This July, the grounds of Hampton Court will once again ring out with the sound of charging horses’ hooves and the clash of cold metal, as for one weekend only, King Henry VIII and his court take up residence for that most Tudor of royal sports: the joust.
Recreating all the pomp and ceremony of a lavish court entertainment, visitors will be immersed into the sights, smells and sounds of the Tudor court, brought to life with dazzling displays of sword fighting and courtly games. Ever wondered which instruments were popular at Henry’s court? There’ll be a host of weird and wonderful Tudor instruments to discover, and the chance for young visitors to try out pieces of armour for size.
Throughout the day, visitors can witness the knights arming themselves for battle, or watch as the court musicians prepare for their royal command performance, before the jousting begins at 12.30 and 15.45 each day. Crowds will gather to cheer on the rival knights as they compete for glory, and soak up the thrill and spectacle of the joust as guests of the King. Will anyone attract Henry’s famous roving eye and end up his next Queen?
Across the weekend, the palace’s famous Tudor Kitchens will be heading outside into the gardens, roasting meat in authentic style over an impressive open fire. There’ll even be Tudor-style sausages on offer for those wanting a real taste of the action!
Meanwhile, within the palace’s Tudor Apartments, visitors will be offered a ringside seat for discussions of the King’s ‘Great Matter’ – how to obtain his all-important divorce from Catherine of Aragon – in specially written scenes by award-winning playwright Elizabeth Kuti. Visitors will then be encouraged to follow the drama out into the gardens as Henry and his advisers take their place on the dais as the royal tournament’s guests of honour.
This event is part of a summer-long celebration of Hampton Court Palace’s gardens, and takes place amid the formal splendour of the East Front gardens.
For further information and images, please contact Adam Budhram in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office: adam.budhram @hrp.org.uk 0203 166 6307.