The National Portrait Gallery in London tells the fascinating stories of people and their lives. The Gallery has a vast amount of original Tudor portraits from the very large to the very strange. It is free to enter and this year they are running free summer schools for 14 to 21-year-old where all materials are provided. Imagine learning to draw in such an amazing place. It’s free but places fill up fast so booking is essential.
When Bess of Hardwick died, aged 81, she was the most powerful woman in Elizabethan England after the Queen. In her lifetime she had kept company with Mary Queen of Scots, married her grandchild into Royalty, was friends with Robert Dudley and William Cecil. She was close to the tragic Grey family and she was often at court. It is said that every aristocratic family in Britain has her blood running through their veins including the present Royal family. When Bess died she was the very wealthy Countess of Shrewsbury but her life had begun very differently.
There was nothing in Bess’s early life that indicated her great rise. Her family’s land was not valuable nor anything special; it was simply used to graze sheep. She was never a beautiful or a particularly well educated woman, which makes her spectacular rise to fame and fortune even more remarkable – this in an age when women had no legal rights. The best education a Tudor woman could hope to acquire was in sewing, music and perhaps if she was very fortunate the ability to read and write. Continue reading “Man eating schemer or modern woman trapped in Tudor Skirts? Bess of Hardwick…”→
In June 1912, workmen demolishing an old timber framed building in London noticed something in the dirt as they were breaking up the cellar floor with their pick axes. As the soil was scraped away they uncovered an old wooden casket. Inside was a tangled mix of precious Elizabethan jewellery unseen for hundreds of years.
I cannot put into words how good Kentwell Hall ‘do Tudor.’
If you want to experience an authentic recreation of Tudor England then this incredible Suffolk experience has to be the best. Kentwell Hall have been staging live Tudor events since 1978 and when they say ‘Our Tudor days are unrivalled in scale‘ and ‘What we offer is still the biggest, most comprehensive, and most authentic Tudor experience you will get anywhere’ on their website they are not exaggerating! They have over 250 ‘Tudors’ who are enthusiastic and thoroughly absorbed in their Tudor roles. Continue reading “Take a walk down the Time Tunnel and spend a day in the Elizabethan England…”→
A 400 years old recipe for Elizabeth I’s perfume was discovered in a book at the Royal Horticultural Society’s library in London. The book is titled ‘The Mystery and Lure of Perfume’ by C J S Thompson. The recipe says:
”Take 8 grains of musk and put in rose-water 8 spoonfuls, 3 spoonfuls of Damask-water, and a quarter of an ounce of sugar. Boil for five hours and strain it”
This perfume is the closest we can get to knowing what the queen smelled of and it probably was very nice indeed.
Hieroglyphics in the Middle East show that Ancient Egyptians were making perfume 3,000 years before the birth of Christ but scent did not arrive in England until the sixteenth century.
Perfumes in Tudor and Elizabethan England were mainly used to cover up nasty smells. They made ‘pickled roses’ which we call ‘pot pourri’ today. It was made from flower petals and used to keep homes smelling fresh and disease free. Cardinal Wolsey was famous for always having a sweet smelling orange pomander to ward off disease as he spoke to common people in the streets of London. There were no flushing toilets and lots of unhygienic practices in Tudor England and I imagine it was all a bit smelly!
Tudors used perfume in pomanders which rich women hung around their girdles or in their rooms. They believed that disease could be caught by bad smells which they called miasma.
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII’s chief adviser.
Left: Mary Queen of Scots’ pomander. Right: A pomander purse ( Both from her Majesty’s Royal Collection.)
Tudor doctors thought miasma was a poisonous mist which caused disease. They believed miasma was found near any filthy or rotten smell. They used perfumes and pomanders to cover up the miasma and to protect themselves from illness. Plague doctors wore masks filled with flowers to try protect themselves too.