AS THE historian Dr David Starkey pointed out, the Tudors were England’s equivalent of the ancient Greek gods.

Flamboyant, petulant, ambitious, often murderous, always fighting among themselves, theirs was certainly one of the most interesting periods in history and they have been firm favourites with students down through the ages.

Tucked away in a back street near the harbour, Weymouth has its own fascinating slice of life in the early 17th century.

The Tudor House is a substantial, three-storey Portland stone building in Trinity Street, between the harbour and Brewers Quay. With its double gables, leaded windows and – according to a group of ghostbusters from Southampton, a lesbian ghost – it is thought to have been built in the early 17th century by a merchant who chose the location because back then, the street was an inlet leading off the main harbour. This allowed the trader to moor his boats right outside his home and unload his goods.

Two centuries later, the inlet or ‘ope’ became silted up and was turned into a street. The house was divided into two cottages and it stayed that way until the 1930s when it was deemed unfit for habitation and lined up for demolition.

Thanks to the intervention of the Second World War, the property was spared and when peace finally came, Weymouth architect Ernest Walmsley Lewis bought and restored the house, travelling all over the UK and Europe to buy genuine Tudor and Stuart articles to furnish it.

At his death in 1977, the house was handed over to Weymouth Civic Society who run it to this day, leading tours of the curious and interested around the building.

House custodian Eileen O’Brien said: “There was a warehouse next door and in Tudor times, Weymouth was a port for imports from the continent and was considered more important than Poole.”

She added that a team of ghost finders had spent time in the house and discovered the ghost of a lady called Lucy whose lover was a woman called Florence. Several people have said they have seen a ‘grey lady’ in the property.

“A schoolgirl once said she had been talking to a grey lady upstairs and a member of the Civic Society, a man who was not at all into ghosts, said he had seen something in the second bedroom,” said Eileen.

Stepping into the Tudor House is a wonderful escape from the present into the past.

The ground floor is taken up by the living room, which still has two fireplaces as a relic of the time when the house was turned into two cottages. One fireplace has a large meat spit – that would have been turned by the family’s serving children – while the other has a large pot wrought iron swing that can be moved over the fire for cooking purposes.

There is a large refectory table surrounded by Stuart dining chairs and the walls are lined with pewter plates.

The tabletop has a rough and smooth side because food was prepared on one side and then the table was turned over and the meal served on the smoother, polished side.

Tour guide Celia Kemble, who takes parties round the house, was on hand to explain the different makes of candles used at the time.

“The richest people have beeswax candles but these were very expensive so ordinary people would use rushes covered in the fat that dripped from cooking meat. It would have smelt horrible.

“The candles were held in special holders and could be bent in half so that when one end burned, the other could then be used. It is where we get the saying ‘burning the candle at both ends’.”

Upstairs on the next two floors are furnished bedrooms, a table laid out with Tudor tableware including cowhorn drinking beakers, a square wooden plate – where the phrase ‘a square meal’ originated – and a maid sitting with the young boy of the house, rocking his baby sibling in a cradle.

There is a Stuart bedstead with a loosely strung rope base.

Celia explained: “Before they got into bed at night people would have to pull the ropes taut for comfort. It is where the phrase ‘sleep tight’ comes from.”

Weymouth’s Tudor House is open from May to September, Tuesday to Friday, from 1pm to 3.45pm.

Between October and May the house is open on the first Sunday of the month (except January) from 2pm to 4pm.

To discuss a group or school visit, please call 01305 779771 or 01305 772230.

The Civic Society is looking for Tudor House guides once a week.

Call Eileen on 01305 772230.