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Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith

Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith Image

In 1521 Henry VIII was declared Defender of the Faith (Fidei Defensor) by Pope Leo 10th. History sees Henry as a tyrant and a bully yet to this day, Britain celebrates the Pope’s pronouncement by inscribing Fid Def or F.D. on every coin. Henry VIII was also a builder, philosopher, musician, linguist, and international sports superstar of his age. A Renaissance Prince when young, his divorces and subsequent orders to send two of his wives to the executioner’s block made him the most notorious King that England has ever witnessed.

In this 8 nights, 9 day fully escorted tour finds the real Henry through a Grand Progress of Southern England. We visit his boyhood home to explore the loving, intensive upbringing that made him a Renaissance Prince. We see his palaces, castles and inns, sampling the life of Tudor times on the way. And we seek out the events that changed him into the bloated tyrant that he became.


All the hotels are specially chosen for their historic importance and character. They are Historic hotels with character, charm and some old Coaching Inns that have retained their historic character with low oak beams, uneven floors and some still have their big fireplaces. All rooms have en-suite facilities.

Costs include transport during the tour, entrance fees to heritage sites, attractions and activities, bed and breakfast at the hotels and a seasonal performance at the Globe theatre in London.

Please note that centuries old castles and houses were not built with lifts and escalators. Some have many steps and restricted access points. Some of the old inns at which we stay do not have lifts either.  Please ask us about any mobility issues, if you have any of these considerations as we can provide an honest assessment of all of the places we visit and hotels we use.

Tour Itinerary
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9
Day 1 - Eltham Palace and the Tower of London

We visit Eltham Palace, Henry VIII’s boyhood home. Then we travel by Thames River boat to the Tower of London.  We see Traitor’s Gate as Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard would have done on their way to custody in the Tower.

The Tower of London is over 1,000 years old, steeped in the nation’s history and the scene of some of the bloodiest events during the Tudor period. It is the execution site of two of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith Itinerary Day 1 Image
Day 2 Canterbury

We head off to visit Canterbury where the skyline is dominated by its stunning Cathedral, the oldest in England. We also see St Augstine's Abbey ruins, a Benedictine monastery until destroyed in the dissolution.  A UNESCO World Heritage site, it has been a place of pilgrimage for over a thousand years.  It’s medieval streets tell the tales of centuries of trade as a wealthy port.


Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith Itinerary Day 2 Image
Day 3 - Dover and Deal castles

We leave London to visit Henry’s premier fortress, Dover Castle in Kent situated high on the cliffs and the defensive Cinque port, Deal Castle. 

Here Henry left England for his glorious trip to France and the Field of Cloth of Gold, and later watched as construction of his coastal defences went apace following Henry’s excommunication.  The magnificent Keep has been set out for the times of Henry II with state rooms, bedchamber, guest rooms and halls together with kitchen, bakery and brewery in the basement.  With smoke from real log fires, you are easily transported back to the 1180's and the court of Henry II.  

Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith Itinerary Day 3 Image
Day 4 - Leeds Castle and Knole Place

Leeds Castle is promoted as being the most beautiful castle in England. There has been a castle on the site since 1119. It came into the hands of King Edward I and in the 16th century became the dwelling place for Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The castle today dates mostly from the 19th century.

Then we visit Knole Place built as an archbishop’s palace over 600 years ago. Knole passed through royalty to the Sackville family who still live there today.  With over 1,000 acres this is the one of the largest manor houses in England with the only medieval deer park in the country


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Day 5 - Hever Castle and Penshurst Place

We travel through the English countryside to the beautiful home of the Boleyn family, Hever castle which saw the love story of the age that led to divorce, excommunication and the threat of war.  Both of the Boleyn sisters were lovers of the King.  It took Anne seven years to achieve her aim to become Queen and change forever Henry’s position and the course of English history.

We then visit Penshurst Place an important house in Kent and very close to Hever. It was once owned by the Duke of Buckingham until executed by Henry VIII.

Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith Itinerary Day 5 Image
Day 6 - The Mary Rose and Southsea

Southsea Castle on the island city of Portsmouth in Hampshire, we stand in the same place where Henry stood, watching the battle  as the Mary Rose, his flagship, foundered in the Solent with the loss of 800 lives.  Only a mile distance away is the Historic Royal Naval Dockyard where we can relive that moment at the Mary Rose museum and handle artefacts brought up from the seabed. Centuries of Naval history are on display here with Nelson’s flagship Victory and other historic naval treasures.

We finish with a meal at an old tavern dating from 1700 overlooking the mouth of this busy harbour.

Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith Itinerary Day 6 Image
Day 7 - Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace, taken from Cardinal Wolsey by Henry VIII. The Tudor building has been wonderfully conserved, a celebration of Henry’s accession to the throne over 500 years ago. During the season there are special  events. We may be fortunate to be there when they fire up the huge kitchens and recreate the meals that would have been served during the Tudor period or be guests at one of Henry’s wedding parties. 

Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith Itinerary Day 7 Image
Day 8 - Windsor Castle

We head off to see  the largest and oldest occupied castle in Europe at Windsor. Still home to our present Sovereign we should arrive to see the Changing of the Guard and then spend time in the Glorious State Apartments. We can visit St George’s Chapel where we see Henry’s grave and that of his beloved wife Jane Seymour who gave him a male heir. You may attend evensong in the Chapel if you wish.

Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith Itinerary Day 8 Image
Day 9 - Farewell

After a leisurely breakfast we arrange transport back to a London mainline railway station or London airport if agreed when booking. For those who have later journeys, we can arrange additional trips to historic sites in and around London if these have been agreed prior to arrival.

Henry VIII: Defender of the Faith Itinerary Day 9 Image
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From £4188.00*

* All prices are per person, based on two people sharing a double, or twin room. A 20% supplement applies to all solo bookings.

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Tour Dates

There are no dates available for this tour. For more information, call us on +44 (0)1323 844845 or send us a message.

What's Included

Visit 17 historic sites:

  • Hever Castle, Tower of London, Eltham Palace, Dover Castle, Deal Castle Penshurst Place, The Mary Rose & Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, & Southsea Castle, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, Knowle Place, Canterbury, Leeds Castle, Shakepeare's Globe
  • All entry fees
  • Bed & breakfast accommodation
  • All tour transport

Personalised History Tours

We can cater for small family groups or individuals and provide a unique Royal Progress Tour to suit any requirements, or design an independent itinerary. Our speciality is the Tudor period but we can organise any tour or even days out of London that will satisfy everyone in the family. We've mixed Henry VIII and Jane Austen, Roman Britain and Harry Potter.  With Tudor History Tours you can sit back and enjoy and let us plan the details.

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  • 'This tour was so much fun and I definitely would consider doing something like this again. I learnt so much!'

    Adrienne Savoldi, Pittsberg, Pensylvania
  • 'Overall we were extremely pleased with the preparation, attentiveness of Steve before and during our time in England.'

    Lilian Perotto, Toronto, Canada
  • 'The group had diverse interests and our guide was able to meet the needs of everyone.'

    Marcy Caplin, Cleveland, Ohio
  • 'Atmosphere was everywhere and if you are at all interested in history, this tour is a must. You will never find another quite like it.'

    Barbara Goodall, British Columbia, Canada
  • 'I feel like I have a lifelong tour guide when coming to London. The entire experience was exceptional.'

    Annette Bloom, California
  • 'Steve was great at personalising the tour and enthusiastic. All the places were very interesting, each in their own way.'

    Karen Yell, New York
  • 'The entire agenda was planned out well with careful research and attention to detail. This tour fully realised my objectives for this trip.'

    Jeanne Mangemilli, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
  • 'What a memorable, magical tour through Tudor England. It exceeded all expectations - and I have pretty high expectations!'

    Bonnie Scott, Seattle, USA
  • 'Steve is wonderful! Kind, thoughtful, patient, really nice to be with, so knowledgeable. A pleasure.'

    Sarah Moldenhauer-Salazar, San Francisco
  • 'We could not have asked for a better host. Steve was knowledgeable adding perspective and amazing insight.'

    Jim and Debbie Trumbley, BC, Canada
  • 'Just excellent. Can’t wait to come back and do another visit. I travel a lot and it’s such a better experience with a knowledgeable guide.'

    Vicki, California, USA
  • 'I think the whole thing is JUST GREAT! You've included most of the "must see" places for England.'

    Jackie Jenkins, Atlanta, USA
  • 'Steve was constantly striving to give us the best experience possible. Very personable and knowledgeable.'

    Janet Storm, North Carolina, USA
  • 'I just wanted to say what a fabulous trip we had! Truly the best trip I have ever taken. I would go with Tudor History Tours in a heartbeat.'

    Cathy Cole, Michigan

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