Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace

Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon at Hampton Court Palace, cleverly arriving in time to watch the school kids all leave so that I didn’t have to worry about inadvertently knocking one over when moving backwards to get a better view of something. Woohoo.

The marriage of Henry VIII and Katherine Parr has been re-enacted daily there and I have to say that the guy wandering about as Henry VIII was WICKED. He was hilarious and really interact well with the general public. Didn’t see much of Katherine Parr as I was too busy wandering about doing audio tours to be in the right place at the right time to catch the rest of the festivities.

In the evening, I attended the discussion on “Henry VIII on Stage and Screen” (chaired by Dan Snow and featuring Thomas S Freeman, Gregory Thompson, Greg Walker and Susan Doran), which was way interesting and like the giant geek that I am, I remembered to bring a notebook to make notes. Although it’s not just because I’m a geek, it’s because I tend to forget earlier points when I get caught up in the later ones 😀

Henry VIII is one of those kings that children remember because he got married 6 times and he had an extreme fondness for execution. Which is great. The multiple marriages thing kind of makes him more accessible, in the same way that Elizabeth Taylor is accessible. Or maybe not. At least the whole set up of his family – different children from different mothers and wives who became essentially sisters and all the wacky hijinks that went on back then are kind of a familiar story.
The whole hard-on for execution and Henry’s famed temper are also one of those things that show up a heck of a lot on telly and in film – I guess because it makes for interesting viewing (and maybe more so for the current generation who are all obviously apparently hopped up on violent computer games and similarly violent music! Or something :P)
Interestingly, something that was pointed out and something that I’ve not really thought about was that Henry’s attitude towards his wives and daughters changes depending on the time the play/film was written and tends to be more in line with the thinking contemporary to that of the play or film.

I can’t help but wonder that there is a heck of a lot missing from the picture of Henry VIII that most people (myself included even after attending this talk!) have of him. Not much is said about his life other than for his marriages, his children, his rage and his gluttony, at least in a form that is accessible to the masses. I guess The Tudors is helping to “adjust” the idea that Henry was this big fat angry bloke and that in his youth at least he was apparently hot and charismatic, though some of that has to be the allure of power perhaps. I’ll probably do more reading about him (to add to the HUGE stack of WW1 and WW2 books I’m ploughing through).

So, to summarise – Hampton Court Palace was wicked and the discussion I went to was well cool. As it were.

And I even remembered to check out an essay about Henry VIII that was mentioned during the evening! Mostly because I wrote that one down, but it does bring up some interesting points.

And then…. I got home and realised I was wearing my “I put the cute in execute” t-shirt. Muahahahaha.

Author: rachel

Rachel, 32, half-girl, half-robot.