, author of Young and Damned and Fair: The Life and Tragedy of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII. Gareth’s talk is on Catherine and I just know you’ll enjoy it. This talk goes live on the site on 7 December.

    8 December

    Live chat – Gareth Russell will be joining us in the Tudor Society chatroom on Saturday 8th December to answer your questions on Catherine Howard, his book and his research. Feel free to grill him. The chatroom can be found at

    Here are the times of the chat in different time zones:

    • London, UK - Saturday 8th December at 11pm
    • Madrid, Spain - Sunday 9th December at 12am
    • New York, USA - Saturday 8th December at 6pm
    • Los Angeles, USA - Saturday 8th December at 3pm
    • Sydney, Australia - Sunday 9th December at 10am
    • Adelaide, Australia - Sunday 9th December at 9.30am

    All you have to do is log-in, enter the chatroom and then you can participate as much as you like, whether you feel happier lurking and reading other people’s questions and Gareth’s answers, or whether you want to dive in and ask questions or comment on people’s views. You simply enter your question in the text box and hit “send” or Return. These chats are always fun and interesting.

    If you are unable to come to the chat, you can always log-in later and have a read through the chat to see the questions and Gareth’s answers. We also publish transcripts of each expert live chat for our members.

    Expert Answers – Tudor Society members are able to put questions forward to be answered by Tudor history experts. We’ve had some very interesting questions and we’ll be highlighting three of these today.

    9 December

    Sunday is quiz time. Each Sunday we publish a Tudor history themed quiz, crossword puzzle or wordsearch for members to enjoy. Look out for this Sunday’s quiz!

    More to enjoy

    Each month, we invite a historian or author to give an expert talk to our members. These talks are recorded on video and published on the site on the first of the month. We then invite the speaker into the Tudor Society chatroom later on in the month to answer members’ questions. Our expert speaker for December is historian Kate Cole who is speaking to us about Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart Essex, a fascinating subject. You can view her video talk at

    We also have an informal chat each month in the chatroom. We discuss a different topic each month. It’s lovely to talk Tudor!

    The Tudor Society produces a Tudor history focused magazine each month, Tudor Life Magazine. You can read the December edition, which has the Cecil family as its theme, but also has a special Christmas section, at

    The open weekend is your chance to explore the Tudor Society. There is so much on the site, from our regular Claire Chats video talks to our Tudor Society E-book series, from primary sources to bios of Tudor people... Enjoy over 4 years of archives! Browse by using the top menu bar.

    I do hope you enjoy using the Tudor Society this weekend!

  • Lady Anne Bacon (née Cooke) 1527/8-1610

    Anne Cooke was born the second daughter (and sixth child) of Anthony Cooke; noted tutor to King Edward VI. As the patriarch of the Cooke household, Anthony was renowned for his progressive attitude towards female education. Befitting his position, Cooke earned a distinguished reputation as England’s pre-eminent humanist scholar, alongside figures such as Sir Thomas More. Similarly, he chose to train his daughters in the same classical curriculum that he offered his four sons. (The family had four sons and five daughters) Contemporary academics, such as Dr Katherine Mair, argue that the Cooke sons have failed to remain relevant in twenty-first century historiography, in contrast to the impeccably educated Cooke daughters; women noted for their erudition and learnedness. Anne and her sisters excelled academically, in similarity to Thomas More’s daughter, Margaret, and shared a variety of scholarly interests. These included: Latin, Greek and translations. The women effectively violated the expected standards of sixteenth-century femininity by engaging in independent religious debate and writing. In terms of this article, it will intend to discuss several themes regarding Anne’s life, including her epistolary pursuits, religion, and general life.

    [Read More...]
  • This week in history 3 – 9 December

    3rd December:

    1536 – A proclamation was made to the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace offering them a pardon. The rebellion dispersed, but was followed by another rebellion, Bigod’s Rebellion, in early 1537. Click here to read more.
    1577 – Death or burial of William Downham, Bishop of Chester and former
    Chaplain of Elizabeth I before her accession. He was buried in the choir of Chester Cathedral.
    1600 – Death of Roger North, 2nd Baron North, peer and politician in Elizabeth I’s reign, at his London home in Charterhouse Square. He was given a funeral service at St Paul’s, followed by a burial at Kirtling in Cambridgeshire. North was a friend of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and served Elizabeth I as Privy Councillor and Treasurer of the Household.

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  • Katherine Parr Quiz

    This Sunday’s brain-stretcher is a quiz on the life of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife. How much do you know about this fascinating Tudor lady? Grab your favourite drink and snack, make yourself comfy, and let’s begin… Good luck!

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  • Expert Talk – The Witches of Elizabethan and Stuart Essex – Kate Cole

    This month’s talk is by the fascinating Kate Cole on her favourite topic, the witches of Elizabethan and Stuart Essex. We’ll be joining Kate in the chatroom in early January, but until then … enjoy this talk!

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  • Travel and transport in Tudor times – Part 2

    In this week’s Claire Chats video talk, I conclude my look at Tudor travel and transport by examining how Tudor people travelled by water.

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  • December 2018 Tudor Life Taster

    This month in Tudor Life Magazine, we have another of our dynasty features - this time we focus on the Cecils. Of course, no December magazine would be any good without a Christmas section packed with Tudor fun, games and even recipes. It's a fun one that all members can enjoy!

    This magazine has lots of articles for ALL members to enjoy. Why not JOIN TODAY? Articles in this magazine include:

    • The Cecils and Robert Devereux, the 2nd Earl of Essex by Sarah-Beth Watkins
    • All about Elizabethan Spies an interview with Loretta Goldberg
    • The Cecils by Gareth Russell
    • Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, The Great Cecil’s Son-in-Law by Lauren Browne
    • ‘Elizabeth’ - the film by Roland Hui
    • Tudor Life Editor’s Book Picks - Top books on the Cecils
    • William Cecil or Robert Dudley Quiz by Catherine Brooks
    • Member Spotlight: Bill Wolff visits the Franses Gallery
    • Claire's Christmas Recipes by Claire Ridgway
    • Spot the difference in these Henry VIII Portraits
    • Tudor Games by Claire Ridgway
    • Henry VIII vs. Francis I chess game by Tim Ridgway
    • The Witches of Elizabethan and Stuart Essex - Kate Cole is our expert speaker for December
    • Pustules, Pestilence and Pain & The Queen and the Heretic book reviews by Charlie Fenton
    • From the Spicery: Sweet Nothings by Rioghnach O’Geraghty
    • Tudor Entertainments - Part 2 by Toni Mount
    • December’s “On this Day” by Claire Ridgway

    You can become a member and enjoy the magazine along with monthly expert talks, live chats, exclusive videos, resources, articles and more - click here. Tudor Life magazine is available as a monthly digital download and also as a paper quarterly.

    Click on the magazine to open up the taster right now...

  • Tudor Society Open Weekend: 7-9 December 2018

    They say that time flies when you’re having fun and I can’t quite believe that it’s been over four years now since we started the Tudor Society. I enjoy every minute of running it! I’m glad to be able to play a part bringing Tudor history to people all over the world, connecting historians and authors to Tudor history lovers, and creating a community of Tudor history lovers. Thank YOU for being a part of this.

    We want all Tudor history lovers to hear about the Tudor Society and we’d like for them to get to know what we do, so we’ve decided to have an “open weekend” – three days of allowing people to have a bit of a browse of the site and to learn more about the Tudor Society. Perhaps you have friends or family that woukld like to register for the open day. It is completely free, they just need to sign up at to register so that they can be given a log-in for that weekend.

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  • Upcoming Live Chats and Christmas Party – 8th and 15th December, and 4th January

    Just to let you know the details of this month’s live chats, including our Christmas party, and a chat in early January. Our expert speaker for December is historian Kate Cole who is talking to us about witches in Elizabethan and Stuart Essex, a fascinating topic. As the lead-up to Christmas can be rather busy, Kate will be answering your questions in a live chat session on 4th January 2019. That gives you plenty of time to view her video, which goes live on the site on 1st December.

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  • December 2018 – Tudor Life – The Cecils

    This month in Tudor Life Magazine, we have another of our dynasty features – this time we focus on the Cecils. Of course, no December magazine would be any good without a Christmas section packed with Tudor fun, games and even recipes. It’s a fun one, so do enjoy!

    [Read More...]
  • Throwback Thursday – Cardinal Thomas Wolsey

    As today is the anniversary of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s death on 29th November 1530, I thought today’s “Throwback Thursday” treat could be Conor Byrne’s article on the life of Wolsey…

    Thomas Wolsey was born between 1470 and 1473 in Ipswich, Suffolk. He was the son of Robert and Joan Wolsey. Robert owned a tavern in the parish of St. Mary at the Elms in Ipswich. Traditionally, Wolsey’s father has been identified as a butcher and cattle dealer. Thomas Wolsey’s humble origins proved a source of mirth to his critics during his long career. During his childhood and adolescence, Wolsey attended school in Ipswich and later studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating with BA in 1486 when he was about fifteen years old. A decade later, he was ordained as a priest in the parish church of St. Peter in Marlborough. The year before, he graduated with MA. For a short period, Wolsey served as master of Magdalen School and, later, as dean of divinity.

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  • Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick c.1530-1590

    Ambrose Dudley was born the fourth son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and his wife, Lady Jane Guildford. Ambrose came from an exceptionally large family; he had twelve siblings. The family were renowned for their Protestant zeal: Ambrose’s sister, the Countess of Huntingdon, promoted her Protestantism by opening a school in the north of England for young gentry women. Among her pupils was Lady Margaret Hoby, a noted diarist whose pious daily accounts survive to this day. Much of her diary reflected her strict, daily, religious observances, with little information regarding her personal life. Similarly, Ambrose’s father was a prominent reformer during the reign of Edward VI. He was ultimately executed for his involvement with promoting Lady Jane Grey as queen through lobbying the ailing king Edward VI for support; in violation of the former king Henry VIII’s decreed will.

    [Read More...]
  • This week in history 26 November – 2 December

    26th November:

    1533 – Henry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond and Somerset, married Lady Mary Howard at Hampton Court Palace. Fitzroy was the illegitimate son of Henry VIII by his mistress Elizabeth (Bessie Blount) and Mary was the daughter of Thomas Howard, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and the cousin of Anne Boleyn.
    1542 (26th or 27th November) – Death of Robert Radcliffe, 1st Earl of Sussex, courtier, soldier and Lord Great Chamberlain of England. He was buried at St Laurence Pountney Church in London, but then moved to Boreham in Essex. Radcliffe was made Lord Great Chamberlain of England for life on 3rd May 1540 for his loyal service to Henry VIII.
    1546 – Baptism of Sir Giles Fletcher the Elder, diplomat, member of Parliament and author, in Watford, Hertfordshire. Fletcher was the son of Richard Fletcher, Church of England clergyman, and his wife, Joan. Fletcher is known for his poetical work, “Licia” (1593), but his other works included the Latin pastorals Poemata varii argumenti, the poem De literis antiquae Britanniae and the account of his travels as diplomat, “Of the Russe Common Wealth. Or, Maner of gouernement of the Russe emperour, (commonly called the Emperour of Moskouia) with the manners, and fashions of the people of that countrey”. He was the father of the poet Sir Giles Fletcher the Younger.
    1585 – Executions of Hugh Taylor, Catholic priest, and his friend Marmaduke Bowes at York. They were both hanged, and were the first men executed under the 1585 statute which made it treason to be a Jesuit or seminary priest in England, or to harbour such a priest. Both men were beatified in 1987.
    1612 – Death of Sir Thomas Walmsley, Judge and Justice of the Common Pleas, at his home at Dunkenhalgh in Lancashire. He was buried at Blackburn.

    [Read More...]
  • November Tudor Events Crossword

    This week’s Sunday brainstretcher is a crossword puzzle on events that happened in the month of November in Tudor times – coronations, deaths, executions, marriages, speeches…. So, print out the puzzle by clicking on the link or image, grab yourself your favourite snack and drink, make yourself comfortable, and let’s go! Good luck!

    [Read More...]
  • Travel and transport in Tudor times – Part 1

    In this week’s Claire Chats video talk, I talk about how medieval and Tudor people got around. What modes of transport were available to them and how long did they take?

    [Read More...]
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