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Christmas at the Tudor Merchant’s House

The Christmas table set for a Tudor Christmas at the Tudor Merchant’s House Tenby
Tudor Christmas table, the Tudor merchants House, Tenby, Pembrokeshire | © National Trust / Sue Jones

Enjoy a Christmas visit to the small but perfectly formed Tudor Merchants house, a unique building in the heart of historic Georgian Tenby.

Visit on
Friday 29th and Saturday 30th November or
Friday 6th and Saturday 7th December or
Friday 13th and Saturday 14th December
from 11 am to (last entry at 2.30pm.

Booking is not required.
Please note: due to its small size we are only able to allow 30 people into the house at any one time.

What is Christmas at the Tudor Merchant’s House?

Two of the three floors will be decorated with natural evergreens similar to how we believe a wealthy Tudor family would have decorated their home. The Christmas table will be made up with the kind of foods eaten at the time and the “Lord of Misrule” will be on hand to give a Tudor toy to every child visiting.

Christmas in Tudor times

Did you know many of our Christmas traditions were started by the Tudors? The Tudors were well known for liking a party, and Henry V111 was infamous for his expensive and lavish tastes.

During the winter, life in Tudor times would have been cold and dark and after a hard year of toil wealthy and working-class families would be ready to celebrate their faith in a family environment.

Christmas Decorations

Although Christmas trees were around in the 16th Century in the Baltic and north Germany, the Tudors would not have had them. Instead they would have decorated their houses with natural evergreens like ivy, holly, laurel and mistletoe and they would have done their decorating on Christmas eve.

Christmas Gifts.

Gifts were given on New Year and would have included items like short poems, or an item of clothing in wealthy homes.

Christmas Customs.

Christmas was quite a long festival taking place over 12 days. Everyone taking a break from work would visit friends and the season was seen very much as a community celebration. The 12 days were actually saint days with the most important being the 25th December, and the 1st and 6th January when the biggest feasts were held.The Lord of Misrule supervised the revelry and was charged with managing unruly events like drinking, role reversal and general chaos.

Christmas food and Fasting

This was a time of serious feasting and included meat like swan, goose and turkey as well as venison peacock and of course wild boar.

Other traditions included pantomimes, carol singing and drinking too much and so on the 12 days over Christmas celebrations, at the Tudor Court and possibly in a rich merchant’s house were filled with light, laughter and feasting.

View of a Tenby street and the harbour
Tenby street near Tudor merchant's House, Tenby | © National Trust / James Dobson

Christmas in Tenby

Settled as early as the 9th century and with well-preserved medieval town walls, Tenby is a very beautiful and iconic seaside town that became popular as a resort during Georgian and Victorian times. Christmas is a lovely time to visit the town for a spot of Christmas shopping whilst exploring some of the ancient narrow streets. Tenby has lovely beaches as well and walking along the shore on a sharp winter’s day is the perfect way to blow away the cobwebs and enjoy the coast.

Pembrokeshire during Christmas

Pembrokeshire is equally beautiful in Winter as it is in spring and summer. There are many places to discover on a visit at this time of year, from the Stackpole Estate with its award-winning beaches and Grade 1 listed landscape, to exploring the St Davids peninsula in North Pembrokeshire and visiting some of its many little harbours like Solva or Porthclais. If you’re hardy and brave you could even take a dip in the Irish sea or try surfing! Be sure to wrap up warm in a wetsuit if this is new to you.

View of Powis Castle, perched above its terraced gardens, Powys, Wales, in autumn.

Discover more in Wales

A Celtic land with an industrial past steeped in myth, legend, poetry and song. Croeso i Gymru.

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