Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill

Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill

Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill

A spectacular new exhibition at the Tower in partnership with the Royal Armouries

Opens 3 April 2009 until 17 January 2010

Press release

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne in 1509, Historic Royal Palaces and the Royal Armouries have partnered to present at the Tower of London the most stunning exhibition of Henry VIII’s personal arms and armour ever to be held in the UK - Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill. Some of these original artefacts have never been on display in the UK before.

This new exhibition, opening on 3 April 2009 and running until 17 January 2010, will be displayed over three floors of the iconic White Tower. It will bring together at the Tower of London, for the first time since the reign of Elizabeth I, the largest number of original weapons, armours and pieces of military equipment associated with Henry VIII.

Star items will include: the stunningly decorated ‘Silvered and Engraved’ armour of King Henry VIII (about 1515); the Wilton anime armour of about 1544 for Henry VIII from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, that has not been displayed in the UK for many years; the extraordinary ‘Horned Helmet’ presented to King Henry VIII by the Emperor Maximilian I (1511-14); and the beautiful ‘Burgundian Bard’ horse armour of King Henry VIII (1511-15).  This will be the first time all these objects have been brought together in a single exhibition.

Exploring Henry the Sportsman, Henry the King, Henry the Warrior and Henry the Icon, this exhibition will feature loans from international collections as well as treasures from the Royal Armouries own collection. The armours on display will include one made for Henry to wear at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 but not finished. Completely covering the king’s body, it was made of many overlapping, moving parts using state of the art ideas and designs; it is still in ‘working order’ after 500 years. Made to fit the King’s body exactly, this gives us a wonderful impression of the physique of an athletic young king and of the man behind the monarch. Part propaganda and part fashion, it conveys the power, majesty, wealth and psychology of a man who spent a fortune setting up a royal workshop at Greenwich to make him exclusive armours and ensure he was always Dressed to Kill.

This dazzling exhibition will give visitors unprecedented access to Henry VIII’s most spectacular armour and personal weapons. It will include the only two sporting guns that are known to have survived from Henry VIII’s personal armoury, as well as examples of the experimental firearms such as the gun shields that he purchased to arm some of his troops. The exhibition will use not only the most advanced technology in displaying the armour itself, but also 21st century photographic, video and scanning techniques to show in fine detail the intricate construction and lavish decoration of these amazing original artefacts, hand-made by master armourers in England and Europe 500 years ago. Never before have visitors seen Henry’s arms and armour looking so good.

Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill has been generously supported by HISTORY ™. Tom Davidson, Managing Director, said: “This anniversary is a wonderful opportunity for a major TV channel like HISTORY to bring to life - through both the exhibition and a range of programming - one of the most iconic figures from British history, in full HD glory.” 

The Premier Partner of the Tower of London is Man Group plc, and Man Group plc Charitable Trust has made a generous pledge to support the conservation of the White Tower in time for the 2012 Olympiad.

Further information

Notes to editors
For further information contact the Tower of London Press Office  on 020 3166 6166  or email: press@hrp.org.uk or the Royal Armouries Press Office 0113 220 1979 or email andrea.long@armouries.org.uk

To register for the press preview on Tuesday 31 March, please call or email the Tower of London Press Office at press@hrp.org.uk.

Factsheets and images illustrating the Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill exhibition are available from the Press Office. Generic Historic Royal Palaces images can also be viewed and downloaded immediately and for free by registering on the website http://hrp.newsteam.co.uk

A special 2009 joint ticket for both the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace gives a 20% discount on the combined price of both attractions. For even better value, don’t forget that HRP membership is the most cost-effective way to visit our palaces, giving unlimited free entry to all five palaces for a whole year! Prices start at only £38.00. Click here to find out more about membership.

Historic Royal Palaces
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. Registered charity number 1068852

The Royal Armouries
Britain’s oldest national museum, and one of the oldest museums in the world, has four sites - The White Tower in the Tower of London, Leeds, Fort Nelson near Portsmouth and at the Frazier Museum of International History in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
The Royal Armouries is committed to its role as guardian of the national collection of arms and armour and to the display and interpretation of its outstanding objects. In addition, it seeks to promote an understanding of the causes and outcomes of conflict, both within the community and at the national and international level. www.royalarmouries.org

Downloadable Resources

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

  1. Click here to download Acrobat Reader
  2. Alternatively, Adobe offers a service for converting PDFs into HTML or plain text. Access this service here


    Factsheet - International links for Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill
    (Adobe PDF, 61KB)

    Factsheet - Key objects at Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill
    (Adobe PDF, 69KB)

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