We have joined forces with Exeter University, Historic Royal Palaces and Powderham Castle for an exciting experiment in heritage interpretation. 

Hosting Henry VIII 

In 1533, owners of West Horsley Place,  Henry & Gertrude Courtenay, Marquis and Marchioness of Exeter, invited King Henry VIII to stay. Archival sources reveal preparations for such an occasion. Even the menu from the banquet itself has been preserved. 

Now, 500 years on, this Tudor country house party will be reimagined in the very same location. Researchers from Historic Royal Palaces and Exeter University are collaborating with experts in historic cuisine, crafts and pastimes to recreate dishes from the banquet, clothing and accessories displayed by the Courtenays and the entertainment provided for their VIP guest.

Hosting Henry VIII will be a Tudor festival like no other, full of living history, food and fun for the whole family. Visitors will be able to reach-out-and-touch living history with specialists on site to conjure up Tudor food, clothing, jewellery, weaponry, and entertainments including music, archery and hawking. Explore our ancient manor house, watch authentic jousting and falconry displays, try out Tudor dancing and chat to experts in historic costume, food and more. Food and drink stalls will be available and there will be activities for all ages including have-a-go archery and shield painting. 

Breaking new ground in visitor experience, the festival complements Historic Royal Palaces’ major new project on Tudor progresses, Henry VIII on Tour and a gala week celebrating the king’s imagined ceremonial entry to the West Country with live events planned at Exeter Cathedral and heritage sites in the city of Exeter (14-16 June) and at the present earl of Devon’s residence of Powderham Castle in Devon (17-21 June).

Our Partners

Working with these partners is a chance to open the manor house to new audiences and explore its hidden Tudor past in exciting ways. Ilona Harris, Director of the West Horsley Place Trust said: 

"West Horsley Place is delighted to partner with Historic Royal Palaces, University of Exeter and Powderham Castle on this innovative project. Benefitting from expert research into one of West Horsley Place's most interesting interludes will enable us for the first time to uncover our hidden Tudor history. We believe that making heritage accessible for everybody means finding new and exciting ways to tell stories; this could be through food, music, craft, drama and more. Hosting Henry VIII will embody this belief and enable us to reach new audiences. We cannot wait to welcome them for a royal feast this summer.”

Tracy Borman, historian, author, and joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said:

“Historic Royal Palaces is delighted to be working with West Horsley Place for the Henry on Tour project. The house is steeped in Tudor history and Henry VIII’s visit there in one of the most momentous years of his reign is extremely well documented, so there could be no more fitting venue to recreate some of the splendour of his court.”

Professor James Clark, of Exeter University, said:

“We’re delighted to have this opportunity to apply our research to a site so rich in history as West Horsley and we’re excited to see how our discoveries can help to reveal its heritage to a wide audience”.

Hosting Henry VIII Festival Details

27 & 28th July: Festival Weekend

Experience our immersive multi-sensory recreation of Henry VIII's visit in the manor house and a world of Tudor fun outside. From authentic Tudor jousting and falconry displays to food & drink, strolling tudor folk, music, dancing, kids' zone and more. 

Book before the end of February and you can enjoy an early bird ticket offer! Adults are just £19 and children (ages 3 – 16 years) only £8 when you book now. All proceeds from ticket sales support the mission to repair and conserve West Horsley Place, which is currently on Historic England's Heritage At Risk register. 


29th- 1st July: Open Days & Special Events

Join us as an Open Day visitor and experience our immersive multi-sensory recreation of Henry VIII's visit in 1533 as part of your visit to the manor house. Your ticket will also inlcude access to fun activities for the school holidays like Tudor crafts and garden trail all for iur regular Open Day ticket price. 

Throughout the week we will be hosting special ticketed events including an early music concert, talks by leadfing Tudor experts, theatre, storytelling and more. Watch this space for announcements!