The Tudors showed us how to celebrate in style. You can still channel the lavish banquets and awesome architecture on your wedding day with any of these fabulous venues
Words: Hollie Bond
Hampton Court Palace, London
Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace
is arguably the defining architectural icon of the Tudor era. And the good news is that you can have part of this handsome red-brick palace to yourselves for a wedding day surrounded by ornate painted ceilings and magnificent tapestries. Choose between the cathedral-like Great Hall, with its hammerbeam ceiling and stained-glass windows, and The Undercroft (once the big-girthed king’s beer cellar), which seats 180 guests. The palace has been the backdrop to plenty of historical dramas, but keep an eye out for its iconic exterior in Holmes and Watson
, a comedy feature film starring Will Ferrell that’s out next year.
tel 020 3166 6399
Hever Castle, Kent
is a Tudor gem. Two of Henry VIII’s wives – Anne Boleyn, whom he beheaded, and Anne of Cleves, whom he divorced – lived here during their short lives. But don’t let horrible Henry’s dodgy marriage record put you off; Hever has huge potential for romantic nuptial celebrations. There’s an Italian lakeside garden for knockout photos or summer dos. If you’re after a Tudor-style feast, the Castle Dining Hall is made for banqueting, with its long tables, minstrel gallery and ornate fireplace. Some Tudor treats are best left to the history books – happily, roast swan is no longer a menu option.
tel 01732 861800
Chavenage House, Gloucestershire
If this Elizabethan mansion in the Cotswolds looks familiar, it’s because Chavenage House has starred as Trenwith, the Poldark family pile, in the BBC series. Yes, Aiden Turner has actually walked through these grounds and filmed in the reception rooms. Perhaps best not to tell your other half that this is reason enough to book the venue. Other motivations include four splendid reception spaces, some with grand fireplaces and unusually large windows (choose The Great Hall to replicate the feasts in Poldark). Then there’s the circular drive, which is a good excuse for splashing out on stylish big-day transport.
tel 01666 504696
Owlpen Manor, Somerset (01453 860261)
Book this Tudor manor and you might have to share your day with a few uninvited guests. By which we mean the four ghosts that reputedly haunt its hallways (Queen Margaret of Anjou being the most notable phantom presence). Perhaps the reason they won’t leave is because this pretty hillside house is a ‘paradise incomparable on earth’ (according to the poet Swinburne). Make the most of the fine Tudor interiors by feasting in the Great Hall or in the Cyder House. This honey-coloured building was a location for the BBC’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, starring Eddie Redmayne.
tel 01666 504696
+ Historian, TV presenter and chief curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley is just the person to ask about the most memorable weddings of the era. This is what she has to say about biggest celebrations: ‘Years before Henry VIII, his brother Arthur married Catherine of Aragon at St Paul’s. They appeared on top of a huge temporary stage-set called the ‘Mountain’ so they could be seen by all. A wine fountain kept everyone happy at the celebrations.’
+ June was the most popular month for weddings in the 1500s because most people took their yearly bath in May and still smelt OK the following month. To mask any body odour, brides would carry a bouquet of fragrant flowers.
Fancy something from a different time in history? Click below to step back in time on your big day and star in your own period drama.
This article was first published in SquareMeal Weddings 2017