A Tudor Tour - following the novel Virgin and the Crab

4th February 2011
Here is a map I made of 16th century England and the many palaces, castles and important cities, towns and rivers of the Tudor landscape. I have included this in a new edition of my novel 'Virgin and the Crab.' It is to assist readers, and especially anyone not familiar with English geography or Tudor society, to keep track of where all the characters are at any given point in the story. And how far all the various places are situated from one another. A Tudor Tour.
a map of southern England during Tudor times, black and white, with place names
Tudor Southern England. Click to enlarge.

Rivers rather than roads

You'll notice that there are no roads shown, only rivers connecting all these places. That is because the waterways were the main channels of transport and communications in Tudor society. The important rivers here are the Lea, the Medway and, of course, The Thames, which flows through London and connects most of the royal palaces lived in by the Tudors and Elizabethans. I have been to most of these places myself over the years. So it was also a trip down memory lane. Let's go through it again now (without any spoilers). And if you already own a copy of Virgin and the Crab, feel free to print out the map for your own use.

The Tudor tour

1)   Woodham Walter and Maldon, where Mary Tudor stayed in the Summer of 1550.
2)  Cambridge, seat of the most influential university in Tudor times (along with Oxford).
3)  The city of London, including the Tower of London and many of the famous streets like Cheapside and Fleet Street.
4)   Hatfield House. Home of Elizabeth Tudor, mostly during her years as princess, before becoming Queen.
5)   The area south of the Thames around Richmond where many great houses and palaces were (and still are) situated. This area includes places like Kingston, Mortlake and Sheen.
6)   The area north of the Thames that includes Sion (Syon) House and Hampton Court Palace - one of the iconic buildings of the times.
7)   Greenwich Palace, birthplace of Elizabeth Tudor.
8)   Framlingham Castle in the county of Suffolk. The counties of East Anglia, such as Suffolk and Norfolk, contained strongholds of support for Mary Tudor prior to her becoming Queen.
9)   Westminster - which in Tudor times was a city separate from London. Westminster Abbey is where all the kings and queens of England have been crowned for centuries. In Tudor times there were also important palaces at nearby Whitehall and St James.
10)  The towns of Maidstone and ...
11)   Rochester - important towns in the county of Kent because the main land routes between London and the coast pass through them. Anyone journeying overseas from London to, say, France, would know these towns well.
12)  Donnington Castle. One of the properties owned by the princess Elizabeth.
13)  Ashridge - another royal residence, owned by the princess Elizabeth.
14)  Upton upon Severn. Close to the country of Wales. Important only in this story as the location of the Church living once given to John Dee by King Edward VI.
15)  Oxford. The big university town. Oxford and Cambridge can be considered rivals in a friendly kind of way.
16)  The palace of Woodstock. A famous hunting lodge prior to Tudor times. Elizabeth was exiled there at one stage in her life.
17)  The city of Winchester. An important cathedral is located there. Queen Mary married Philip of Spain in Winchester.
18)  Windsor Castle. It was an important strategic location in Tudor times. Henry VIII is buried there.
So there you go! Although many of these places seem far apart, they were easily reached, one to the other, by the royal barges. These vessels were often propelled by a dozen oarsmen as they sped along the rivers. The Tower of London to Westminster, for example, would probably have taken less than thirty minutes.
text with image of Tudor princess in bonnet
Authored by Robert Stephen Parry

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