Hello and welcome to the inaugural episode of Talking Tudors, a fortnightly podcast about the ever-fascinating Tudor dynasty. My name is Natalie Grueninger and I’ll be your host and guide on this journey through sixteenth-century England.
In this short introductory episode, I’d like to give you a little background information about myself and share with you my vision for this podcast.
In case the accent hasn’t already given me away, I’m a born and bred Sydneysider – a first generation Aussie born to Uruguayan parents. For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to the past and completely fascinated by stories of people who’ve walked this earth before me. My love for the Tudors, though, wasn’t ignited until my early 20’s, thanks to a wonderful novel by Robin Maxwell called ‘The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn’. I felt an immediate connection with Anne, one that only continues to deepen and strengthen the more I learn about her.
A visit to the Tower of London on a very chilly November morning in 2000, followed by a walk around Hampton Court Palace, fuelled the fire sparked by Maxwell’s novel and awoke in me a curiosity that I’ve still not been able to satiate and don’t think I ever will. These early experiences also began a lifelong passion for learning history on the very stage where it played out and led me to create, in 2009, On the Tudor Trail, a website dedicated to documenting historic sites associated with Anne Boleyn and sharing information about prominent Tudor personalities and daily life in sixteenth century England.
I began to dedicate many hours and much energy to researching and writing about the Tudors, largely through the lens of the great houses, palaces and castles where their stories unfurled.
In 2013, my debut book, In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn, co-authored with Sarah Morris, was published in the UK, followed by In the Footsteps of the Six Wives of Henry VIII, another collaboration between Sarah and myself, in March 2016.
In August 2017, my first solo book, Discovering Tudor London: A Journey Back in Time, was published in the UK by The History Press, followed by ‘Colouring History: The Tudors’ and ‘Colouring History: Tudor Queens and Consorts’. The latter two are colouring books for grown-ups inspired by the Tudor dynasty and beautifully illustrated by Kathryn Holeman. They feature stunning drawings inspired by sixteenth-century paintings and manuscripts and make wonderful gifts for the history lover.
You may be wondering why the fascination with places? Well, these sites are the keepers of history, the guardians of stories, whose protagonists have long returned to dust. They are portals between our world and theirs.
Through reading, we can come to know the Tudors, intellectually. We can learn about the larger-than-life personalities, the politics and great personal dramas that so captivate us, and spend hours poring over their personal correspondence, state papers and portraits. But when we stand where the Tudors once stood and see what they saw, our connection deepens. Suddenly, they step out from the pages of history books and become living, breathing people once more.
It’s in these moments that things I’ve read about and thought I had understood finally hit home, bringing fresh insights. It’s also when I experience the strongest emotional connection to the past, which is precisely wherein lies the power of places—in their ability to touch us emotionally, to leap the chasm between past and present and unite us on a soul level.
When I stand in a place—be it an intact building, ruins or even an empty field—that once bore witness to the defining moments of the era, and the quiet ones too, and absorb its history and its moods, I feel that great gulf close and time gradually dissipate. In those moments, the past feels as though it’s standing alongside me.
Another reason why I started my website, Facebook page and Twitter account, was to connect with like-minded people who share my love of Tudor history and I’ve certainly done that over the last 9 years. While I absolutely love living in Sydney, the downside is that I don’t often meet people who share my interest in the Tudor era. In fact, when I tell people that I write about sixteenth-century England, I’m often met with blank stares, so the online Tudor community, of which I’ve been a proud member since 2009, has been a lifesaver.
So why am I starting this podcast? Well, the very simple answer is that I love to talk about the Tudors and I’m constantly on the lookout for new ways to share my passion with others. I also believe in the power of good conversation and storytelling.
It’s my hope that through authentic and largely unscripted conversations with authors, historians and other experts, we’ll gain new insights into the period and deepen our understanding of the era, while also getting to know each other. While Tudor history is of course our main focus, I’ll conclude all of my conversations by playing a game of ’10 to Go’ with my guests. This involves asking ten random questions, purely for fun, like name a song that instantly lifts your mood. In case you’re wondering, ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong does it for me.
I’ll also ask each of my guests to leave us with a ‘Tudor Takeaway’, a little gem for us to explore after listening. This might be the name of a song for us to check out on YouTube or a website to visit. Speaking of which, I have a Tudor Takeaway for you right now. I recently stumbled across some wonderful online exhibitions at The Morgan Library and Museum Website, including one entitled ‘The Hours of Henry VIII’, which features a manuscript that may have once belonged to the Tudor king. There’s lots of other great stuff to explore too. Just go to the museum’s website and visit the exhibitions tab.
I don’t think I can conclude this episode without giving you a little taster of what’s to come. Between now and the end of the year, I’ll be speaking with many acclaimed authors and historians about a range of topics, everything from Richard III and the Princes in the Tower to Tudor music and sixteenth-century pilgrimage sites. August and September guests include Dr Sarah Morris, Dr Wendy J. Dunn, Dr Joanne Paul, Dr Suzannah Lipscomb and Dr Emma Wells. To say I’m excited is a huge understatement. I cannot wait to chat with and learn from these exceptional women. If you’d like to suggest a guest for the show, please get in touch. Send me a tweet @OntheTudorTrail and use the hashtag #talkingtudors.
Well, that brings us to the end of this introductory episode of Talking Tudors. Thank you so much for listening. You’ll find show notes at talkingtudors.podbean.com and also at my website www.onthetudortrail.com. I’d be very grateful if you’d share the podcast with friends and family and click on the all-important follow button, so you’ll never miss an episode. I’d like to leave you with a little music, Thomas Tallis – Lamentations I performed by The Tudor Consort, a specialist early choral group based in New Zealand. I suggest you pause and make yourself a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine before listening, as the song is around nine minutes long. Music is so powerful, don’t you think? It can instantly transport us to a time and place, even one we’ve never known. I look forward to talking Tudors with you again very soon.
Connect with Natalie Grueninger
If you have any suggestions or feedback, please get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you!