Henry VIII: heads and hearts
Press preview: Thursday 9 April 2009
Opens: Friday 10 April 2009 (Good Friday)
Henry VIII’s Tudor palace: a permanent re-presentation marking the King’s 500th anniversary
King Henry’s palace has been majestically transformed in preparation for the anniversary year, with new displays, presentations and interpretations bringing the story of the King and his court to life as never before!
Visitors will be welcomed into Henry’s Base Court where historically his guests were ceremoniously received 500 years ago. This restored Tudor courtyard will once again become a bustling hub of activity and drama as it was five centuries ago, from which visitors can explore Henry’s great palace and story.
An audio visual display in the Undercroft of the Great Hall will introduce visitors to the world of Henry VIII, looking back over the king’s eventful reign and tumultuous personal life, up to the eve of his wedding to his sixth wife, Kateryn Parr, who went on to outlive the great monarch.
King Henry VIII’s State Apartments have been lavishly re-presented, featuring magnificent new furnishings and important historic exhibits. The Great Hall will be laid out with tables ready for a feast fit for a King; the Great Watching Chamber will be lavishly adorned with furnishings inspired by those depicted in the 16th-century tapestries which hang in this historic room, and the Tudor processional route will be swathed with hangings bearing the Tudor rose and fleur-de-lis, together with portraits illustrating key characters from Henry’s court. King Henry’s Council Chamber, a room in which many world-changing decisions were made, will be opened to the public for the very first time ever and a number of important paintings will also go on display in the newly re-presented Tudor palace, including iconic portraits of King Henry, his wives and members of the court, and several outstanding works after the King’s painter, Hans Holbein the Younger.
King Henry VIII is getting married again….and everyone is invited!
With Hampton Court Palace newly presented for the anniversary celebrations, costumed interpreters will restore the atmosphere of court life to the great Tudor palace.
Every day, visitors will be invited to join in the historic celebrations for Henry VIII’s wedding to his sixth wife, Kateryn Parr, which took place in Hampton Court Palace’s Chapel Royal in 1543. There will be opportunities to see and meet the King, Queen and members of their court throughout the day, and partake in traditional 16th-century games and feasting, with Tudor costumes available for those who wish to fully immerse themselves in experiencing court life!
Visitors can accompany the royal couple on walks around the palace, or ‘choose their own adventure’ , perhaps by becoming one of many servants working in the royal household, or seeking the political highlife as one of Henry’s courtiers. At the end of each day, the royal wedding procession will lead from the Chapel Pew, where the ceremony itself took place, ending with the King retiring to his private quarters with his new bride.
‘Henry’s Women’ exhibition, 10 April – 3 August 2009
This new temporary exhibition at Hampton Court Palace explores Henry’s relationships with the many women who shaped and influenced his reign: his wives and his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth.
The exhibition marks the first time that portraits of all six of his wives have been displayed together at Hampton Court Palace. These important, rarely-seen 16th century portraits will be accompanied by an historic object connected to the fate of each of the Queens, shedding light on their story and their relationship with England’s most matrimonial of monarchs. Highlights include the earliest surviving panel portrait of Katherine of Aragon which includes visual references to the Queen’s struggle to remain Henry’s wife; a portrait of Anne of Cleves, possibly offered to envoys in 1539 prior to her meeting the King which has never been displayed outside of Trinity College, Cambridge; and a portrait recently re-identified as Catherine Howard. Objects include a lock of Kateryn Parr’s blonde hair taken from her corpse in 1817, the marriage annulment document of Henry and Anne of Cleves, and the only surviving letter of Catherine Howard, written to her alleged lover Thomas Culpepper. One of the best surviving contemporary portraits of King Henry VIII, based on Holbein’s Whitehall Mural, will also be shown.
The exhibition will be hosted in King Henry VIII’s Council Chamber, which will be opened to the public for the very first time, enabling visitors to explore the room in which many world-changing decisions, including some of those relating to his queens, were made. The Council Chamber – one of the first rooms to be built by Henry VIII when he took possession of Hampton Court Palace - will be dressed in rich silk fabric hangings decorated with golden Fleur de Lis and the Tudor rose, and a chair of state will be provided for the King.
After the Henry’s Women exhibition closes in August 2009, the King’s Council Chamber will become an interactive multimedia debating chamber, enabling visitors to experience the process of debating and counselling the King over difficult issues of 1543, including religion, Henry’s successor, his marriage with Kateryn Parr and general domestic affairs.
Henry VIII’s Tapestries Revealed
As part of the 500th anniversary celebrations, Historic Royal Palaces and the University of Manchester will unveil the results of a groundbreaking conservation science project to ‘virtually restore’ one of Henry VIII’s world-renowned tapestries.
A magnificent 16th-century tapestry, part of the internationally acclaimed series depicting the History of Abraham, commissioned by Henry VIII after the birth of his long-awaited son Prince Edward for display in Hampton Court Palace’s Great Hall, will be ‘virtually restored’ to its former glory, following years of scientific research and technological developments. This ground-breaking temporary exhibition using highly innovative technology gives visitors a unique glimpse into the beauty and opulence of Henry’s stunning tapestries as they would have been nearly 500 years ago. The temporary installation runs for a limited time only (10 April 2009 - 3 January 2010) in the Queen’s Guard Chamber and is a one-off opportunity to view the magnificent tapestry in its original splendour, as seen by Henry VIII and his court 500 years ago.
The ‘Kyngs Beestes’ return to Hampton Court Palace, 450 years on
Historic Royal Palaces are creating a special Tudor garden inspired by Henry VIII’s 16th-century privy gardens at Hampton Court and Whitehall Palaces. The design of Chapel Court Garden, by acclaimed landscape architect Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, is based on new historical research. Authentically planted only with plants available in 16th century England, it will include defining features of the Tudor court garden such as heraldic beasts, beds of flowers, herbs and topiary, and decorated rails.
The garden will take shape in a previously un-landscaped Tudor courtyard adjoining the palace’s Chapel Royal. The central path will be guarded by a double row of specially commissioned ‘Kyngs beestes’ inspired by those in the painting The Family of Henry VIII c. 1545, which hangs in the palace and clearly depicts the magnificent beasts standing post amongst the flowerbeds. The golden lion of England, a bull, dragon, falcon, leopard, greyhound, lion, white hind and a yale - beautifully hand carved in English oak, then painted and gilded in brightly coloured Tudor livery - will sit on wooden posts painted with traditional green and white chevrons and bound with 24 carat gold chains.
Fragrant, symbolic flowers for the garden will be planted – including the white rose of York (Rosa x alba ‘Semiplena’) and the red rose of Lancaster (Rosa gallica officinalis) - together these two flowers make up the Tudor rose. The flowerbed borders will be planted with alternating rows of wild strawberries and sweet woodruff, whilst the garden paths will be laid with gravel and crushed oyster shell paths. Rosemary topiaries shaped as ships, complete with riggings and canvas sails will also appear throughout the garden, transforming this underused courtyard into an opulent year-round Tudor pleasure garden.
As well as Henry VIII’s newly presented State Apartments and Base Court, visitors to the Tudor palace will also be able to explore:
• The story of the early years of Henry’s reign as told in the ‘Young Henry’ exhibition through a series of historic Tudor paintings including the Field of the Cloth of Gold and the Battle of the Spurs.
• Henry VIII’s Tudor Kitchens, presented for visitors to get a sense of the size and scale of production to feed around 600 courtiers twice per day.
500th anniversary events and activities at Hampton Court Palace
In 2009 Hampton Court will once again become King Henry’s palace playground, with an array of special events. Highlights include a spectacular Tudor river pageant to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s coronation in association with Thames Alive. King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine of Aragon will depart the Tower of London on Saturday 20 June at 10am, accompanied by a flotilla of traditional oared craft to arrive at Hampton Court Palace at 3pm for feasting, fun and games. The festivities will continue over the weekend, with a programme of Tudor-inspired river activities, including boat races and greasy poles at Hampton Court on Sunday 21 June.
For further information about ‘Henry VIII: heads and hearts’ and the press preview on 9 April 2009 contact: Ruth Howlett in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office on 020 3166 6166/6338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For images of Hampton Court Palace, the exhibition and tapestries, visit our online picture library at http://hrp.newsteam.co.uk
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built.
We receive no funding from the Government or the Crown, so we depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors.
These palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
We believe in four principles. Guardianship: giving these palaces a future as long and valuable as their past. Discovery: encouraging people to make links with their own lives and today’s world. Showmanship: doing everything with panache. Independence: having our own point of view and finding new ways to do our work.