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. The lives of the six women who had the misfortune to marry Henry VIII are less well known than their ultimate fates, but many of the sites most 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’s Victoria station, we board our coach and 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 stop for lunch on the way to Allington Castle, where we enjoy 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 on other men in Anne’s close circle. We then drive over to Hever Castle, Anne’s childhood home with its delightful gardens, where we 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. We then head over to 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 was later home to the quintessential Elizabethan poet and courtier Sir Philip Sidney.
Travelling through the Thames Valley, we will spend the day in the splendid surroundings of Hampton Court, one of Henry VIII’s favourite palaces after he wrested 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. In the palace, we will tour the spectacular Tudor state apartments, including the haunted gallery which the screaming ghost of the doomed Catherine Howard is reputed to haunt. We will 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 Teddington for the night.
This morning will be spent at Windsor Castle, the oldest continuously occupied castle in the world, and home of Britain’s Royal family to this day. Henry VIII is buried here with Jane Seymour, probably his favourite wife, while he also spent time with his other spouses in the castle. We will then drive to Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire, a few miles from the Seymour family home of Wolf Hall. The tombs of Jane Seymour’s father, Sir John Seymour, and her brother, another John, can be viewed, as can stained glass from the original Wolf Hall.
We will spend the morning exploring Sudeley Castle, the final home of Henry VIII’s sixth and last 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 in 1485 after Henry’s father, Henry VII, killed and defeated Richard III here.
We will drive over to Gainsborough Old Hall in the morning, 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 Catherine 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 will then enjoy a private tour of Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire, which was Catherine’s final residence. She died there in January 1536, according to an autopsy, her heart consumed by a black tumour.
After driving to London, we end our tour at the Tower of London, where both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were detained and executed. We will visit the scaffold site, as well as the graves of the two decapitated queens in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower. We will then return to London Victoria in the afternoon to make our farewells.
- Tour Manager & Guide Lecturer
- Meals - Most meals included
- 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.