A magnificent new re-creation of Henry VIII’s Imperial crown will be unveiled this autumn. Destroyed after the English Civil War, it has been painstakingly re-created by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces and the Crown Jeweller’s master craftsmen using new research and original records and paintings. This glittering symbol of Henry’s legacy will be displayed in the Royal Pew at Hampton Court Palace, allowing visitors to enjoy access to the balcony for the first time in seven years.
The Tudor Imperial crown was originally created for either Henry VIII or his father, Henry VII, and was worn at the coronations of Henry VIII’s children and possibly that of Henry VIII himself. It was also worn at Hampton Court during major liturgical and court ceremonies, Henry VIII's later addition to the crown of three miniature statues of English Kings (probably St. Edmund, St. Edward the Confessor and Henry VI) emphasized its role as a symbol of the political and religious authority of the English Monarchy at just the time that Henry VIII established himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. The crown was used by all Henry VIII’s successors down to Charles I, who was painted with the crown on several occasions before it was melted down by the Commonwealth government in 1649 at the Tower of London.
The replica crown is based on detailed research by Dr Kent Rawlinson, Curator at Hampton Court Palace. Inventories of Henry’s possessions tell us in detail how it was constructed and where the stones were placed. The 1547-49 inventory (following Henry VIII’s death in 1547) is particularly detailed and was used together with the portrait of Charles I by Daniel Mytens (National Portrait Gallery) to create an accurate replica.
Dr Kent Rawlinson, Curator at Hampton Court Palace, said: “Using the original Tudor inventories and Mytens’ painting of the crown, we’ve been able to identify not only the basic shape of the gold frame of the crown, but also the original position of each of the 344 jewels and pearls. It’s remarkable to be able to know and discover so much about an object which was destroyed over 350 years ago – bringing a lost English royal treasure back to life!”