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Did Henry VIII eat turkey for Christmas dinner?

December 12, 2022

Did Henry VIII eat turkey for Christmas dinner?

It’s a question that often comes up at my Tudor Christmas events. So here’s a bit about the history of our favourite Christmas dish and a few personal memories of the noble turkey bird.

A Christmas feast at the court of King Henry VIII must have been a truly magnificent spectacle. Every type of meat, fish and fowl you can imagine — including some that seem very strange to us today — found its way on to the groaning tables at Greenwich Palace and Hampton Court. But …

Rare survivors: Farthingale sleeves and supports

December 12, 2022

Farthingale sleeves — a chance to examine some very rare survivors

In an episode of the BBC’s Antiques Road Show that first aired on 30 October 2022, an incredible cache of Elizabethan textiles was presented for assessment at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham. This very rare collection belonged to the Willoughby family of Wollaton Hall, which was built in 1588 by wealthy coal baron Sir Francis Willoughby.

The items included a wonderful 500-year-old bedspread and pillowcases, but they were eclipsed by the "extremely rare" ivory silk satin sleeve and sleeve support found in the same chest.


Missing Persons — Who were the Typical Tudors?

December 12, 2022

Missing Persons — Who were the Typical Tudors?

Tudor Tailor Conference, Nottingham, 22-25 October 2022

They say the best things are worth waiting for. Well, the conference to launch the Tudor Tailor’s new book “The Typical Tudor” was certainly worth the wait. After several false starts because of the pandemic, Tudor costume enthusiasts from all over the world gathered in Nottingham on a rather wet weekend. What a treat was in store for us.


We were greeted with a glass at registration on Saturday afternoon and there was time …

In the footsteps of Katherine Champernowne — A Woman of Noble Wit

October 08, 2022

Although her famous sons, Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Humphrey Gilbert, travelled far beyond England’s shores Katherine lived all her life in Devon. These are just a few of the places she knew.


Katherine was almost certainly born at the Champernowne’s mansion in Modbury. Known as The Court House, it occupied an important strategic position high on the hill above the market town, commanding sweeping views over the surrounding Devon countryside.

Nothing remains of the Court House except a …

Riding and Riding Apparel for women in Tudor and Elizabethan England

August 22, 2022

— a post prompted by watching the Starz TV series Becoming Elizabeth

August 2022 brought quite a heatwave to Devon. It was far too hot to work in my attic-room office, so I took some time off to binge-watch the Starz TV series Becoming Elizabeth. Set in the years immediately following the death of King Henry VIII, it concentrates on the relationship between the young princess Elizabeth and the charismatic but dangerous Thomas Seymour. I often find TV dramatisations disappointing but, despite having a few qualms about some of the plot …