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Clothing & Health


In Tudor England the rich could afford clothing made of fine wool, linen or silk, often decorated with jewels and embroidered with gold thread.

Frilly lace collars called ruffs were very fashionable. No rich person felt dressed unless they wore a ruff, which gave a strong signal about the wealth and importance of the wearer.

Rich ladies wore padded skirts held up with loops, over which went bodices and colourful floor-length gowns.

Rich men wore silk shirts, frilled at the neck and wrists, over which went a type of jacket called a doublet, and close-fitting trousers, called hose.

Poor people wore simple, loose-fitting clothes made from woollen cloth. Men wore hose and a tunic that came just above the knee, and women wore dresses that skirted the ground. They often wore an apron over this and a cloth bonnet to keep their clothes and hair clean.


In Tudor times many children died young – less than half of them reaching the age of 16 – and the average life expectancy was just 35 years.

Although home to only a small number of people compared with towns and cities today, Tudor towns were overcrowded and dirty, with no sewers or drains and rubbish left to rot in the streets.

Such filthy conditions meant a great many people died from diseases such as typhus, cholera and the Black Death, which was spread by flea-infested rats.

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