Bringing Tudor Tenby to life

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We've looked after the Tudor Merchant's House in Tenby for nearly 75 years. Now,  to commemorate this anniversary, we're returning the interior to the way it may have looked in 1500. Come and see its new look for yourself.

Until now the Tudor Merchant’s House has been decorated and furnished to show the house through different periods of time. But 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 will hopefully show visitors what family life in Tudor Tenby looked like. But this is only part of the story. In the future, once the project is complete, our house staff and volunteers plan to offer activities based around Tudor life. This could mean dressing in Tudor costume, working with children from local schools and hosting events based on Tudor times.

The restored ground floor - now open

Over this winter, staff have been busy with Dr Kightly, working on re-presenting the ground floor. You can now come and take a look for yourself. In the winter months of 2011 and 2012 work will begin on transforming the first and second floors.