Bringing Tudor Tenby to life

Sitting by the fireplace in the kitchen
The Tudor Merchant's House Kitchen fireplace National Trust / Chris Lacey

Until now the Tudor Merchant's House has been decorated and furnished to show the house through different periods of time, but we're now going to show it as it may have looked in Tenby's heyday.

Wars of the Roses and King Henry Vll

The year 1500 was a very exciting time for Tenby. The port had a busy sea trade with the West Country and Spain and Portugal. After the Lancastrians won the Wars of the Roses in 1485, Henry Tudor became Henry VII of England. Henry's uncle, the influential Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, had his power base in Pembrokeshire. He'd invested heavily in fortifying Tenby's defensive walls in the 1450s against Yorkist attacks.

The merchant and his family

At this time, the merchant who lived here in Tenby would probably have had a shop at the front of the house. It would've opened onto the street, selling goods such as wool cloth, sea coal, vinegar, pots and spices - all traded through the port.
At the back of the house would've been a kitchen centred around a large open fire. The family would've lived mainly on the first floor and slept in the bedroom above.

The restoration project

To help develop this project we commissioned Dr Charles Kightly, an expert in historic interiors, to produce some proposals for the house.
His recommendations included:
  • Bringing in brightly painted replica Tudor furniture
  • Hanging the walls with coloured cloth
  • Selling goods which may have been sold by the Tudor merchant
  • Sprucing up the garden to fill it with useful Tudor herbs
  • Decorating the house with items which would've been used by a Tudor family

A living house

All this work now shows visitors what family life in Tudor Tenby looked like. Our house staff and volunteers offer activities based around 15th century life including dressing in Tudor costume, working with children from local schools and hosting traditional Tudor events.