During the 2012 Winter Term (January 3-19), Professor Tamara Coy taught a travel class called The Tudors. Three students took the class, which included a 10-day trip to England to learn firsthand about life during the Tudor period (1485-1603). This page describes their trip through updates and photos from the students’ perspective.
Phoenix Jenkins, a senior psychology major
Ashley Hatcher, a junior psychology major
Jessica Hannah, a junior vocal performance major
January 8, 2012
ON OUR WAY!!
After a long overnight flight, we finally arrived in London and checked into our hotel that afternoon. We relaxed, went through orientation and got London Underground passes for the week, along with English cellphones!
When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, he built the White Tower and fortress, which also served as a royal residence. It later became better known as a site of imprisonment and execution and home to the crown jewels.
All: We were so surprised that the Tower of London was a huge collection of buildings. We thought it was on its own, but it had a palace and lots of buildings where the Beefeaters/Yeoman Guards lived. Our Beefeater guide was great – he really liked his job!
Phoenix: It was more than I expected. I had read about the executions, but to be on the grounds and to get a sense of so much history and where these great people died was amazing. And the crown jewels were off the chain!
Ashley: For me, the Tower of London was history coming to life. It allowed me to appreciate the sacrifices people made for their beliefs.
Jessica: I’ve always heard about the Tower and wanted to see where all these people had lost their lives. It was amazing to finally see it.
Passing under London Bridge, we then walked to The Globe, a replica of William Shakespeare’s original theater. The original site is covered by another monument and cannot be excavated. The Globe Theatre in Shakespeare’s day would have been open air, and performances were in the afternoon. (Candles tended to burn places down!) Although Elizabeth I was a fan, it was James I who was a devoted patron of the arts and made Shakespeare and his company the “King’s Men,” elevating the status of theatre and having performances at court.
Shakespearean theatre was limited to a highly decorative stage and limited props. There were the ‘heavens’ in which angels and actors could drop down, and a stage trap door in which the actors could descend into the depths of hell. They had to be careful in the magical aspects and make clear that it was all make-believe — the drunken one-penny crowd who gathered in the ‘mosh pit’ of the standing area was comprised of superstitious laborers who could turn on the actors if the action seemed too real. Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus—which we read for class– must have been a terrifying specter.
Phoenix: The stage was outside and had elaborate designs on it which was like their “scenery”—very different from modern theatre and all the props they use
Ashley: I like how they did so much research to try to make it as accurate as possible. It was very insightful and educational.
Jessica: It was great that they performed plays there today true to the way they would have been performed in Shakespeare’s time. It helped me better understand some of the plays like Taming of the Shrew which we read in class, and how all the women’s parts would have been performed by men!
The castle is one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite residences (she has many houses!) and you know she is at home if the British flag is flying. Back in the 16th century, Windsor Castle was Elizabeth I’s retreat from the plague. The castle itself is over 900 years old. Only part of it is open to the public, but you can walk around the grounds and visit the beautiful St. George’s Chapel which houses the remains of Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, Charles I and others.
The decorative ceiling of St. Georges contains much of Henry VIII’s legacy, but no monument. The Chapel is setting to many famous events and home to St. George’s school which provides the Queen’s private choristers.
St. George’s houses the final resting place of numerous people, not least Henry VIII.
ALL: We were all so surprised that Henry VIII is just buried under a SLAB in the floor with Jane Seymour and Charles I (with his head!) and a bunch of rubble on top of the coffins, which have “shoulders.” The chaplain showed us a picture from the 19th century when they opened the tomb — it’s just a hole with the coffins there under lots of stones that have fallen on top. The coffins are wood with lead lining, but it is nothing special. Everyone just walks over Henry VIII and there are all these other tombs and monuments of people we’ve never even heard of that have gorgeous statues. And he’s just under a slab! All those executions — karma will get you!
Jessica: I finally saw where King Henry VIII was buried along with his favorite wife — she gave him King Edward — Jane Seymour. It was amazing to me that a king who left such a legacy is just buried under a plain marble slab. You can see his crest and the Tudor rose throughout the Chapel. And there is a seat where Henry sat when he was Duke of York.
Phoenix: Looking at Henry’s marble slab made me realize you treat people how you want to be remembered. It was crazy because we also got to see the words of his will. He had expected an elaborate tomb. I just can’t get over how he didn’t get the proper respect.
And then after we left the castle, I did what any royal female would do — we went SHOPPING!
Ashley: It’s hard to fathom that the castle serves as a home as well. The gardens were beautiful and green, like a postcard. History came alive for me within St. George’s Chapel. So many people are buried there. It was great when a man that worked there showed us the picture of what is beneath the floor of Henry’s slab. Four coffins have Henry, Jane Seymour, Queen Anne’s infant and Charles I.
We finished the day with a quick stop to see the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House!
Although no Tudors are in Paris, the temptation to visit the beautiful city — which is only four hours away — was too great. Bonjour France!!!