Hooray Henry

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A large bearded man wearing fine Tudor garments standing with legs astride

King Henry in formidable form


I recently watched the film adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s 'The Other Boleyn Girl’ – I can’t say I enjoyed the mixing of fact with fiction, but it made me think about how much speculation, debate and gossip Henry VIII has drummed up in the 500 years since he became King. I am sure he would absolutely thrilled that his reputation is still thriving in the 21st century due to his larger-than-life character, ill-fated marriages and the major decisions he made that have shaped the history of the country (not to mention a million documentaries and dramatisations). Any publicity is good publicity, right?


Henry was declared king in April 1509 and just about everywhere up and down the country with a Henry connection is marking the occasion. I am desperate to get to Hampton Court for the Henry VIII: Heads and Hearts exhibition, as well as the Dressed to Kill at The Tower of London and Man & Monarch at the British Library. Infuriatingly I’m missing out on the Great Recreation of Tudor Life at Kentwell Hall this summer which will be focused on the Henrican year of 1535. (Look out for Kentwell on Channel 5's ‘I own Britain’s Best Home’).


In the meantime I am relishing the prospect of David Starkey’s new documentary, Henry VIII - Mind of a Tyrant which starts on Channel 4 this Monday 6th April. The episodes are billed with the tantalising subtitles of Prince, Warrior, Lover and Tyrant. The Walker’s own spectacular Henry VIII portrait is to be featured on 20th April with David doing a piece to camera from the gallery. You can brush up (pardon the pun) on our iconic painting on the website – there’s an in-depth write-up and podcast, as well as some fun online stuff for kids to do.


If you’re looking for family friendly activities with a hint of Henry then don’t miss the Walker’s ‘Terrible Tudors’ day on 18 April when there’ll be mask making, music and drawing activities. Sounds fun – though I say less of the Terrible - the Tudor dynasty will always be undeniably terrific in my eyes!