Starting this Sunday, Penshurst Place will host a series of special Tudor Legacies events that will give visitors the chance to see history come to life. Eileen Leahy finds out more about this unique and fun royal affair
Most locals will probably know that King Henry VIII had ties to Penshurst Place. The multi-married monarch used the stately home, located in the heart of Penshurst, as a hunting lodge. And rumor has it he secretly stayed there while courting Anne Boleyn – who lived near Hever Castle – before their wedding.
Henry VIII first visited Penshurst Place in 1519 as a guest of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, who lavished the equivalent of over £1 million in today’s silver to entertain 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 17 May 1521, with Penshurst Place coming into the possession of the Crown.
This summer, visitors can see this particular period of British history brought to life as the Tudor Legacies entourage descend on scenic Penshurst once a month until September to reveal intriguing tales of life. with the infamous king. His ‘wives’ will also have their say!
Tudor Legacies is a volunteer-based living history group and will be at Penshurst Place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this coming Sunday July 24, then 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 that the stately home is always very happy to welcome the Tudor Legacies team:
“We are delighted to have Tudor Legacies as the official Tudor living history group at Penshurst Place.
“This is the third year that we have welcomed them back to entertain and delight visitors with their historically authentic portrayal of life as Henry’s wife and as the home of Queen Elizabeth I, where the members represent even members of our own Sidney family, including Sir Philip Sidney and also Robert Dudley!
She added: “Tudor Legacies add a huge sense of authenticity to their visits and help transport our visitors through the history of Penshurst Place. An incredibly friendly and knowledgeable group, it’s obvious to anyone who speaks to them. how passionate and engaged they are with the story and the people they represent.
“The Tudor Legacies period costume group will roam the house and grounds as one of six wives, speaking with visitors about the nobility they represent and what the royal family was like during this period,” says Lucy.
During their tours, the men and women of Tudor Legacies explain how the people they represent breathed life into the historic houses they called home, the politics of the time, and the lives, loves and often the losses they have experienced.
At Penshurst they will specifically focus 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 will also play traditional games!
The group’s authentic and beautiful period costumes and engaging storytelling help bring history to life, while setting the backdrop to the magnificent backdrop of Penshurst Place and the Grade I listed gardens, once owned by Henry VIII and frequently visited by Queen Elizabeth I.
‘Tudor Legacies discusses how the people they portray breathed life into the historic homes they called home, the politics of the time, and the lives, loves, and often losses they suffered.‘
Kate Marlborough-Fletcher of Tudor Legacies comments on her excitement to return:
“I hope the public will be able to relate to and better understand each of Henry VIII’s six wives. Why they may have acted the way they did or made a certain decision regarding their fate.
“I think sometimes, amid the facts from textbooks and historical accounts, we forget that Henry VIII’s wives were once real women, flesh and blood with thoughts and feelings too. They were all trying to survive in a society so different from ours.
“Additionally, there is so much focus on Henry VIII himself that we feel wives should have a voice too. They each have their own story to tell. We hope audiences walk away knowing each woman a little better. .
The Tudor Legacies Experience is included in the price of a standard admission ticket to the House and Gardens. For more information on opening times and tickets, visit www.penshurstplace.com.