Monday, 19 October 2009

Henry VIII's 500th anniversary (Revised April 2011)

Earlier in the year I went to Hampton Court for the 500th anniverary of Henry VIII’s coronation. In the special visitors book commemorating the event, I wrote that I still had not forgiven him for Anne Boleyn’s death.

As I walked round the Base Courtyard, I felt something was amiss. It slowly dawned on me that the verdant lawns had been replaced by white cobblestones which were both dusty and reflected back the intense heat of that summer’s day. (I took the image above in January 2011) .Apparently it had been very expensive to install. I was not impressed. If the idea was to make that part of Hampton Court look more like it was in Henry VIII’s time, why didn’t they restore the gatehouse to its original 5 storeys? However, the following weekend as I sat in Base Court watching the evening fireworks set off in the pleasure gardens outside, the courtyard did seem rather atmospheric.

In the afternoon I had waited patiently for almost two hours for the arrival of Henry and Katherine Parr by royal barge from the Tower to Hampton Court. To my disappointment all I saw of the royal barge were the blue tips of the blade held aloft in salute by the oarsmen as the royal party alighted. At least I was able to later wander around Hampton Court at night. People were even taking pictures inside which is normally frowned on. On a previous occasion, an actor dressed as Sir Thomas Moore told me I could not take pictures even though I wasn’t using flash and others around me were using their cameras. I had never really like Sir Thomas Moore, a man who had had a 15 year old boy burnt alive for his faith but now I disliked him even more or should that be moore? Luckily when I returned to the palace in January 2011 to take part in the New Year celebrations with Henry and his fourth and fifth wives, Thomas Moore's head had long been lopped off his shoulders and so I was able to take pictures within the Great Hall itself.

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