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Wales Tales

Today is St. David’s Day, a national holiday in our Tudors’ family homeland of Wales. Although it’s not a national holiday in the UK, it is celebrated with much fanfare across Wales: parades, concerts, food festivals, wearing of the daffodil. consuming of lamb/leek stew, and so on. Lots of fun! Well, not for the lambs. But otherwise a lovely celebration!

Remember, then, on this day, that our favourite dysfunctional family had their origins in Wales, where they were the “Tudurs.” When you think “Tudors,” think Wales — Pin on a daffodil and enjoy this 1st day of March!


May It Last Much Longer Than Any of Henry VIII’s!

So I got up at 6 a.m. Eastern Time (and my kids willingly joined me!) to watch The Big Event, snapping the above pic along the way — What an amazing start to the day!

Kate (sorry: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge now) looked every bit the royal in her classy gown and tiara, and Prince William was all handsome and military and heir-like.

Personal fave moment: Did anyone else catch when Kate’s brother was reading during the ceremony and she was looking all around at the crowd? Prince William was calming reading along, very “I’ve been to a ton of these posh ceremonies,” and something made him look toward Kate. When he saw she had been looking all around, he caught her eye and gave her a little tilt of the head, as if to say “Hello?? All right there? Please don’t act starstruck, dahling, you’re one of us now!”

What else stood out to me? 

 Top it all off with a beautiful, rain-free day and two smooches on the balcony, and that’s a royal wedding for ya!

Gorgeous “Tudors” Costumes On Display for Mary Rose 500

Remember those swoon-worthy costumes the “Tudors” actors wore (or removed, as the case was quite often!)? They’ll be on show for the first time in the U.K. starting Saturday 29 January through the end of March at the Mary Rose Museum. The event will celebrate the U.K. release of the final season of “The Tudors” and give the public a chance to contribute to the excellent Mary Rose Appeal.

Here’s the entire “linkified” news release about this exciting event; thank you to Fiona Harvey of the Mary Rose 500 for letting The Tudor Tutor know all the goods:


Emmy Award-Winning Costumes from ‘The Tudors’ to go on display for Mary Rose 500 Appeal
The Tudors – Courtly Couture Collection

Saturday 29th January – until Thursday 31st March 2011 at the Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

 As the multiple Emmy Award-winning series “THE TUDORS” starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers returns for its climactic final season on Saturday 22nd January (BBC2 21.45), the Mary Rose 500 Appeal are thrilled to be showcasing some of the costumes for the very first time in the UK, including Henry VIII’s orange and bronze war costume from the final series that has been used on the promotional posters.

The costumes will go on display in the AV Theatre of the Mary Rose Museum from Saturday 29th January until Thursday 31st March. Entry can be gained with a ticket to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard or free via the museum shop where it is hoped that the public will generously donate to the Mary Rose 500 Appeal to help build the new museum to open in 2012, where more of these stunning exhibitions will be possible.

The eight costumes on show will be those that were worn by Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII, Joss Stone as Anne of Cleves, Joely Richardson as Catherine Parr, Maria Doyle Kennedy as Catherine of Aragon, Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, Annabelle Wallis as Jane Seymour and Tamzin Merchant as Catherine Howard.

They were on display last year at the Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design exhibition in the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Museum & Galleries, Los Angeles; but this will be the first time they will be displayed in the UK.

Joan Bergin is the Costume Designer and winner of the 2010 Emmy for “Outstanding Costume For A Series”, along with Wardrobe Supervisor Susan Cave. Bergin also won Emmys for the series in 2007 and 2008 and received Irish Film & Television Academy awards in 2008 and 2009 as well. Her museum-quality costumes were featured in a Macy’s display in New York City on St. Patrick’s Day. Bergin has contributed to movies including “My Left Foot,” “In the Name of the Father” and “The Prestige.” She is currently working on the Starz Network production of “Camelot,” starring Eva Green and Joseph Fiennes.

Across the series they made about 500 costumes and rented and modified countless others. The degree of skill can be seen in every detail of the costumes from cloth to braid to button.

In an interview with the LA Times, Bergin described “The Tudors” as a strange blend of trying to be as authentic as possible but with a twist. She wanted people to look at it and say, “Look how sexy and foxy,” rather than, “Oh! Who would wear that?” Balenciaga corsets and the Degas ballerinas were her inspiration.

The loan of the costumes has been through the generous support of Joan Bergin and the creator and writer of “The Tudors”, Michael Hirst who will also be visiting the Mary Rose Museum for an event on the 24th March 7-9pm – talking about the series with the final episode airing on Saturday 26th March. Tickets will be priced at £10 with proceeds going to the Mary Rose 500 Appeal.

Michael Hirst commented that: “I am delighted to offer my support to the new Mary Rose Museum appeal and would encourage everyone with an interest in British history to support it too, and perhaps contribute something towards the £35 million which it will cost to transform the Museum into a wonderful contemporary space through which to explore our extraordinary past.

The discovery of Henry V111’s flagship and its retrieval from the sea bed, with thousands of contemporary artefacts, is reason enough to reinvent and reinvigorate a Museum which already houses many iconic objects from our glorious naval history.

So I wish the Trust well in all its endeavours to do justice to what was once lost and in darkness, but is now found and in public sight once more.” 

The exhibition will be open from 11am-3pm on most days, but is advisable to check before visiting at, the MaryRose500 Facebook or Twitter feed, or by calling Fiona Harvey, Appeals fundraiser 023 92 750 521 ext 228.

 There will also be a series of ‘Get the Look’ workshops surrounding the exhibition including knitting and beading workshops at the Museum, talks by Dr Suzannah Lipscomb on Henry VIII and Elizabeth Norton on Catherine Parr. Further details are available as per the contact details above.

 The Mary Rose 500 Appeal would like to acknowledge Debenhams Southsea and the National Museum of the Royal Navy for the loan of mannequins, Arts University College Bournemouth for help in putting the collection exhibition together, Joan Bergin for the loan of the costumes, Michael Hirst writer and producer and Sony for their use of images.

For further press information please contact: Melissa Gerbaldi, Press Officer

Tel: 023 9289 4558 or Email:


The Tudors – Courtly Couture Collection

Saturday 29th January – Thursday 31st March 2011 at the Mary Rose Museum (AV Theatre)

Free with a ticket to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard or entry via the Mary Rose Museum Shop – donations to Mary Rose 500 Appeal

11am-3pm on most days, but is advisable to check before visiting at, the MaryRose500 Facebook or Twitter feed or by calling Fiona Harvey, Appeals fundraiser 023 92 750 521 ext 228.

Workshop dates:

Saturday 5th February Knitting for Beginners – 10am – 1pm £15

Saturday 12th February Decorative Knitting Techniques – 10am – 4pm £35

Saturday 5th March Knitting for Beginners 10am – 1pm as above

Saturday 26th March – Kids from Fame legwarmers 10am – 4pm £35 as above

Tutor Ingrid Murnane – costs include knitting needles and yarn.

Saturday 2nd April Beading for beginners 10am – 4pm

Tutor SallyAnn Dunn Cost £40 includes materials

Places limited to 10 advance booking necessary call Fiona 023 92 750 521

Thursday 3rd March – Prince to Tyrant  – What happened to Henry VIII – Talk by Dr Suzannah Lipscomb Tickets £8.50

Thursday 28th April – Catherine Parr the last queen of Henry VIII and Regent General of England – Talk by Elizabeth Norton Tickets £9.50

Information from or by calling Fiona Harvey, Appeals fundraiser 023 92 750 521 ext 228.

Background Information For Editors On the Mary Rose 500 Appeal

The Mary Rose and her 19,000 artefacts are unique and of significant importance – the Mary Rose 500 ‘new crew’ appeal will write the final chapter in a story that began with her raising in 1982

This is the final funding push – a chance for the public to become involved in a mammoth fundraising effort that has already seen the Mary Rose Trust raise £12.1 million towards a £14 million target, the amount that it must raise to contribute to the full £35million cost of the new museum project. The Heritage Lottery Fund has confirmed £21 million – which meets the rest of the cost.

The ‘new crew’ public appeal target is to raise £250,000 – as a start point for the overall public appeal target of £1 million.

‘Mary Rose 500: recruiting the new crew’ – the Mary Rose Trust is looking for 500 individuals, schools, businesses, organisations, clubs, societies, colleges, to come on board and symbolically become the ‘new crew’ of the Mary Rose, each pledging to raise £500 and become a part of the Mary Rose history.

The importance of ‘500’ to the Mary Rose – the original crew numbered some 500 and it was launched on the 500th anniversary (2009) of Henry VIII coming to the throne and of his commissioning of the Mary Rose. With funding secure, the new museum will also open in time to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the launch of the Mary Rose (1512).

This is an ambitious museum project that will not only preserve the Mary Rose and her contents, but it will realise the dream to secure her future for generations of visitors, in a purpose built museum which brings together the ship and her contents for the first time since 1545 to tell their unique story of Tudor life.


A Very Tudor Christmas

Holly, attributed to the Drummonds, MacInneses...

Image via Wikipedia

I want to take a moment to wish you all a fantastic Christmas and a very happy 2011!  It may be slow around here until after the new year (and I know you all will be very busy too) but I wanted to wrap up some great Tudor Christmas links with a big bow for you. 

Take a look at the goods on a Very Tudor Christmas at …

Enjoy and have a very merry!

Shakespeare’s Secret

The Folger Theater’s production of the oft-hidden “Henry VIII” is part of the happy hoopla surrounding the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession, along with the Vivat Rex! exhibit in the same building. I’ve seen the exhibit, and this past Saturday night, I was thrilled to take in the show. (There’s an official trailer here.)

Maybe it is out of superstition, since the Globe Theater burned down during a performance of “The Famous History of the Life of King Henry VIII” (or maybe because it’s a subject we’ve seen in a thousand different places so why should Shakespeare’s version stand out?) but the Shakespeare/John Fletcher take on the Tudors between the Duke of Buckingham’s arrest and Princess Elizabeth’s birth (spanning the dates from early 1521  to September 1533) is scarcely seen on the stage.

Since the play is called “Henry VIII,” you would expect the Big Guy to be the strongest character. Not so much. Henry, as played by Ian Merrill Peakes, has his intimidating moments and does a fair amount of storming the stage (and turning on the charm), but overall this is a more tame Henry than we might expect. This isn’t a slam against the terrific Peakes, but rather a fact of the character. Henry is the reason for the events in the play, but not usually the focus of the action. Plus, Shakespeare was not about to offend the memory of his patron: Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth I.

Louis Butelli (who made me envision a hypothetic love child of Michael Stipe and a gangly Brad Pitt) is delightful as top jester Will Sommers, a character not in the original play. Sommers is the portal into the events: He plops down on the edge of the stage from time to time and uses puppets to clue us in to the coming drama, breaks that 4th wall regularly, and dons various other hats (literally) to play an old lady, a cardinal, and even Cromwell.  See video of Butelli’s fool here.  

Catherine of Aragon, as played by Naomi Jacobson, is both regal and grounded, has both gravity and sweetness. Her court scene puts the audience into, well, the courtroom audience and is one of the best moments of the play. Her downfall is, of course, nothing less than heartbreaking.

The undeniable standout, however, is Anthony Cochrane as Cardinal Wolsey. His strength and confidence are a marvel through most of the play, but it’s his breakdown that is a true work of art. When you’ve got the Royal Shakespeare Company on your resume, I expect no less! A true Renaissance man, Cochrane is also the composer and sound designer, and here I have to praise the powerful use of music in this “Henry VIII.”

I wish I could say good things about Karen Peakes, who plays a modern-day favorite from the Tudor era,  Anne Boleyn. Whereas, say, Genevieve Bujold and Natalie Dormer really brought Anne’s charm, wit, and magnetism to audiences, Peakes is stiff as wood. Charmless. A real disappointment. Is this because she is opposite her real-life husband? Well, apparently they’ve shared the stage over a dozen times before, so someone must think this is a good idea. I’m not one of them, though.

The show’s outstanding and effective set design (below) is another star. The traditional Tudor design of the theater takes on a slightly dark and gothic tone with the iron side “curtains” and simple cross serving as a powerful centerpiece on the back wall. The huge iron chandelier above is also used as an acting space. The costumes are equally impressive (and heavy!); a true treat for the eyes. Here’s a 4-minute video on Ian Merrill Peakes’ costume.

Before the play began, and during intermission, it was a nice treat to pop into the Great Hall,  just outside the theater doors, for another look at the Golden Gospels of Henry VIII and the rest of the Vivat Rex! exhibit. A true evening with Henry VIII it was, thanks to the Folger Theater, Shakespeare, and well, John Fletcher!

* A few glimpses of the play can be seen in a video review at the bottom of this page, and in the official trailer.

* The cast gives an awesome summary of the play in under a minute here.

Look What They Found in Ye Olde Tudor Family Attic (Part 3)

Welcome to the final installment in the Vivat Rex! exhibit posts — I’ve realized that I’d been giving away a lot in these posts and don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone who can get to the Folger Shakespeare Library for this super spread. But I can’t resist mentioning a few more gems …

* A pre-Reformation case holds a little devotional book which Henry had given to Lord Protector Somerset, and which was then passed on to Mary I. She was lucky to have gotten it at all, as her fanatical brother (takes one to know one, I guess) had most books such as this destroyed. Under an illustration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the queen’s careful, round handwriting: “Marye the quene Ave Maria.” Around these words, she drew a few simplistic crosses, with tiny dots at the tips. I found this touch endearing! (Photos of this piece are not allowed.)

* In the case regarding the king’s Great Matter (his obsessive need to give Cat of Aragon the boot because he was surely being punished by God for marrying his brother’s wife), there hangs a large letter from Cat to her nephew, Charles V. Charles was the Holy Roman Emperor (as well as being Charles I of Spain) and a huge proponent of nixing the Reformation, so part of her February 1531 letter was thanking him for having her back in this matter. Anyway, what struck me most about it was her chicken-scratch handwriting, complete with cross-outs and overwrites. I imagine stress and desperation had a lot to do with this; it was a bit painful to look at in that respect. (Again, photos not allowed.)  

* In one of the “Break with Rome” cases, there is a prayer book (below; click for a larger image) that belonged to a Reformer. You can see that certain passages have been crossed out, and the word “pope” is scratched out (left page, sixth line down).


The gift shop at the rear of the exhibit hall is a treasure trove of Tudor-era goodies. Lots are geared toward Henry VIII specifically and range from the serious (such as David Starkey books, books on the Reformation, and informative DVDs) to the flat-out-fun (such as the “disappearing wives” mug, a House of Tudor board game, and a set of plush Christmas ornaments featuring the monarch and all his lovely maidens). It being the Folger Shakespeare Library, there are also lots of neat Shakespearean-themed gifts, including Elizabeth I items.

The docents’ desk at the entrance has great activity flyers for kids, such as a Tudor family tree with space for children to fill out their own tree. Hopefully they will not need to include family members who have been beheaded!

**Special thanks to docents Jennifer Newton and Michael Neuman for their time, assistance, and knowledge.

Look What They Found in Ye Olde Tudor Family Attic (Part 2)

I spent yesterday morning at our local mall, strolling beneath the tinsel and red baubles to the sounds of Frank Sinatra’s Christmas album. It’s only the first week of November! But I adore Christmas so I can’t complain, and I got a tiny bit of shopping done as well.

Who knows how long I’d have been there if my list were as long as Henry VIII’s from New Year’s Day 1539! (click for a larger view)

On display as part of the Vivat Rex! exhibition, the scroll is 8 1/2 foot long scroll and lists recipients from most to least important. In the top pic it is easy to see three “to” sections: The first is to “the Lorde Prince [Eddie],” the next is to “the Lady Mariee,” and finally “to the Lady Elizabeth.”

Because of the wrinkle, it is difficult to see “to the Lady Margret Doughtles” after that, followed by the list of bishops. I’m able to make out “Canterbury,” “York,” “Lincoln,” and “London.” Maybe you can figure out more? The second pic (below) is the lower half of the scroll, and lists the goods for dukes and lords, earls, and duchess and countesses.  

Near this scroll is a bittersweet spot in history, the account of another New Year’s Day, that of 1511. In Holinshed’s Chronicles, we see the whole shebang celebrating the birth of  Henry and Cat of Aragon’s son, Prince Henry (who died nearly two months later).

The noted festivities included a pageant “glistening by night as though it had beene all of gold and set with stones” and jousts with “certeine lords apparelled, they and their horsses in cloth of gold and russet tinsell…Then came the king under a pauilion of cloth of gold and purple veluet embrodered, and powered with H. and K. of fine gold.”

The next post will wrap up the peek at this fine exhibit, including some chat about Catherine of Aragon’s letter to her nephew, and a Reformist vs. a Traditionist face-off in the pages of a Tudor-era prayer book.