Layer Marney Tower 500

We have had a fun year, commemorating Henry, 1st Lord Marney, who built Layer Marney Tower, the tallest of all Tudor Gatehouses in the country. He died on 24th May 1523.

We have commissioned Susan Moore to research the life of Henry Marney and after exploring the National Archive, College of Arms and other fascinating repositories of British history she has written a book.

He was a very successful Courtier, working in both the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII. He was trained as a Lawyer at Furnivall Court and drawn in to the Royal circles. Although a mere knight for most of his life, he was made a Knight of the Bath when 3 year old Prince Henry (future King Henry VIII) was made Duke of York, was at present of the marriage of Catherine of Aragon to Prince Arthur. Very soon after the coronation of Henry VIII, he was made a Knight of the Garter and went on to become Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster rising eventually to  Lord Privy Seal.

If you want to read more about the book, please click here and we can send more details

The 2023 Celebrations for Henry 1st Lord Marney 500 anniversary had two parts:

The Re-creation of the 3 day Funeral Procession of Henry 1st Lord Marney from the City of London to Layer Marney Tower in July

Day 1

Henry’s 3-day funeral procession started from his house near St Swithin’s London Stone. It is written up in a fascinating and detailed document held by the College of Arms. They very kindly placed the document of Henry, 1st Lord Marney’s Funeral Procession on display and Clarenceux, King of Arms, Timothy Duke, gave talks about the Heralds’ involvement in the Funeral followed by a walking tour visiting where he may have lived and the 3 churches where his body stopped as the procession moved out of the City of London.

Day 2

On this second day of the Funeral Procession, documented in the Marney Scrolls, Henry’s Funeral Procession visited St. Dunstan’s Church, Stepney and All Saints Old Church, Chingford where his body came to rest for the second night.

A glorious 10 mile walk took us through Mile End Park, Victoria Park, Olympic Park and along the Lee Valley tow path. Not the exact route, as this has been built upon quite extensively since, but none the less, a very picturesque, peaceful walk with the opportunity for tea and cake on completion at All Saints Church.

Day 3

For the last stage in Henry’s funeral parade. Six horses dressed in 500 year centenary drapes pulled Henry’s effigy from Tiptree to Layer Marney Tower. The procession was accompanied by priests, monks, grandees and every day folk dressed in Tudor costume. Onlookers lined the streets in Tiptree and Tolleshunt Knights, before it made their way across the fields towards the Tower.

Terry, the drummer ensured walkers kept in time with a steady beat. Visitors to the Tower were treated to a magnificent sight as the procession came towards them with all the splendour of the drummer, piper, horses, carriage and walkers entering the grounds and finishing in front of the Tower.

Henry’s body, escorted by pallbearers, was taken through the hall  to his final resting place in the church. A short service commemorating Henry’s life and those who have lived and passed in the parish over the last 500 years was given by the Rev’d Anne-Marie.

The Tudor Fair in the grounds offered music, dancing, stalls, re-enactment, arts & crafts, embroidery, armour, archery & ink making. A fitting end to a spectacular 3-day event.

See the pictures in the picture Gallery below23rd and 24th September

The second part was our History Festival in September 


Professor Ralph Houlbrooke, Emeritus Professor of Reading University      

Death and the early Tudor nobility

This starts with a look at Lord Marney’s funeral procession as compared to other noble funerals of the time and look into what happened during the church services themselves.  He also wants to cover what the purpose of such extraordinarily expensive funerary spectacles might have been.

Professor Anthony Musson, Head of Research, Historic Royal Palaces

Layer Marney Tower and the 1522 Royal Progress

The 1522 Royal progress to Walsingham offered time away from the public gaze and moments of privacy to pursue relationships and friendships. His soft politics is seen in Henry’s personal choice of the courtiers to visit, and also in his use of the hunt as way of communication. Anthony Musson’s talk will cover Henry VIII journey through Essex and his stay at Layer Marney Tower.

Tracy Borman, Author, Historian and Broadcaster

Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I; Mother and daughter who changed History         

Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I. Two of the most famous women in British history. Their stories are as familiar as they are compelling. And yet, they have never been told together. Piecing together evidence from original documents and artefacts Tracy Borman reveals Anne Boleyn’s relationship with, and influence over her daughter Elizabeth, the celebrated Virgin Queen. In so doing, she sheds new light on an extraordinary mother and daughter who changed the course of British history forever. 

Dr. Susan Jenkins, Curator of  Westminster Abbey       

The King is dead, Long Live the King! “The role of Funeral Effigies in Westminster Abbey

There are twenty wooden and wax effigies on display in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries in Westminster Abbey . Susan Jenkins talk introduces the Abbey’s life-like funeral effigies made of wood or wax, including Mary I and Elizabeth I. These amazing historic sculptures are the earliest portraits of our medieval monarchs, created to stand in for the deceased royal figure. She will show how they are displayed in the new Galleries.’

James Bettley, Architectural Historian       

Tudor Architecture in Essex        

Essex was a very smart County during Henry 1st Lord Marney’s lifetime. This is reflected in some of the beautiful Tudor buildings still standing 500 years later. Some are nearly complete and others are just a corner of a more modern building. James Bettley’s talk will wander round Essex and look at places like Henry VIII Palace at Beaulieu, the Boleyn’s house at Rochford, as well as Layer

Professor Steven Gunn, Professor of Early Modern History, Merton College, Oxford     

Henry Marney as a Tudor New Man      

Sir Henry Marney was one among many new men who rose under Henry VII and Henry VIII. How far did he fit a standard pattern – in his origins, his skills, and the ways he sought to serve the crown and establish his family – and how lucky was he to survive in the dizzy world of Tudor politics?

An “Off to the Tower” debate

Several of our speakers have agreed to get involved in our “Off to the Tower” debate. Based on the same principle as a Balloon debate the audience will choose who will not be sent to the Tower. Each of the debaters will present a figure in Tudor History and discuss the reasons why they should not be carted off to the Tower! So far Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham (who actually had his head chopped off), Henry Marney (of Course) and Henry VIII have been put forward but the storyline may change!

Your votes might have changed the course of History.

This is a light hearted affair that will provide some facts that might surprise you.

Chaired by Nicholas

Dr. David Starkey Historian and Broadcaster        

Young Henry VIII

Larger than life in every sense, Henry VIII was Britain’s most absolute monarch – but he was not born to rule. David Starkey follows the promising young prince – a Renaissance man of exceptional musical and athletic talent – as he is thrust into the limelight after the death of his elder brother. His subsequent quest for fame was as obsessive as that of any modern celebrity, and his yearning for a male heir drove him into dangerous territory.

Susan Moore Historical Researcher           

Henry Marney – Courtier to Two Kings

Following months of research into the life of Henry Marney, digging in all sorts of places including the National Archive, Susan has uncovered a wider story of a man who survived Civil war, worked for two Tudor Kings and established himself a major Courtier to Henry VIII. This will be first time her research has been presented and will give a much clearer idea of how someone, almost unheard of today, can build the tallest of all Tudor


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