Learn more about Susan Bertie, later Countess of Kent

Investigate status and fashion in the Tudor period through this fascinating portrait.

  • Investigate the portrait of Susan Bertie,  later Countess of Kent

How to use this resource

This resource is free to use by anyone but has been developed to support learning in Key Stage 2/3.

You could use this resource as part of a group, discuss the information and answer the questions together.

Or you could use the resource independently and write notes on what you find out and record your responses.

Curriculum links: History (Tudors & Stewarts)

Themes: Tudors, Portraiture, Fashion, Status, Kent.


Who is the sitter?

Susan Bertie was the daughter of Catherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk and her second husband Richard Bertie. Susan was born in 1554 making her just 13 when she sat for this portrait!

As her parents were Protestant, Susan’s family spent the years of the Catholic Queen Mary’s reign abroad to avoid persecution, only returning in 1559 after Elizabeth I became Queen.

Her family history is like a who’s who of Tudor celebrity! She was someone of very high status and portraits like this one were intended to demonstrate just that.



Did you know? Anne Boleyn’s family home is in Kent! Anne Boleyn who was Henry VIII’s second wife and Elizabeth I’s mother, spent most of her childhood at Hever castle near Edenbridge. The castle was also visited multiple times by Henry himself during his courtship with Anne.

Investigate the portrait!

Click on the arrows to explore the painting. Each time you click right you will be taken to a different detail in the painting.

Click on the eye icon if you want to hide or reveal the text.

Who is the Artist?

The identity of the portrait artist is not known, but several paintings from this period share enough characteristics, such as great attention to jewellery, that they are attributed to the same person – referred to as the Master of the Countess of Warwick (active in England 1567-1569).

How did they make the portrait?

Unlike modern portraits where the sitter can be photographed before being painted, during the tudor era the subject in the portrait would have had to sit for hours on end, the painting could take many months or even years in some cases! 



‘Susan Bertie, later Countess of Kent’
Master of the Countess of Warwick (active in England 1567-1569)
Oil on panel
48.5 x 35.9 cm

On display: People and Places Gallery


  • Sitter: A person depicted in a portrait.
  • Ruff: A projecting starched frill worn around the neck, characteristic of Elizabethan and Jacobean fashion.
  • Tudor period: The Tudor era dates from 22 August 1485 – 24 March 1603. These dates also encompass eras such as the Elizabethan and Shakespearean eras as these terms relate to Queen Elizabeth I who ruled at the time and Shakespeare who was a very famous playrite at this time. 

Explore more

Book our Tudors and Stuarts Loans Box
Get hands on with real artefacts from this turbulent time in Britain’s history. Find out what everyday objects can tell us about life in the past.

Compare and contrast!

As it was in the past, fashion is an important part of portraiture today. Why not compare this portrait to a contemporary portrait like Delilah Tickles by Hannah Rose Thomas?

Think about what the portraits have in common, think carefully about how both sitters are positioned and look at their clothing and jewelerry.


Artefacts in exhibition case The Beaney Museum

Get closer to The Beaney and immerse yourself in history, heritage, art and culture