Henry VIII's Tapestries Revealed

Henry VIII's Tapestries Revealed

Winner of the Innovations category in the Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence 2011



Henry VIII's tapestry in a new light

We wanted to discover how these tapestries would have looked when Henry VIII first set eyes on them over 500 years ago. We know they have faded as a result of centuries of light exposure, but how much have the colours changed?

To answer this question, conservation scientists from Historic Royal Palaces worked with the University of Manchester for nearly seven years.  This research resulted in a temporary animated projection that produced a virtual colour reconstruction of one of Henry VIII's tapestries. 

How did we do this?

To determine the extent of the fading we calculated the exact difference between the still-vivid fibres on the back of the tapestry and those on the front which have faded after over 500 years of almost permanent open display. Using digital technology we can project the missing elements of this colour onto these faded areas; so reconstructing the original appearance.

Our partner in this project is the University of Manchester. We are also very grateful for funding provided by the Clothworkers’ Foundation.

Our partners: 

University of Manchester

Clothworkers' Foundation

Getting results

The final stage of this project began in October 2006 and was unveiled in Easter 2009 as part of the celebrations to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession.

More conservation science research

Watch the film of the project...

For more detailed information on the project, including images, please download the Adobe PDF file below.  

Learn about conservation

'Caring for the palaces' articles:

Downloadable Resources

Some files are provided in PDF format - you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files.

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    Henry VIII’s Tapestries revealed
    (Adobe PDF, 90KB)

    The science behind the project
    (Adobe PDF, 162KB)

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