Tudor Mass audio illusion unveiled at The Vyne

An audio illusion that brings to life the sounds of a Tudor Lady Mass has been unveiled at The Vyne, where Henry VIII would have heard it almost 500 years ago. This unique National Trust soundscape immerses listeners in the prayers, chants, even movements of choristers and clergy.

You’ll hear the subtle change in volume of the priest’s voice as he turns from the altar, the clink of the thurible chain as incense is blessed, even the faint rustle of clothing. These details have been captured to enhance the sense of reality in The Vyne’s 16th-century chapel.

The Vyne's Tudor Mass experience even picks up the sounds of the incense being blessed
Man holds a silver incense holder in front of a recorder

This is the first time a ‘soundscape’ of the Lady Mass – in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary - has been created as Henry VIII would have known it. It features 16th-century composer Nicholas Ludford’s elaborate polyphonic music for boys’ voices.  

The installation is just one of the new experiences we’re revealing at this former Tudor ‘power house’ whilst it undergoes a £5.4 million project to repair its leaking roof and crumbling chimneys.  

Images of courtiers on a medieval tapestry

Discover more stories at The Vyne 

We’re shining a spotlight on some intriguing stories this year. Find out about the visit of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and discover how a Victorian family saved The Vyne from destruction.

General Manager Stuart Maughan explains: ‘Whilst our first floor is closed to protect it from the roof’s intensive building works, we wanted to give our visitors a really thought-provoking new experience.

‘We’ve worked with leading academic experts in medieval liturgy, music, and early modern history to breathe life back into this momentous period in The Vyne’s history.’

To deepen the soundscape’s sense of authenticity the men’s and boys’ voices and the organ were all recorded separately, in different locations. Each part could then be played through loudspeakers positioned around the chapel, in locations matching the original performance. 

Music scholars recorded part of the soundscape at Corpus Christi Chapel, Oxford
Adult choristers singing around microphones in church

Doctor Lucy Kaufman, a historian from Keble College Oxford, has advised on the project. ‘The chapel soundscape is an integral part of the wider story we're telling here - about Henry VIII's Royal Progress to The Vyne in 1535. This brief moment in history is so important in terms of understanding how Britain came to be the country it is today.'

These newly presented interiors are on show at The Vyne throughout 2017. 

Note: timed tickets are in operation in the house from 12 - 4pm. Please check our opening times for further information.