Tudor Palaces of London - A Day of Talks

Talk Heritage
  • Venue


  • Time

    10:00 AM

  • Price

    £10 - £20 plus booking fee

  • Book Tickets

Join us for a day of talks on Tudor palaces of London in partnership with Tudor Places magazine

The Tudor monarchs are renowned for their fabulous displays of power, wealth and status and nowhere was this more evident than in their magnificent palaces. Designed to awe and impress, and heavily decorated with heraldic devices and dynastic symbols, they were the setting for royal births, weddings and deaths, and the stage on which the dramatic events of the Tudor reigns were played out. Today, St James’s is the only Tudor palace still used as a royal residence. The glorious Hampton Court Palace provides us with a taste of the size and splendour of these Tudor palaces, but of the others only tantalising hints remain; in remnants of cellars and street names, in foundations and traces of masonry, and in paintings, sketches, letters, accounts and ambassadors’ reports.

This day of talks explores some of the palaces of Tudor London; where, how and why they were built, their facades, floorplans and decoration, and what they tell us about the Tudor monarchs and their court.

A ticket for the day allows entry to all the talks. Books from each speaker and copies of Tudor Places magazine, will be available to purchase from either Library or Cathedral Shop.

This event is in partnership with our friends at Tudor Places, a magazine dedicated to exploring Tudor places and their stories, past and present. Find out more about Tudor Places magazine at their website.

Doors open at 10.00am for a 10.20am start and take place in the Cathedral Library. There will be time for a Q&A session at the end of each talk. The day will include a lunch break where attendees are encourage to use the Cathedral cafe, Borough Market or cafes and pubs within the vicinity of the Cathedral.

This event is in-person only and will not be streamed or recorded. If you have any access requirements please contact the Visitor Engagement Officer Emily Thorne on Emily.Thorne@southwark.anglican.org.

Our programme


10:20am Welcome and introduction - Deborah Roil (Tudor Places)


10:30am Richmond Palace – Mark Lewis

Sheen Palace, on the banks of the River Thames, upstream from the city of London, was a popular residence of the medieval kings. Following a fire in December 1497, Henry VII commissioned a new palace in its place, re-named after the Yorkshire earldom he held prior to becoming king. It was built around two courtyards, mainly in red brick, although its impressive great hall was built in stone, as was the three-storey square tower of old Sheen Palace, housing the king and queen’s privy apartments, that was incorporated into it. Completed in time to host a wedding reception for Prince Arthur and Katharine of Aragon in 1501, Richmond Palace was favoured by Henry VII and his granddaughter, Elizabeth I, both of whom died there.

Mark Lucas is passionate about history and a longtime resident of Richmond. For many years he has hosted the guided tours of the gardens of Trumpeters House, on the site of the original Palace of Richmond. He was on the production team for an event “The Arcadian Thames” in the Great Hall of Hampton Court Palace for the Father Thames Trust supporting the Thames Landscape Strategy. Mark is the Membership secretary for the Richmond Local History Society, as well as organising their publicity and events.


11:30am Eltham Palace – Andrew Beattie

Located on an elevated site to the southeast of London, Eltham was a sizable and luxurious medieval palace used by the Plantagenet kings who enjoyed its access to vast royal hunting grounds. It was greatly remodelled by Edward IV, who built new apartments for his queen, Elizabeth Woodville, in a long brick range with a series of five-sided bay windows providing views of the distant London, and a very impressive great hall with an outstanding hammerbeam roof, which still stands today. When Henry VII developed Greenwich palace, just four miles away, into an important royal residence, Eltham became the royal nursery. Henry VIII spent much of his childhood there, along with his sisters, Margaret and Mary. It was at Eltham, in 1499 that the young Henry, then Duke of York, met and impressed the humanist scholar, Erasmus.

Andrew Beattie is the author of Henry VIII: a History of his Most Important Places and Events, a new book that looks at the palaces, houses, castles and churches associated with the king. His previous books looked at the places associated with the Princes in the Tower and King Arthur. He has also written a number of books on travel and the environment, and a work of historical fiction for children (aged 9-12), The Secret in the Tower, which is set during the last days of the reign of King Richard III. Andrew is a graduate of Oxford University and lives in London where he works as an editor and archivist.


12:30pm Lunch break


1:30pm Hampton Court Palace – Siobhan Clarke

Originally acquired to be his country residence, Thomas Wolsey transformed the existing manor at Hampton Court into one of the largest and most impressive houses in England; a masterpiece constructed in red brick and elaborately decorated with gothic and Italianate designs in terracotta. After Henry VIII obtained Hampton Court at the end of the 1520s, he built extensive new privy apartments for himself and his queen, and a nursery for his son and heir, Edward, who was born there in 1537. Hampton Court became a favoured royal residence in Henry VIII’s later years, second only to Whitehall, and it is where he married his sixth wife, Katherine Parr, in 1543.

Siobhan Clarke BA Hons has worked for Historic Royal Palaces for 20 years, delivering tours and lectures on the palaces of Hampton Court, Kensington, the Tower of London and the Banqueting House, Whitehall. She has lectured for the British Museum, National Trust, National Archives, U3A and Smithsonian and is an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society. Siobhan has featured on BBC Radio ‘Women's Hour’ and PBS Television's ‘Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace’. Her published work includes ‘A Tudor Christmas’ with Alison Weir (Jonathan Cape, 2018). ‘The Tudors: The Crown, the Dynasty, the Golden Age’ with Linda Collins (Andre Deutsch, 2019). ‘King and Collector: Henry VIII and the art of Kingship’ with Linda Collins (History Press, 2021). ‘Gloriana: Elizabeth I and the art of Queenship’ with Linda Collins (History Press, 2022).


2:30pm Oatlands and Nonsuch Palaces – Elizabeth Norton


Henry VIII purchased Oatlands in Surrey, then a substantial manor house, in 1537, and proceeded to extend and remodel it into a splendid palace, probably intended for the use of his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. Located within the honour of Hampton Court, an extensive royal hunting ground, it was much smaller and more informal than nearby Hampton Court Palace. Built predominantly of brick, more unusually, the queen’s lodgings were larger than the king’s and it had a timber-framed, three-storey, Prospect Tower that provided 360-degree views of the hunting grounds that surrounded it. Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, at Oatlands in some secrecy in July 1540.


Henry VIII’s last great building project, begun in 1538, Nonsuch Palace was purpose-built on the site of the village of Cuddington. It was considered the height of modernity and opulence in its day, as is reflected in its name – there was ‘none such’ palace to rival it. Like Oatlands, Nonsuch was intended to provide a refuge from the court at Hampton Court Palace, a place to relax and enjoy the surrounding hunting grounds. Although it had a simple two courtyard plan, it was an unusual mix of architectural styles and highly decorated. The stucco panels of the inner court were covered in figures from classical history and mythology, liberal arts and cardinal virtues and vices.

Dr Elizabeth Norton is an historian, writer and broadcaster specialising in the queens of England and the Tudor period. She has written twelve books on the medieval and Tudor period, the most recent of which are the critically acclaimed The Lives of Tudor Women and The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor. Elizabeth frequently appears on television and has worked as a historical consultant on a number of non-fiction and fiction historical films and television, including acting as a consultant and contributor on the BBC’s The Boleyns, a Scandalous Family and the 2023 film, Firebrand.


3:30pm Concluding remarks - Deborah Roil


3:40pm End