But Fulham is blessed with enthusiastic docents eager to tell the story of the palace to visitors. I went on a tour of the Tudor herb garden and learned about the beginnings of English medicine, distilled from plots of unimpressive, weedy-looking plants.
Fulham will change yet again, thanks to a recent $4.9-million grant that will help fund a restoration next year. Call ahead for hours.
Fulham Palace, Bishops Avenue, Fulham, London SW6 6EA; 011-44-20-7736-3233.
MY final stop on the Tudor trail was Charterhouse in northeastern London. It was an ancient Carthusian monastery dissolved by Henry VIII and converted into a Tudor townhouse. It's built around five quadrangles and resembles a mellow, stone Cambridge college plunked down in the heart of London. It has, as do nearly all Tudor destinations, an atmosphere thick with murder and menace.
Outside the main gate is a quiet square built atop a 14th century burial pit for plague victims, where recent excavations turned up the remains of a 12-year-old girl.
The gate itself is notorious: During the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII ordered the arm of the former prior nailed above it as a warning.
It was from Charterhouse on Jan. 15, 1559, that the young Elizabeth left for her coronation at Westminster Abbey. Two months before her death in 1603, she paid it a last, bittersweet visit.
Now it's a gentlemen's retirement home known as Sutton's Hospital; I joined a group of 20 people for a guided tour led by one of its jovial residents. We saw some of the cells used by the medieval monks, complete with food hatches and open drainage. They line a barrel-vaulted brick passage that looks as though it belongs in a Harry Potter movie. The roof of the passage, I learned, was added by the fourth Duke of Norfolk, a 16th century resident, to provide a covered way to his new tennis court. The tennis court is gone, as is the duke, who lost his head in a plot to marry Mary, Queen of Scots, and seize the English throne.
Charterhouse, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6AN; 011-44-20-7253-9503.
Susan James is author of "Kateryn Parr: The Making of a Queen."