Swain Destinations Team member, Cathi Landowski, shares her favorite footsteps to trace around London and Windsor: The Tudors.
For as long back as I can remember, I’ve always held a fascination for the Tudor history of the United Kingdom. With the exception of their current monarch, it’s pretty obvious their most famous ruler (and some would say infamous) would be Henry VIII. It’s one thing to ‘know’ about Henry and his wives. It’s another to walk through the buildings where they lived, loved and died.
On my first trip to London, my first stop was, of course, The Tower of London. It’s beautiful in it’s own way, and so much history has been kept within their walls that it would take hundreds of trips to experience it all. From the Crown Jewels that sparkle and gleam, to the sad Tower Green where Queens lost their heads, the terrifying Traitor’s Gate, where prisoners entered the Tower to never leave alive. This history is all around you when you walk into the doors of the Chapel. When visiting The Tower, I make it a point to always pay my respects to the Queens who lost their lives to Henry and his ambitions and love of power.
Another spot with a Tudor focus would be Westminster Abbey. They now have verger-led tours to help you bypass a lot of that, which is great news. The majesty of this building cannot be overstated. From the stunning black and white floors to the incredible ceilings, you could literally spend the day here.
Windsor Castle is world renowned as the current Queen’s most beloved home but in truth 39 monarchs have called it that. Windsor is set in a lovely little village accessed by train from London. Here you can visit State Apartments, mouth agape from the incredible tapestries, chandeliers and paintings. My favorite spot, though, is St George’s Chapel. Steeped in history from the happy to sad (Prince Harry’s wedding to Prince Phillip’s funeral in recent years), St George’s is the final resting place of Henry VIII.
Of all the Tudor spots around Greater London, though, none hold my heart like Hampton Court Palace. Hampton Court is a brilliant mash-up of architectural styles, and is the closest you’ll get to experiencing life as a Tudor. Hampton Court is built with stunning red bricks, setting it very much apart from, say, the Tower of London and it’s pale walls. Hampton Court has a brilliant courtyard, with incredible decorative chimneys scattered about.
The wonderful thing about London is that you don’t have to be a super Tudor fan to find things to do. London has something for literally EVERYONE. It’s why you can go back again and again, finding new spots, revisiting old familiar ones. I truly love London and can’t wait to go back!