The Darts of Love
The Lives and Wives of Henry VIII
- Be treated to a private tour of the home of Sir Thomas Wyatt, rumoured lover of Anne Boleyn
- Discover the Tower of London’s history, and visit the graves of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard
- Exclusive tours of Hever Castle and Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire
Everyone knows the popular rhyme, “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived,” which refers to the six wives of Henry VIII. The second Tudor king is rightly famous as England’s most married monarch, with one contemporary exclaiming, after the end of only his fourth marriage, “What a man is this king! How many wives will he have?” The lives of the six women who had the misfortune to marry Henry VIII are less well known than their ultimate fates. Catherine of Aragon, who arrived in England to marry Henry’s older brother, failed to bear a healthy son. She ended her life, discarded at Kimbolton Castle. Catherine was supplanted by the famous Anne Boleyn, who also failed to produce a male heir, and was beheaded in the Tower of London on charges of adultery. Jane Seymour, a lady in waiting to both her predecessors, gave birth to a son at Hampton Court, but died twelve days later. In December 1539, Anne of Cleves arrived to marry the king, but he took an instant dislike to her at their first meeting. His fifth marriage, to Catherine Howard, also ended on the executioner’s block. Lastly, the twice widowed Catherine Parr married the king. This sixth queen, the first English woman to publish a book under her own name, died only eighteen months after Henry at Sudeley Castle. Many sites associated with the six wives survive. This tour tells the story of Henry’s unfortunate queens through the places most associated with them.
- All Inclusive
After meeting at London Victoria, we drive to Rochester Castle in Kent, where Henry VIII met his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, for the first time. Rumour has it that he declared that he had been brought a ‘Flanders Mare’ instead of a woman, when he first met his bride. We then travel to Allington Castle for lunch, before enjoying a private tour in the home of Sir Thomas Wyatt, who was rumoured to be a lover of Anne Boleyn’s. Wyatt was imprisoned in the Tower, but escaped the deaths inflicted upon other men in Anne’s close circle. From here, we drive over to Hever Castle - Anne’s childhood home with its truly delightful gardens - where we have our evening meal together and then spend the night.
In the morning, we enjoy a private tour of Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s family home, as well as that of her elder sister Mary, who had been Henry’s mistress. After lunch, we will head over to the nearby Penshurst Place, one of England’s largest and most palatial stately homes, which was granted to Anne of Cleves following the annulment of her marriage to Henry VIII. The house itself was later home to the quintessential Elizabethan poet and courtier, Sir Philip Sidney. Our overnight stay will be at the four-star Lensbury Hotel, nestled on the banks of the River Thames at Teddington.
Travelling through the Thames Valley, we spend the day in the splendid surroundings of Hampton Court, one of Henry VIII’s favourite palaces after he wrestled it from the reluctant grasp of the man who built it: his chief minister, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Henry spent time there with all of his six wives, with his last five particularly associated with the palace. Here, we tour the spectacular Tudor state apartments, including the haunted gallery, which the screaming ghost of Catherine Howard is reputed to haunt. We also visit the Chapel Royal, where the King received confirmation of Catherine’s infidelity and where Prince Edward - son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour - was christened. We return to the Lensbury for the night.
Our morning will be spent at Windsor Castle, the oldest continuously occupied castle in the world. Henry VIII is buried there with Jane Seymour, while he also spent time with his other wives in the castle. We will then drive to Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire, which was a few miles from the Seymour family home of Wolf Hall. The tombs of Jane Seymour’s father, Sir John Seymour, and her brother, can be viewed, as can stained glass from the original Wolf Hall. We spend the night near Sudeley in Gloucestershire.
We spend the morning exploring Sudeley Castle, which was the final home of Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr. She died there in September 1548, after the birth of her only child. We will then drive to Lincoln, stopping at the Bosworth Battlefield Centre, which witnessed the birth of the Tudor dynasty. We will stay in Lincoln for the next two nights.
We drive over to Gainsborough Old Hall in the morning, which is the well preserved home of Catherine Parr during her first marriage to Edward Burgh. In the afternoon, we visit the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace at Lincoln, where Henry VIII and Catherine Howard stayed in 1541. This was one of the places where she secretly met with her lover, Thomas Culpeper. There will also be time to explore Lincoln Cathedral.
In the morning, we drive southwards to Peterborough Cathedral, to visit the final resting place of Henry VIII’s first - and most long-lasting - wife, Catherine of Aragon. We then enjoy a private tour of Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire, which was Catherine’s final residence. She died there in January 1536, and according to an autopsy, her heart was consumed by a black tumour. We will spend the night near Kimbolton.
After driving to London, we end our tour at the Tower of London, where both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were executed. We visit the scaffold site, as well as the graves of the two queens in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower. We then return to London Victoria in the afternoon.
- Tour Manager & Guide Lecturer
- Meals - 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners
- Transport - All local travel and return journey to London Victoria
- Hand-picked hotels throughout the tour
7 nights in 4* Hotels in the U.K.
Expansion & Empires
The early Modern era is one of expanding empires and emerging identities. This new progressive age took cues from the Renaissance that preceded it - embracing individualism, secularism, and democracy. Change came at an unprecedented speed, reshaping Europe and all of the Empires it had acquired abroad. Join us as we explore the changes and transitions that helped the world move towards the modern life that we live today.