Leisure (Tudor and Stuart)

Most people in the Tudor and Stuart periods didn’t get much time off. Everyone had Sundays off to go to church but other than that people often worked from early in the morning until it was time to go to bed, six days a week. However, a lot of work wasn’t as regulated as it is today and usually there were no specific number of hours most people had to do in a day. If you were a gentleman or a rich merchant, you would have more leisure time than most. What you did with your leisure time reflected your standing in society. 

King's Head, Aylesbury, an inn


Inns, taverns and alehouses

There were different classes of pubs in the Tudor and Stuart periods. Inns were places for staying overnight and eating a good meal; taverns were for drinking and eating whatever was cooking and alehouses were just for drinking.


Do a search on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal to find all the sixteenth and seventeenth century inns in your area. From the name, descriptions of the size and whether there are outbuildings for horses or coaches, try to define them as inns, taverns or alehouses and write them here:















Clay pipe fragmentsSmoking or snuff

Tobacco was brought into England in the late sixteenth century but taking it did not really catch on until the seventeenth century. There were two ways of taking it, either smoking it in a pipe or inhaling it as snuff. If you were very rich, you wouldn’t want to smoke a pipe. Why do you think that was? Circle one answer:

  1. It was too smelly.
  2. It was bad for your health.
  3. It was too cheap.


It wasn’t considered bad for your health to smoke a pipe. In fact, it was encouraged. The rules of Eton College stipulated that the students had to smoke a pipe a day because it was good for their lungs! A clay pipe full of tobacco was usually very cheap, costing about 3d each in taverns and coffee-houses in London, whereas a snuff-box was usually much more expensive and showed off your wealth. It seems as though many gentlemen preferred to take snuff because smoking smelled so much. It covered up the perfumes gentlemen wore on their clothes!


Clay pipes are often found on archaeological excavations. Do a search of Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal to find out where Tudor and Stuart clay pipes have been found and find out the answers to these questions: 

  1. What are the earliest clay pipes you can find in Buckinghamshire?
  2. Can you find the possible clay pipe kiln? Where was it?
  3. Where was the largest collection of clay pipes found? 



Nearly every town and village had fairs, sometimes two or three a year. A fair was a time for buying and selling, but also for entertainment. Do some research on the Internet and in books for information about what kind of entertainment was put on at Tudor and Stuart fairs. Write down five things you might see at a sixteenth or seventeenth century fair here:




Where would be the best place in your town or village for a fair? Look at a map of your area and try to pick out any nice open spaces that may have been used. Were those spaces there in the Tudor and Stuart periods? If it is a recreation ground it is probably a more modern space. Think about the age of the buildings around the space. If they are modern, the space might be too. Mark on your map where you think the fair might have been held.


Haddenham greenAlternatively, look at the example your teacher gives you. This is a map of Haddenham. The fair might have been held on the village green (the shaded area). You can see some pictures of what the houses around the green look like today attached to this page.


Draw a picture, using what you know about the entertainments that were put on, of what a Tudor or Stuart fair would look like in Haddenham or in your village or town. Remember that some of the houses are not Tudor or Stuart. Check which ones are on the Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal database and replace the others with houses that look like they date to the Tudor or Stuart period.


You could either draw your picture as if you are looking in one direction, for instance towards the church, or as if you are looking from above but can see all the houses, like this picture on the right. This is often how Tudor or Stuart maps were drawn.


Go back to more Rich and poor worksheets.