Historic entertainers Past Times Living History are bringing history to life on Sunday 27th and Monday 28th August with ‘Tudor Matchmaking’ themed performances throughout the day, that are sure to entertain and delight! Ahead of this medieval merriment, we took the opportunity to catch up with Past Times Living History’s founder Elizabeth MacPherson and find out what it’s all about…
Tell us a little about how Past Times Living History started…
My love of history stems from childhood, particularly the Tudor Era! All down to my late Mum, she was such a fan that with her first 2 daughters she managed to utilise Henry’s Mother & Daughter’s names and ALL six wives! But the catalyst for turning this love into a career came by accident. My theme for our wedding in 2010 was a no brainer… TUDOR! So armed and dangerous with a gown, I set about wearing it… often! Probably the only bride that can claim to have worn her wedding dress hundreds of times! Fast forward to 2015 and Past-Times Living History was born.
What can visitors expect from the performances at Ludlow Castle?
Entertainment, engagement and education! The show we are performing at Ludlow Castle this August Bank Holiday has a lot of laughs and many will recognise the inspiration. It is unique and original, a fresh and fun interpretation of the age-old story of Henry VIII and his Six Wives. Despite all the fun and laughter, every show I pen MUST be historically accurate. This is education by stealth! We intersperse our performances with lots of opportunities to engage with visitors, so whilst we deliver a theatrical performance, unlike the theatre, we are fully accessible. So please don’t be shy come say hi.
What kind of research and preparation goes into creating an authentic representation of the characters?
Lots and painstaking – the cast all invest heavily in researching and fully embodying their characters. Finding out the nuances of what made them tick and having those fascinating and often little-known gems to wow our audiences. But what is equally important is how the characters would have crossed paths with the other characters being portrayed. This can make for some interesting exchanges – especially among Henry’s wives!
Your costumes look exquisite – how do you go about recreating the period accurately?
We are incredibly fortunate in having the amazing resource that is The Tudor Tailor. Ninya Mikhaila & Jane Malcolm have extensively researched what the Tudors would have worn, how they made their garb and from what fabrics. There are other resources available, simply by studying contemporary portraits we can get a very clear idea of what we are doing. With a couple of exceptions, the cast create their own stunning costumes. Between us we have a vast wardrobe and could give the wardrobe departments of many period drama’s a run for their money!
Are there any lesser-known or surprising facts about King Henry VIII and his wives that you can share with us?
- Everyone knows Henry liked playing sport in his younger days, but many will be surprised to learn one of his favourite things to do was… Pole Vaulting (please ask him about it when you see him!)
- Katherine Parr was the 1st published female author and was named after her Godmother… Katherine of Aragon!
- Anne Boleyn’s great-grandfather was a humble merchant, a hatter by trade.
- Jane Seymour almost married William Dormer, but William’s mother cancelled their engagement because she thought Jane wasn’t noble enough. I guess she showed her how wrong she was.
- Anna Von Kleve was the real ‘survivor’, she outlived Henry and the other 5.
- Kathryn Howard – despite aristocratic ancestry, her father had a gambling habit and the family had little money.
Henry VIII’s older brother Prince Arthur, famously lived his last days at Ludlow Castle – passing away at the age of 15. How different would life have been for people living in 16th Century England if he had lived and gone on to become king instead of Henry?
That is a tough question, full of ‘what-ifs’ and with huge ripple effects, not just for England but for Europe. But let’s hypothesize that he and Katherine had a long and happy marriage with at least and heir and a spare… England would not have split with Rome and would have remained a Catholic country. We perhaps would not have spent our time fighting the French and Spanish The 100,000 people that between Henry, Edward, Mary & Elizabeth would have lived .. for the record Bloody Mary as she was unfairly labelled was responsible for only around 500! And the Stuart dynasty may never have rule in England? Oh, and no one would have heard of Henry VIII nor his Six Wives and Past-Times Living History cast would all be at home!
If you were able to travel back in time for a day to visit a particular era or person, when/who would it be, and why?
Another incredibly difficult to answer question as there are so many I would have loved to get to know. But, it I have to choose one person, it would have to be one of the amazing strong women I portray… to meet Margaret Beaufort. She has been demonised so much that no-one sees the incredible woman she was nor all the good she did. But a close second .. to be the ’BFF’ of a certain Spanish Princess in November 1501 so that I would know for certain just how ‘close’ she and her bridegroom Arthur actually were…
Thanks Elle, we can’t wait to meet Henry and his wives this August Bank Holiday! You can find out more about Past-Times Living History on their website, including meeting the cast.
Full details of our Tudor Matchmaking event can be found on our Events Page.