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Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London to Stratford-upon-Avon and Thornbury Castle

by Suzannah Lipscomb

Pub Date: June 15th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-60598-460-5
Publisher: Pegasus

Lipscomb (Early Modern History/Univ. of East Anglia; 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII, 2009) combines her credentials as historian/TV presenter/author to give us a thorough history/guided tour of the Tudors.

The author divides the narrative geographically into seven districts, including greater London, tracing the stories of Henry VII, Henry VIII and his children. Rather than confusing readers, the geographic technique allows one to view the impact these monarchs had in each area. Sadly, no maps are supplied for each section. They would improve visualization and allow travelers to plan a visit. Still, once readers have finished this unusual book, they will discover their knowledge of the Tudor kings and queens has considerably expanded. Henry VII, the first Tudor and victor at Bosworth, reigned from 1485 to 1509. The building of Richmond Palace was Henry VII’s only break from his miserly ways as he fought to secure his dynasty. He died there, as did his granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth I, almost 100 years later. Henry VIII’s lifestyle markedly contrasts with his father’s, as he built, or “acquired,” more than 60 houses and palaces, not least of which was Hampton Court. There are, logically, more places connected to Henry VIII and Elizabeth for the simple reason that their reigns were longer. Edward VI, Mary and the pitiful Jane Grey together only reigned just over a decade. Lipscomb avoids becoming an architectural or archaeological guide while pointing out ruins worth a look—e.g., Westminster Abbey, as well as less-renowned sites like Kenilworth Castle, which has a “baleful and crestfallen air.”

A clever history of how the Tudors ushered England into the medieval age, illustrating the broad influence they exerted both then and now.