If Wolf Hall has left you on the edge of your seat, then come and discover Tudor Bristol.
If you have been fascinated by the goings on of the Tudor Court in Wolf Hall, then you can certainly spend a day exploring both the real Tudor Bristol – and the parts of Bristol that doubled up as filming location in the excellent BBC adaptation.
Although very much a modern European city, Bristol has a thousand years of history, some of which is very visible from the eclectic mix of buildings lining streets some of which can be traced back to the origins of the small settling of Brigstow.
Bristol is lucky enough to have its own Tudor gem - The Red Lodge. Tucked away on Park Row, it was originally built on the site of an old priory by John Young, a courtier to Henry VIII and then his daughter, Queen Elizabeth.
While most of its original grounds are now home to the modern city, the walled garden offers a haven of calm and is an excellent example of a re-created Elizabethan-style knot garden. The lodge itself has seven rooms over two floors, telling the history of the house, from its Tudor origins and includes the last complete Tudor room in the UK – so something you won’t find anywhere else!
- Open from Saturday 4 April 2015 at 10:30
- The Red Lodge Website
John Cabot and The Matthew
In 1497 John Cabot and his 18 man crew set sail from Bristol under the commission on Henry VII to find a new trade route to Asia. Instead however he arrived on the coast of Newfoundland and therefore was the original discoverer of North America, not Christopher Columbus as most people believe.
To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Cabot’s voyage of discovery, a replica of The Matthew was built and in 1997 the new Matthew followed the same course as John Cabot to Newfoundland.
Today The Matthew is based in Bristol Harbour and is open to the public as well as undertaking short cruises around the harbour, some complete with fish and chips or afternoon tea! It’s also a genuine star of the screen and has been featured in many films and TV programmes, including a spot of green screen filming last summer for Galavant.
Building work began on this grand castle in 1511 – it was intended as a home for Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham and was almost finished by 1521, when the Duke’s distant cousin, Henry VIII, accused him of treason, had him beheaded and confiscated his castle. Fourteen years later, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn enjoyed a ten-day retreat at Thornbury Castle as part of a honeymoon tour.
It’s now a truly unique hotel offering spectacular rooms and a great restaurant. Try the afternoon tea for a truly indulgent castle experience!
So we know of course that the beautiful Bristol Cathedral is a few hundred years earlier than Tudor’s ascent to the throne, but Bristol Cathedral doubled up as Westminster Abbey in the adaptation of Wolf Hall. The cathedral travelled back in time to host the crowning of Anne Boleyn and look absolutely incredible. While we can’t guarantee any royal weddings, the cathedral is one of Bristol’s most fascinating buildings with almost a thousand years of history to explore.
The major BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker-Prize winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies was filmed in and around the West Country in summer 2014, and eagle eyed viewers may be able to spot some of the other locations, including Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. Berkeley Castle was also a location for ‘The Other Bolyen Girl’ the story of Anne’s sister Mary – who also appears in Wolf Hall.
Acton Court is a recently restored Tudor house in South Gloucestershire and was owned by The Poyntz family from 1364 until 1680. Nicholas Poyntz (died 1557) added the East Wing onto the existing moated manor house shortly before 1535 which was then lavishly and fashionably decorated to impress Henry VIII. The king and Anne Boleyn, stayed in the house in 1535, during a tour of the West Country.