Q and A

Is Sir Thomas More buried in Chelsea Old church and is his head buried in the same place?

The tomb of sir/Saint Thomas more is situated in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula (in English this means: ‘Saint Peter in chains’) within the walls of the Tower of London. His tomb is not open to the public and is behind a closed door in the chapel.

Site of scaffold at Tower Hill where More was executed by decapitation

More’s body was originally taken to the nearby church of All Hallows, but his tomb was moved after the church was bombed during the second world war.

Reconstruction of ‘All Hallows by the Tower’ during 1955, after extensive damage in the Blitz.
Inside All Hallows by the Tower today

Photograph of Thomas Mores  tomb, which is not open to the public: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6848/thomas-more

According to the ‘Chelsea Old Church website’ Sir Thomas attended this church rebuilt a chapel on the South in 1528, as his own private Chapel. This is why his statue is outside of the building and the church is associated with him:


According to legend More’s daughter Margaret rescued the severed head from its pike.  (Thomas Edward Bridgett (1891). Life and Writings of Sir Thomas More: Lord Chancellor of England and Martyr Under Henry VIII. Burns & Oates. p. 436.)

The head is believed to rest in the Roper Vault of St Dunstan’s Church, Canterbury, “Journal of the British Archaeological Association”. 1. British Archaeological Association. 1895: 142–144.

Did women have their heads displayed on a spikes on London Bridge?

Yes: Elizabeth Barton: ‘The maid of Kent’s’ head was put on display. She was hanged and decapitated in 1533 for prophesying Henry VIII’s death if he married Anne Boleyn.

Old London Bridge: Notice the heads on spikes in the foreground…


Tower Bridge (above) is often mistaken for London Bridge which is further upstream. There are 33 bridges across the tidal Thames from Teddington Lock to the open sea. In Tudor times there was only London bridge.


Did the Tudors really play football?

The Tudors played a much rougher game than we play today. It was often played on holy days.  The goals could be three miles apart. The number of players was unlimited and although it sounds like tremendous fun in the 16th century more people died playing football than during sword-fighting. Seven footballers were killed during matches in English villages between 1500 and 1575. Some of these large games are still played for fun in villages on bank holidays up and down the country.

What did a lady in waiting actually do?

Ladies in waiting attended on the Queen and were expected to perform mundane duties for her. These were tasks such as passing on messages, helping her to bathe, dress and to keep her company whilst sewing. During the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth  ladies in waiting became far more important because men could not perform these personal roles for a female monarch. These women had direct daily contact with the Queen and knew her intimate secrets. Eg: If she was pregnant or not. Ambassadors would pay a premium for this information from a disloyal women attendants. Other members of the court who wanted to influence the Queen could approach a Lady in waiting and pay her to talk to the Queen about a promotion they might want or something they wished to draw her attention to. To be a lady in waiting was the highest office a 16 century female could hope to achieve and could be lucrative if they were open to bribes.

Were women tortured in the Tower as well as men?

Officially, only one woman was tortured: Anne Askew.

Was Anne Boleyn guilty of adultery?

Even if Anne had slept with a thousand men she was not technically guilty of adultery because three days before her execution Anne’s marriage to Henry was annulled. Therefore Anne had never been officially married to Henry VIII. Some historians believe it’s possible that Anne was guilty and others believe she that she was innocent. Most think she was innocent.

Tower Green
Tower of London, Brian Catling, 2006, Tower Green. The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula and, in the foreground the execution site memorial

Were the Tudors Welsh?

Yes, but they were also a French family. The Tudors were certainly extremely proud of their Welsh roots and had a Welsh dragon on their Royal coat of arms. Henry VII was a quarter Welsh through his paternal grandfather Owen Tudor, who signed his name, ‘Owen ap Maredudd’, but his wife, Catherine of Valois was French. Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII’s mother, came from a long bloodline of French families.

The King's Beasts
Hampton Court Palace, James Brittain, The King’s Beasts. The Red Cadwaladr Dragon of Wales, in the garden of Chapel Court.

Were Tudors much smaller than we are today?

If you have ever bashed your head on a low cottage door or beam it may make you wonder if our ancestors were smaller than we are. Archaeologists have found that the average Tudor male was 5 foot 5 inches which is the average height of an English woman today.

Royal arms of Mary Queen of Scots whose life and death was closely linked with the Tudors

Was Scotland an independent nation in Tudor times?

Yes and so was England. We became British when the Scots King became King of England after Elizabeth I died. He was James I of England and also King James VI of Scotland.

This is the same King who was made famous by his ‘King James Bible.’ he was also the son of Mary Queen of Scots.

James was the first King to call our islands ‘Britain’ and to combine our flags in 1606.

England’s flag: named St.George’s cross is a red cross, Scotland’s flag: named St. Andrew’s flag is white and blue:  A White and red diagonal cross added later for Ireland… (Named St. Patrick’s flag) Wales is not represented on the British flag
A version of the Union Jack which includes the dragon of Wales
a group of Scots in 1606 wanted this version of the Union flag… Note Scots flag on top.

The UK is made up of Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and many small islands. We all have British Passports and many Brits have very strong political feelings about the Union, it’s flag and the unique heritage of each part of the UK.



Did Henry VIII have syphilis?

All of Henry’s medical notes are archived and he was never treated with mercury which was the standard treatment for syphilis. So no.

Was Mary I of England Queen of Spain after her marriage to the Spanish King Philip?

Yes, ‘Bloody Mary’ was also the Queen of Spain when she married.

Was Anne Boleyn really the first Queen consort to be crowned in her own right?

Anne was the only consort male or female ever to be crowned with St. Edward’s crown which is reserved for monarchs only.

If the punishment for a woman committing treason was hanging or burning then why were two of Henry’s wives beheaded instead?

The execution of a queen is shocking. Especially Anne Boleyn who had been crowned with St. Edward’s crown and who Henry had risked so much to marry. No English queen before Anne had ever been executed. It is likely that Henry did not want a spectacle. Beheading had been reserved for Noblemen but after Anne noble women were beheaded too. Henry would not want his wives to be burned as the first thing to burn away is the victim’s clothes leaving them naked. hanging was reserved for commoners.

Why was Mark Smeaton beheaded if he was a commoner?

No one knows for certain…  Did Henry just want the whole Anne Boleyn thing finished quickly or was a promise made to Smeaton in exchange for something? Beheading was certainly more preferable to being hung, drawn and quartered and it could suggest that’s why he pleaded guilty to having committed adultery with his queen.

Why was there a dog on the Mary Rose?

Hatch is the oldest sea dog ever found. She was a ‘ratter’ and spent her whole life on the ship. Tudors were a superstitious bunch and it was considered unlucky to have a cat on a ship.

Link to the Mary Rose online shop: http://maryrose.secure-basket.com


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