Winchester turns Tudor for 2004

Press Release: 10/02/2004

Don your cod piece, grab your lute and head to Winchester to enjoy a year of special events, talks, tours, exhibitions and hands-on activities to mark the 450th wedding anniversary of Mary Tudor and Philip II of Spain.

Henry VIII’s first daughter – popularly known as ‘Bloody Mary’ – married Philip II of Spain at Winchester Cathedral on 25th July 1554, in one of the most sumptuous society events the city has ever seen.

The year’s festivities will offer a fresh look at the politics and religion, dress, music, architecture and food from the period. Winchester will also be celebrating the pomp and spectacle of the royal wedding and exploring its impact on the city, along with the coming together of two different European cultures.

The climax of the celebrations will take place in July, around the anniversary of the wedding, but the Tudor theme will run throughout the year across a number of venues. Whenever you decide to visit Winchester in 2004, there will be all manner of activities and events to look out for, including:

  • Mother’s Day with a Tudor flavour on 21st March at Winchester City Mill, Mary’s gift to the people of Winchester, which will have begun milling again for the first time in many years. Food tasting, guided tours and lessons in milling flour will be on offer. Children can also take part in a treasure hunt and search for ‘pieces of eight’ to win tasty prizes during the Easter school holidays, as part of the Spanish Treasure Hunt, April 5th to 16th.
  • The ‘Early Music Now Festival’ will be taking place over 20th, 21st and 22nd May, offering Spanish and English Renaissance music by candlelight, along with music by Bach and Vivaldi, at Winchester Cathedral and St Peter’s Church. For the most up to date information visit
  • The Marriage of England and Spain exhibition will bring together for the first time a wealth of art treasures and artefacts from the wedding. It will run from the end of June to the beginning of August at Winchester Cathedral.
  • Wedding Costume and Custom will take place from 1st to 31st August at Winchester Cathedral, affording the chance to see original wedding dresses from the last century as well as a replica of Mary Tudor’s gown.
  • The summer school holidays will get off to a start with an anniversary week at Winchester Mill, 24th July to 1st August. Tudor music, food tasting and notables from Winchester’s merchant society of Tudor times will celebrate the gift of the mill to the city in 1554. The Cathedral’s Education Centre will also be running special children’s holiday activities throughout August, including the chance to re-create the wedding with dress, ceremony, music, dance and food.
  • Basing House will be hosting a Tudor day to mark the date the wedding party arrived at the house before their return to London, on Sunday 1st August. Visitors will be invited to bring themed food, dress in period costume and join a Tudor picnic. The Armed Militia – a 16th century re-enactment group – will be on site in costume, taking part in archery and demonstrating Tudor crafts.

A series of lectures will run throughout February and March as an introduction to everything Tudor. TV Historian, Dr David Starkey, will also be speaking on 2nd July to launch the month of the wedding anniversary. See for the most up to date information.

Alternatively sign up for a ‘Mary and Philip’ Blue Badge Tourist Guide themed walk – private group tours will be available all year and cost from £40 per group. Free Tudor and wedding themed tours of the cathedral are also on offer. Alternatively, you can pick up a copy of the new family trail leaflet from Winchester Tourist Information Centre for a self-guided tour of the city’s Tudor monuments, people and places of interest.

Over the wedding weekend, 23rd to 25th July, Blue Badge Guides will be leading special evening and daytime tours around the parts of the city connected to the wedding. The evening walk traces Philip’s route into the city from the Hospital of St Cross, where participants will receive the Wayfarer’s Dole in the age-old tradition. Winchester Cathedral will also be hosting music from the period and a workshop on Sunday 25th July, the actual anniversary of the wedding day.

Another major event to coincide with the anniversary is the international textiles conference entitled Textile Cultures: Spain & England since 1500, which will be taking place at the Textile Conservation Centre at Winchester School of Art. This will examine the relationship between the two countries over the past 500 years through the medium of textiles. Visit for more information.


For more information on Winchester, see or call the Tourist Information Centre on 01962 840500.

For media information call Samantha Jones at The Saltmarsh Partnership on 020 7928 1600, email