Burial Sites for the Tudors and Other English Royalty

Burial Sites for the Tudors and Other English Royalty

westminster_abbey_by_canaletto_1749

This past year, I was able to finally say I’ve visited the graves of Henry VIII and all of his wives.  In a Tudor circle, the question was asked about where you can see the graves of Tudor and other royalty.  This is a good topic so I thought I would give some hints and tips.

For the most part you can visit graves of royalty in public churches, abbeys and cathedrals with no fees such as Catherine of Aragon’s in Peterborough Cathedral, Arthur Tudor’s grave in Worcester Cathedral, Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk in Bury St. Edmund’s Abbey or Richard III in Leicester Cathedral.  Some may not know that Mary Queen of Scots was buried in Peterborough after she was executed in the Great Hall of Fotheringhay Castle.  The burial site is directly across the aisle from Catherine of Aragon’s grave.  When Mary’s son became James I of England, he had his mother’s remains re-interred in Westminster Abbey, giving her a magnificent tomb which some say eclipses in beauty the tomb of Queen Elizabeth I.  Edmund Tudor, father of King Henry VII is buried in St. David’s Cathedral in Wales.

Layout of Westminster Abbey dated 1894

Layout of Westminster Abbey dated 1894

 

Westminster Abbey, of course, is the royal pantheon.  Thirty English monarchs are buried here.  It costs about twenty-five pounds to enter the Abbey.  The main tomb is Edward the Confessor at the High Altar.  Edward was the founder of Westminster Abbey.  Around his tomb, you will find the graves of Henry III, who built the current church, Henry V and Catherine of Valois, Edward III and Philippa of Hainault, Edward I and Eleanor of Castile and Richard II and Anne of Bohemia.  Another queen, Matilda of Scotland, first wife of King Henry I is buried here.  Most of these graves have fine effigies.

Anne of Cleves is buried in the Sacrarium, just below the High Altar to the south.  Her tomb is a little hard to see.  You can ask a verger or guide to point it out to you.  Anne Neville, wife of Richard III is also buried in this area.

HenryVIITomb

Effigies of Elizabeth of York and King Henry VII in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey

 

For Tudor graves, the Lady Chapel, built by King Henry VII is a treasure trove.  There are three areas to this pantheon.  The main chapel has the magnificent effigies of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, designed by Pietro Torrigiano.  The effigies are surrounded by a grille and all of this covers a large vault where Henry VII, Elizabeth of York and James I are buried.  In the same area is the grave of Edward VI.  There is no monument for Edward, only a plaque in the floor.   Also buried here is Anne, the last Stuart Queen.

bodies of Henry VII James I

Drawing of the bodies of King Henry VII, Elizabeth of York and James I from the vault in the Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey by George Sharff

 

One the south side of the Lady Chapel are several Tudor graves.  This is where Mary Queen of Scots was re-interred.  You will also find the graves of Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII’s mother and Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, the daughter of Margaret Tudor.  Margaret Douglas’ son Henry, Lord Darnley was the second husband of Mary Queen of Scots and her grand-daughter Arbella Stuart is also buried here.  Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset, second wife of Edward Seymour is buried in this area in a magnificent tomb.

In the Triforium of the Lady Chapel, to the north, you will find more Tudor graves.  It is here that Queen Elizabeth I is buried on top of the grave of her half-sister Queen Mary I.  This tomb has a wonderful marble effigy of Elizabeth I.  In this same area you will find the grave of King Charles II.  And most interesting is an urn, designed by Sir Christopher Wren along the wall.

 

princes-in-the-tower-urn

Urn in Westminster Abbey with the remains of two children (photo from the Murrey and Blue website)

 

In 1674, some bones of two children were found during renovations of the White Tower in the Tower of London.  It was believed by Charles II and others that these were the bones of the missing princes, King Edward V and Richard, Duke of York.  The bones were first interred in the tomb of General Monck.  After the urn was finished, it was placed in this chapel in 1675.  Queen Mary II and King William III are also buried here.

If you plan to visit Westminster Abbey, I highly recommend paying 5 pounds extra to see the newly opened museum upstairs in the cathedral.  A special staircase and elevator were built for entry.  The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries has many funeral effigies and precious items from throughout the Abbey’s history.  You can see a book and a chest that belonged to Margaret Beaufort.  No pictures are allowed in the Abbey or the Galleries.

St-Peter-Ad-Vincula (1)

Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula (Attribution en:User:MattHucke of http://www.graveyards.com)

 

To visit the site where Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were buried, you must pay for entrance to the Tower of London and visit the church of St. Peter ad Vincula.  Access to the church is limited and no photos can be taken.  Many other Tudor personalities were buried here.  John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Sir Thomas More, George Boleyn, Jane Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, Thomas Seymour, Edward Seymour, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, Jane Grey and her father Henry Grey, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex.

st__georges_chapel_windsor_castle_11

St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

 

Another place to visit royal graves is St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle.  You must pay to enter the Castle.  If you are lucky, or you are part of a guided tour, you can enter the Chapel.  I’ve had reports from friends that the chapel was closed to visitors.  Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville are buried here.  The grave of King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour is in a vault under the quire.  The unfortunate Charles I is in the same vault.  The grave of some of Queen Victoria’s family are here as well as the current Queen’s parents.  Also on the grounds of Windsor Castle is the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore.  Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Victoria’s mother and many of Victoria’s children are buried here.  Access is limited to a few days a year.

Sudeley Chapel

Chapel at Sudeley Castle where Katherine Parr’s remains are buried (Photo copyright of The Freelance History Writer)

To see Katherine Parr’s grave site, you must travel to Sudeley Castle and pay to enter the castle which is privately owned.  The Castle is in Cheltenham Spa, a direct train ride from Paddington station, about two and a half hours north of London and a taxi is needed to reach the grounds, about a fifteen-minute ride.  Katherine’s remains are in the small chapel in the gardens.

Royal Tombs in Westminster Abbey 

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries in Westminster Abbey 

Royal Burials in St. George’s Chapel

Tudors Buried in the Chapel of St. Peter Ad Vincula in the Tower of London

 

 

15 responses

  1. Thank you for sharing your literary tour of these amazing Tudor graves! I must go and see these places now, I don’t live too far from Westminster Abbey and I didn’t know we could pay to go and visit! It’s now on my list of things to do! 🙂

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  2. So you’ve seen all of these! Wonderful! I’m always disappointed when no photos are allowed, but I understand and respect the reasons. Years ago when I toured Westminster Abbey, I don’t think there was an admission charge. However more recently I have attended Evensong at Westminster, which was free (but limited to the area where the service was held). Evensong is also lovely and free at St. George’s at Windsor, King’s College in Cambridge, and Bath Abbey, and at any number of other British churches. It’s a beautiful and thoughtful way to end a day of sightseeing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I Continually read about the Royals and find this blog a wealth of information! If im ever able finacially to travel overseas to this Great Country my first stops will be to resting places of the Tudors, Anne Bolyne and Queen Victoria my Fav!

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  4. To HostorianRuby: I’m interested to know why you had your ticket validated,as you were there in a day when the chapel was open? Are you saying there are two visits per validated ticket or is it for those who find the chapel isn’t open on the day they visit and can return? Being from overseas I find this information helpful. Thank you.

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  5. Oh goodness! I’m glad I visited Westminster Abbey when all they had was a donation box! I understand the need to maintain the fabric of the building, yet it’s sad when one must pay to enter a house of worship. So many places to protect; so little money. St. Paul’s, too. Wonder how they keep track of who worships and who visits?

    Glad I read this before I cross the Big Water again. It’s worth the fee; I want to see them again.

    Times they are a changin’!

    Thank you for the great research, Susan, and the wonderful links!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I visited Westminster Abbey and the new galleries last week. I can also recommend paying the extra £5 to view the effigies etc. the relative quiet upstairs after the hordes of tourists making their way around the Abbey was wonderful!
    I also visited Windsor Castle and St George’s Chapel was open to the public. It was closed for a few days in the run-up to May’s royal wedding, but I was there on the Monday of that week and it was open. The Chapel is usually open unless it is a Sunday or a specific service is to be held. For your readers’ information: I was able to re-use my ticket (bought in May) for free entry as I’d had my ticket validated on the day of my visit. You can do this anytime in the ensuing 12 months after your initial visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this blog post! Right up my alley. I’ll bet you had a wonderful time tracking all of these down. The hunt is usually the best part. Too bad there were so many restrictions on taking photos. STEW

    Liked by 1 person

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