Life in the court of Henry VIII

Life in the court of Henry VIII

Most locals will probably know that King Henry VIII had ties with Penshurst Place. The many-times married monarch used the stately home, which is located in the heart of Penshurst, as a hunting lodge. And it is rumoured that he may well have stayed there secretly while wooing Anne Boleyn – who lived at nearby Hever Castle – before they married.

Henry VIII first visited Penshurst Place in 1519 as the guest of Edward Stafford, the 3rd Duke of Buckingham, who lavished the equivalent of over £1million in today’s money on entertaining Henry and his entourage. But with a strong claim to the throne himself, Henry soon grew suspicious of the wealthy duke and had him tried for treason. Found guilty, he was beheaded at Tower Hill on 17th May 1521, with Penshurst Place coming into the possession of the Crown.

This summer visitors can see this particular period of British history brought back to life courtesy of the Tudor Legacies entourage who will be descending on picturesque Penshurst once a month until September in order to reveal intriguing accounts of life with the infamous king. His ‘wives’ will also have their say!

Tudor Legacies are a voluntary based living history group amd will be at Penshurst Place from 11am to 3pm this coming Sunday July 24 and then on Sunday August 14 and Sunday September 11.

‘We forget that Henry VIII’s wives were real women, flesh and blood with thoughts and feelings too’

Lucy McLeod, Head of Marketing and Events at Penshurst Place told the Times the stately home is always very happy to welcome the Tudor Legacies team:

“We are delighted to have Tudor Legacies as our official Tudor living history group at Penshurst Place.

“This is the third year we have welcomed them back to entertain and delight visitors with their historically authentic representation of life as one of Henry’s wives, and as the household of Queen Elizabeth I, where members even portray members of our own Sidney family including Sir Philip Sidney and also Robert Dudley!”

She added: “Tudor Legacies add an enormous sense of authenticity during their visits, and help our visitors transport themselves through the history of Penshurst Place. An incredibly friendly and informed group, it’s obvious to all who speak to them how passionate and engaged they are with the history and people they represent.

“The period costume group from Tudor Legacies will be wandering the house and grounds in character as one of the six wives, talking with visitors about the nobility they portray, and what the royal family was like during this period,” Lucy explains.

During their visits, the men and women of Tudor Legacies explain how the people they portray breathed life into the historic houses they called home, the politics of the era, and the lives, loves and often losses they experienced.

At Penshurst they will specifically concentrate on the stories and characters of Henry VIII’s six wives, touching on the children they had including Queen Elizabeth 1 and Mary Queen of Scots. They’ll also play traditional games too!

The group’s authentic and beautiful period costumes, and engaging stories, help bring history to life, while putting in context the wonderful backdrop of Penshurst Place and the Grade I listed gardens, once owned by Henry VIII and frequently visited by Queen Elizabeth I.

Tudor Legacies explain how the people they portray breathed life into the historic houses they called home, the politics of the era, and the lives, loves and often losses they experienced.

Kate Marlborough-Fletcher of Tudor Legacies comments on her excitement at returning:

“I hope the audience will be able to relate to and understand better each of the six wives of Henry VIII. Why they may have acted the way they did or made a certain decision with regards to their fate.

“I think sometimes amidst the textbook facts and historical recounts we forget that the wives of Henry VIII were once real women, flesh and blood with thoughts and feelings too. They were all trying to survive in a society that was so completely different to that of our own.

“Moreover, so much focus is upon Henry VIII himself that we feel that the wives should be given a voice too. They each have their own individual story to tell. We hope the audience will leave knowing each wife just a little bit better.”

The Tudor Legacies experience is included in the price of a standard house and gardens entry ticket. To find out more information about opening times and tickets visit 

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