News Release - Issued by York Dungeon
The Tudors are famous because their dynasty was full of colourful characters and big events, however did you know about their equally revolting laundry habits?
For the forthcoming ‘Tyrannical Tudors’ show coming to York Dungeon on 4 April, method actor Dan Elmes has really been getting into the metaphorical shoes of his character – and you wouldn’t believe what that entails when it comes to preparing his costume!
Don’t try this at home but the favoured method of Tudor washing involved a mixture of urine (the older the better) and white ash for those who couldn’t afford soap. Eurgh!
In the new show, Dan plays ‘John Thomas’, a former launderer of monks’ habits at St Mary’s Abbey – before Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. Dan’s character has fallen upon hard times and resorted to begging. The poor man has even lost part of his ear for begging in the wrong places. Delving into the back story of his character, Dan has been learning a thing or two about Tudor laundry techniques to bring new depths to the role.
“In Tudor times, washing clothes in the River Ouse was a common sight, but there was no fancy washing powder back then; in fact, only the very wealthiest households had early versions of soap, with most people resorting to a revolting mixture of white ash and human urine to remove stains from clothing,” explains Dan. “Homes even had pee-pots outside to collect what was then a valuable commodity from passers-by! For some reason, they believed that four-day-old urine was the best stain remover, so you can imagine the stench as the 16th century washing detergent reached the appropriate level of maturity!”
The York Dungeon’s new Tyrannical Tudors show promises to be every bit as entertaining as its other shows bringing York’s 2000-year history back to life – with a 75-minute tour full of actor-led performances, all hilariously funny and full of comical but scary moments, often incorporating members of the audience. The special effects and stages bring together a unique and exciting walkthrough experience that you see, hear, touch, smell and feel too.
“We’ve created a new character with their own bespoke (and very authentic) costume, an original, very witty script, and a spectacular 360-degree set,” said general manager Helen Douglas.
Tyrannical Tudors recreates a scene at St Mary’s Abbey in 1541, when an impoverished York was in the grip of Henry VIII’s retribution for the popular Yorkshire uprising against the break with the Catholic Church and against Cromwell. Audiences will experience the sights and sounds, and be able to touch and even smell aspects of this nail-biting but darkly funny re-enactment. Folks may not want to get too close to Dan’s outfit though, once they know what he’s been washing it in!
Tickets can be pre-booked now for the Easter holidays, taking advantage of a special saving of £5.90 on normal prices. Early booking offers can be found at www.thedungeons.com/york
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