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Tudor Entertainment

People had to make their own entertainment in Tudor times. They worked for most of the week, so entertainment was saved until Sundays when most people would have a day off.

Tudor people went to watch plays in newly built, round theatres in the towns. The well-off sat in covered seats on each side, while poorer people stood up in an open area in front of the stage called the pit. They laughed at the actors' jokes, or booed and jeered if they did not like the play. Only men could be actors so teenage boys played all the female parts dressed in women's clothes, wigs and make-up.

The Globe Theatre - geograph.org.uk - 24898       The Globe Theatre

The most famous Tudor playwright was William Shakespeare, who wrote plays such as: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.

Shakespeare Flower

Travelling musicians played in streets and market places, or found work in noble families' great houses. There, they played gentle music on flutes, lutes and viols, or sang madrigals (songs with different parts for four or more people) while lords and ladies at their meals. This was followed by the latest lively tunes for dancing. Tudor dances were very energetic, with lots of: leaps, jumps, twists and twirls. Noble ladies also played a keyboard instrument called the virginals, which made a gentle, tinkling sound.

Bartolomeo Veneto Woman playing a lute Getty

Fishing, wrestling and archery were favourite outdoor sports for poor people. A type of football was also very popular - neighbouring villages would often play against each other in matches that would last all day. The goal posts would be placed about a mile apart and the players could: throw, kick or pick up the ball as they run through the streets and across the fields. It was a very rough game and people were often injured.

Tennis was also played in Tudor times. Unlike today, it was played indoors and the ball could be bounced off the walls. Rackets were made of wood and strung with sheep gut, whilst the balls were made of leather and filled with hair.

Only the rich were allowed to hunt deer - the poor had to hunt hares and rabbits instead.