George Vertue’s Members of the Tudor Court

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I’ve been doing lots of work on Tudor portraiture recently, and it’s taken me back to my days at Sudeley Castle. In one of the Castle corridors, aptly named The Vertue Corridor, are thirty-three hung portraits of members of the Tudor court by George Vertue. The originals, now in Windsor Castle, were taken from life by Henry VIII’s court painter, Hans Holbein. Holbein drew at least eighty members of the court, and over the centuries these have been lost and found and re-mounted on several occasions. The identities of the sitters have been the cause of much controversy, and some of them are still unidentified.

June 2016

ICrown_Tweaked. Website‘ve spent most of May buried deep in editing Crown of Blood, and the book is now starting to take its final shape – exciting! You may have seen that the UK jacket cover has been unveiled, and I think it’s gorgeous! Michael O’Mara books have done an amazing job. Crown of Blood also got a mention with The Bookseller on 18th May. You can read it by clicking on the link here: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/michael-o-mara-publish-debut-lady-grey-biography-330200

In celebration of the Queen’s birthday, BBC History Magazine have been running a royal week, and I was asked to write a piece about notable royal deaths throughout history. My article is available online, so please do check it out:

http://www.historyextra.com/article/anne-boleyn/royal-deaths-murder-conspiracy-execution-scandal-king-queen

 

May 2016

I’ve just returned from a ten day Richard III tour, and it was superb! We had wonderful guests, excellent sites and guides, and luckily, great weather. Our tour took us everywhere from London, to Oxford, to Stratford Upon Avon, to York, and Leicester. There are too many highlights to mention, so I thought I’d just choose a few …

The Empress Matilda

thumb_Empress_MathildaMatilda was the first woman to make a claim to the English throne in her own right: a claim which ultimately failed when it became clear that it was out of the question that a woman should rule without the authority of a man. Matilda was the only legitimate daughter of Henry I by his wife Matilda of Scotland, and her father had high hopes for her.

April 2016

I’ve been busily working on a number of projects this month – everything from talks to book proposals! From 16 -25 April I’ll be away on Alison Weir Tours Richard III tour, and I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll be starting in London, and travelling as far north as the beautiful city of York – there are lots of historical treats in store!

One of the things I’ve been studying lately is Tudor portraiture. With that in mind, I thought it would be nice to talk a little more about one of my favourite paintings.

Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House

Originally known as ‘baby houses’, the popularity of dolls’ houses increased throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, through to the twentieth century when arguably one of the most famous dolls’ houses ever was created; Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. 

March 2016

I recently took a detour through the beautiful Northamptonshire village of Ashby St Ledgers – I’d come across the village before, and it was well worth the visit.

Ashby St Ledgers is known for its connections with one family in particular: the Catesby’s. Without a doubt the most famous Catesby is Robert, the leader of the infamous Gunpowder Plot. 

February 2016

This month I’m largely preoccupied with editing Crown of Blood, but it’s exciting, and I can’t wait to share it with you all. I’m also going to be doing a talk about Lady Jane Grey’s mother later in the month – this will be the third occasion I’ve spoken about her, and I always enjoy it.

I recently completed a fantastic weekend course at the Victoria and Albert Museum in order to help with the research for my doctorate. Bedazzled was all about the history of jewellery, and covered prehistoric times right up to the present day. The periods I study are the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but learning about the periods either side really enhanced my understanding. In fact, I’m going back there at the end of the month for a study day about the history of rings, and I’m sure that that will be just as good! Jewellery history is fascinating, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in material culture to consider learning more about it. I’m also a member of the Society for Jewellery Historians, and they offer some wonderful lectures for members. One of my favourite pieces in the V and A collection has to be the Drake Jewel, which is on loan to the museum.

drake_jewel

Antonio Verrio, Heaven & Hell at Burghley House

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In 1687, the fifth Earl of Exeter commissioned Antonio Verrio to decorate six rooms at his ancestral Lincolnshire home, Burghley House.

Having been employed by the Crown for many years on a variety of commissions, including the ceilings of Charles II’s State Apartments at Windsor Castle, Verrio was amply qualified for his task at Burghley. The most famous of the decorated rooms are the Heaven Room and the Hell Staircase, some of the most important Baroque private rooms in England. 

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