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Act of Supremacy An English law of 1534 that declared King Henry VIII to be the supreme head of the Church of England.
Alehouse A type of pub that sold ale (a type of beer made from barley). Some alehouses were very small, often just a single room in a private house. Snacks of bread and cheese were offered to customers.
Annul To cancel. King Henry VIII’s marriage to his first wife Catherine of Aragon was annulled so he could marry Anne Boleyn.
Apothecary A person who kept a stock of wine, spices and herbs to make medicines and drugs. A modern word for an apothecary is pharmacist.
Archaeologist A person who digs in the ground to find out about the past. The name means 'someone who studies ancient things’.
Archaeology The study of the past through remains found in the ground.


Bodice A part of a woman’s dress covering the area between their neck and their waist.
Breeches Knee-length trousers worn by men. Tudor breeches were often padded to make them bigger.


Catholic, Catholicism A type of Christian religion, also known as Roman Catholic, ruled by the pope in Rome. This was the main religion in England until Henry VIII took over as ruler of the Church of England in 1534.
Cesspit A hole in the ground to hold waste from toilets and other rubbish.
Chapel Part of a church or a small private church.
Chapterhouse A meeting room for business in a cathedral or religious house. The ‘Chapter’ is the name for a group of clergymen (priests) who give advice to the bishop.
Church of England The Christian church in England which was officially established in 597. The Church of England was under the pope’s control until King Henry VIII took it over in 1534.
Chute A tube, pipe or shaft for water and waste to flow down.
City of London A city within London that is controlled by the City of London Corporation and the Lord Mayor. In Tudor times it was the mostly the area inside the ancient City walls.
Clergy People like bishops and priests who have religious jobs.
Cloister A covered walkway in a religious house, usually around a courtyard or garden.
Conduit A water pipe or fountain for public and private use.
Copper alloy A mixture of copper with different amounts of tin or zinc, commonly known as bronze and brass.
Court A place where trials and legal disputes are held; the collective name given to the monarch and the royal household (all the people around them such as friends, family members, advisers and servants); the place where the monarch and members of their household live.
Courtier A person who is often ‘at court’ advising the monarch or seeking favours from them. Courtiers were often friends with the monarch or people who held high positions in government.
Coronation The ceremony where the monarch is given the crown.


Decapitate To cut off someone’s head, usually as a punishment for a crime.
Dissolution of the
The process of closing (dissolving) the religious houses. In 1535 the Suppression of Religious Houses Act gave King Henry VIII the power to close religious houses and stated that all their property would be given to the king. By 1540, nearly all the religious houses were closed and the people that had lived in them had to find new homes.
Dripping dish A wide, flat dish put underneath roasting meat to catch the fat and juices.


Excavation A dig carried out by archaeologists to find remains of the past.
Execution A legal punishment of death for a crime.


Fire steel A piece of iron that is struck against a flint to make a spark for lighting a fire. Also known as a strike-a-light.
Fumigation Burning herbs and other strong-smelling substances to clean the air in a room.


Great Hall A large, impressive room in a house or palace. In Hampton Court Palace the Great Hall was mainly used as a dining room for the palace servants.
Great Watching Chamber A room in a royal palace. Here the palace guards would stop unwanted people walking into the monarch’s rooms. It was also where courtiers would gather.


Hanging One of the ways that Tudor criminals were executed. They would hang in the air by a rope looped around their neck until they were dead. This could take quite a long time and was a very painful way to die.
Headdress A type of head covering worn by Tudor women. It was like a hood but the fabric was often shaped with wire.


Inn A type of large pub which had rooms where people could stay, like a hotel.
Iron A type of metal used to make many different types of objects including knives and swords.


Jerkin A type of short jacket, usually without sleeves. Tudor jerkins were often made from leather.
Jetty An upper floor in a building that projects further into the street than the lower floors. Jetties were used to make more space in a building.




Livery company A trade association or guild which controlled the standard of products, wages and working conditions for members. There were many livery companies in Tudor London for all kinds of trades including goldsmiths, butchers and fishmongers. The word ‘livery’ refers to the special gown worn by members of the company.


Mastiff A breed of large, powerful dog often used for fighting in Tudor times.
Minister An important person working for the government who is often in charge of a particular department. Also used in churches for someone who is able to preach and lead a religious service.
Monarch The king or queen.
Monastery A religious house where monks live.
Monk A man who lives a religious life away from the rest of society, often in a monastery with other monks. Monks cannot get married. They spend most of their lives praying and worshipping God.


Noble Noble men or women were part of the highest levels of society and could be very wealthy. They often had lands and titles such as duke, duchess, lord or lady.
Nun A woman who lives a religious life away from the rest of society, often in a nunnery with other nuns. Nuns cannot get married. They spend most of their lives praying and worshipping God.
Nunnery A religious house where nuns live. Also known as a convent.




Pewter A type of metal made from a mixture of other metals such as tin and lead.
Pier A large pillar that supports the arches of a bridge.
Pilgrim A person who goes on a journey to a holy shrine, often to give thanks to a saint, to ask a saint for help or as a way of saying sorry for a crime or sin.
Pilgrimage A religious journey to a holy shrine.
Plague A disease that spread very easily. People who caught plague were very likely to die. Symptoms included fever, headaches, being sick, swellings called ‘buboes’ and blisters on the skin. There are different types of plague, including bubonic plague.
Playhouse A special building used for plays. Some were shaped like a large ring or oval similar to a football stadium, with three floors of galleries around the edge fitted with seats covered by a roof. The centre space, known as the yard, was open to the sky and this is where the poorer members of the audience stood. At one end of the yard was the stage.
Pope The bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pottage A porridge-like stew made with vegetables, small pieces of meat and oats or barley.
Privy A toilet.
Privy Chamber The private rooms used by the king or queen.
Procession A group of people moving or marching together in an organised way, often as part of a ceremony.
Protestant, Protestantism A type of Christian religion not ruled by the Pope in Rome. Followers believe in the teachings of the Bible alone and that people’s sins can be forgiven only through their faith in God rather than their actions.




Reformation The religious movement that aimed to make changes to the Roman Catholic Church and led to the establishment of Protestant churches.
Relic Part of the body of a saint or holy person, or an item believed to be associated with them. Relics of saints were often kept at shrines and visited by pilgrims.
Religious house A place where a community of monks or nuns live.


Scrofula Tuberculosis (a type of disease) of the glands which can lead to swellings in the neck.
Shrine A building containing the relics of a saint or a place devoted to a saint.
Southwark The part of London to the south of the River Thames, opposite the City of London.
Starling The 19 piers supporting Old London Bridge were built upon wedge-shaped platforms of wood and rubble called ‘starlings’. The starlings helped to protect the stonework from damage by the strong river currents.
Stocks A hinged wooden frame with holes for the legs and hands, used as a form of punishment. An upright frame called the ‘pillory’ was used to trap the head and hands.


Tavern A type of pub that sold wine. Taverns were more expensive places to drink than alehouses.
Thatch Straw or reeds used to cover a roof.
Tin-glazed earthenware A type of pottery with a white glaze (surface) containing tin. Tin-glazed pots often have blue decoration, but other colours were also used such as yellow, green and purple.
Tudor The surname of the royal family which ruled England from 1485 to 1603. The Tudor monarchs were Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.
Treason The act of betraying your country or trying to kill or hurt the monarch.
Trial The meeting or meetings held at a law court to decide whether someone is innocent or guilty of a crime.


Ulcer An open sore on the skin that can be very painful, red and swollen. Ulcers often take a long time to heal.




Well A hole dug to get water out of the ground. People often used a bucket on a rope to get water from the bottom of the well.
Westminster A separate city located to the west of the City of London. It became the centre of the royal court and the seat of government with the palace of Whitehall at its heart.