Looking for things to do in London? Vacations can get very expensive, especially if you’re not from England and the conversion rate is not in your favor! Although some paid attractions are definitely worth the fee, like admission to castles like the Tower of London, specialized tour groups, or plays near Piccadilly Circus, there are many free London attractions that will make your holiday budget more manageable.
Here are six free things to do in London that are rich in Tudor history:
1. Westminster Abbey
Although Westminster Abbey does collect fees for the visitors and their audio tours, you can still see the inside of the Abbey for free if you attend the worshipping services that are open to the public. Even if you’re not religious, it’s worth the experience; the choir is very talented, and you can literally feel the history of that place. Evensong is at 5pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Then, you can wander over to King Henry VI’s chapel and see the tombs of Henry VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth I, and Queen Mary I.
2. National Portrait Gallery
Located in Trafalgar Square next to the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery is a recommended attraction for anyone interested in Tudor history. The Tudor portraits include those of Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Mary I, King Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York, Queen Mary of Scotts, and members of Queen Elizabeth’s court. The National Portrait Gallery is completely free of charge, and you can find descriptions of the Tudor Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery’s website.
3. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is an enormous and beautiful park in West London that King Henry VIII used to love to go riding and hunting. While you’re there, you can also visit the Princess Diana memorial.
4. Museum of London
The Museum of London is free, and has a Tudor and Stuart collection that offers many artifacts from the Tudor period of England. This will provide a look into the culture of the time. You can find out more about what is available from the Tudor period at the Museum of London website.
5.Cross the Tower Bridge to the Tower of London
Walk across the Tower Bridge for spectacular views of the Tower of London, where several members of the Tudor family were held prisoner or executed. Once you reach the Tower of London side of the bridge, walk along the river and pass Traitor’s Gate, where Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard arrived at the Tower before their beheadings.
6. National Gallery
The National Gallery is free to the public, and is located in Trafalgar Square. It offers many paintings from the Tudor period. One must-see piece is The Execution of Lady Jane Grey. The painting shows the moments before Jane’s beheading at the Tower of London. Lady Jane Grey was executed at just 16 years old after her parents and advisors forced her to claim the throne after her cousin King Edward VI’s death. According to legend, once she was blindfolded she reached out for the execution block but could not find it, and started to panic. In this painting, a lieutenant of the Tower, Sir John Bridges, guides her hands toward the block, which the executioner patiently waits and her ladies cry in the background. It’s a very touching painting, and definitely worth seeing in person.
The Execution of Lady Jane Grey at the National Gallery
What are your favorite Tudor things to do in London?