In 2009, independent charity Historic Royal Palaces celebrated the 500th anniversary of King Henry VIII’s accession to the throne with Henry VIII: heads and hearts at Hampton Court Palace – the most ambitious programme of exhibitions, events, displays and preparatory conservation work ever staged at the King’s former royal residence.
Henry VIII: heads and hearts has involved 38 separate and original projects, all combining to create a holistic visitor experience of Henry VIII’s Tudor palace in the landmark anniversary year and beyond. Highlights included:
- The complete re-presentation of Henry VIII’s State Apartments, featuring magnificent new furnishings, important historic exhibits, and new interpretation bringing the story of the King and his court vividly to life
- The creation of a Tudor garden, Chapel Court, based on new and extensive historical research into Henry VIII’s 16th century privy gardens
- The archaeology and restoration of Base Court, the palace’s great inner courtyard, where King Henry’s guests were ceremoniously received
- The opening of the Council Chamber to the public for the first time, richly re-dressed and featuring an innovative interactive exhibition encouraging visitors to join the King’s privy council in debating the issues of the day
- Henry VIII’s Tapestries Revealed - a groundbreaking scientific conservation project involving the ‘virtual restoration’ of one of the king’s 500-year-old tapestries
- A daily programme of costumed live interpretation restoring the atmosphere of court life to the great Tudor palace and enabling visitors to meet and interact with King Henry VIII, his Queen and his courtiers
- A series of special events and activities including a Tudor river pageant, the first jousting tournament at the palace in modern history, lectures, music concerts, theatre performances, and Tudor cookery in Henry VIII’s kitchens
Of the £100,000 Art Fund Prize nomination, Michael Day, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces said: “2009 marked the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne, and was a milestone year for Hampton Court Palace, his former royal residence. To commemorate the occasion, the charity embarked upon the most ambitious programme of exhibitions, events, displays, and conservation work that we have ever undertaken, resulting in record numbers of visitors to the palace. I am delighted that years of research, preparation and hard work by staff across the organisation have captured the attention of the Art Fund Prize judges.”
Following the success of Henry VIII: heads and hearts, the mighty Tudor monarch will continue to welcome visitors to his magnificent palace in 2010! Costumed live interpreters portraying the King, his six wives and his courtiers, will be in attendance throughout the year, presiding over a programme of spectacular events and inspired activities.
To find out more about The Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries, visit: http://www.artfundprize.org.uk/