Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reliving The Tudors

Nothing makes me happier than a really good museum. And now that I’ve had the opportunity to go to so many different museums (all in a matter of weeks), I am happy to tell you that Hampton Court Palace is a really good museum.

In the beginning, Henry, Katherine,
and Wolsey were all on the same footing
Hampton Court was originally built by Cardinal Wolsey (and yes, I’ve mentioned him before in previous posts), but the newly built palace transferred to Henry VIII after Wolsey’s “fall from grace,” shall we say. It soon became the popular summer hangout for the Tudor Court. And so because of its origins, a lot of the exhibits center around Henry VIII and the typical workings of a Tudor royal palace. Which is great for me, since I seem to have an obsession with everything Tudor (as does most of London in general).

The exhibits, as well as the audio tour, are extremely well done. Some of their exhibits are organized so that they present the palace in the exact way it looked when Henry VIII lied there, with tapestries, paintings, and furniture all from the correct time period on display.

After so many miscarriages, Katherine's throne is
placed away from Henry's and Wolsey's, signifying a rift in their relationship
Yet there were other exhibits that told a story through strategically placed quotes, symbols, and illustrations. For example, there was a special exhibit on the early life of Henry VIII, with an emphasis on the three most important people in his life at the time, Katherine of Aragon (his first wife) and Cardinal Wolsey (his chief minister). Special wooden thrones were placed in each room to represent the three characters (with a description of them on the back of each), and as the story moved along through the different rooms the thrones changed positions in order to give a visual representation of their relationship towards each other as time passed. It was very well thought out, something new that I hadn’t seen before. It made me realize all of the thought that is put into a museum exhibit.

And of course, the royal impersonators wandering the Palace also made my day. Nothing beats Henry VIII flirting with you ;)

Henry VIII

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