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13 November 2014

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You are in: London > History > History Features > Greenwich celebrates royal roots

Old Royal Naval College

Old Royal Naval College

Greenwich celebrates royal roots

Maritime Greenwich prepares to celebrate one of its most famous residents.

The 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne is to be marked with a range of events at Maritime Greenwich in June.

Henry was born at Greenwich Palace in 1491 and went on two marry two of his six wives there. His daughters Mary and Elizabeth, who would later become monarchs themselves, were also born at the palace.

The palace remained one of his favourite residences throughout his life, allowing him to combine both his royal duties and his personal pleasures. As a king, the palace gave him a home within easy reach of the new shipbuilding yards that he had built in Deptford and Woolwich. As an avid sportsman, it offered him the vast expanse of Greenwich Park in which he could hunt deer.

Although the palace Henry would have known is no longer standing, the land on which Greenwich Palace once stood has since become a world heritage site and the home of the Old Royal Naval College.

In June, it will host a range of events to celebrate Henry’s accession to the throne in 1509.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII was born in Greenwich.

Talking Tudor

On 2 June, the chief executive of English Heritage, Dr Simon Thurley, will give a lecture about Henry VIII and Greenwich Palace at the Queen Mary Undercroft. But he won’t be the only person in Maritime Greenwich talking about the king.

Guided tours of the site will be given a Tudor flavour during June, with visitors able to learn more about the history of Greenwich palace and the royals linked to it as they explore the grounds. These special tours are only available Thursday through Sunday and will not be offered on 13-14 June.

Greenwich Tour Guides are also getting in on the act by using their daily walks around the site to tell stories about Henry VIII.

Henry VIII and Greenwich

  • Henry built a new banqueting hall and armouries during his time at Greenwich Palace.
  • Greenwich was the last place Henry VIII ever jousted. After he was thrown off his horse and knocked unconscious in 1536, he never took part in the sport again.
  • The remains of Greenwich Palace’s chapel were discovered during excavations in 2006. Archaeologists found the glazed black and white tiles from the chapel floor around four feet below ground.

Meet Henry VIII

On 13 and 14 June, the Old Royal Naval College will be offering visitors the chance to try their hand at a range of favourite Tudor pastimes, including dancing and archery. Children will also be able to take part in flag making workshops and have their faces painted.

Eagle eyed visitors may also spot Henry and his feisty second wife Anne Boleyn wandering around the grounds. Male visitors may want to be careful that she doesn’t drop her handkerchief on the grass in front of them.

During a walk in Greenwich Park, Anne’s handkerchief once fell to the ground in front of a nobleman, leading to her being arrested and sent to the Tower. Her Tudor contemporaries believed the incident demonstrated her adulterous tendencies and she was eventually beheaded.

If you survive an encounter with the King, a ‘Tudor food court’ will be dishing up hearty food to those enjoying the festivities, including the lavish mounted hunting parade. There will also be a demonstration of foot combat, a sport which Henry himself enjoyed as a young man.

For something more soothing, music fans can listen to a performance by The Sixteen, a choral group featured in BBC Four’s Sacred Music series. They will be taking their inspiration from Henry VIII when they sing at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel.

last updated: 19/03/2009 at 15:59
created: 19/03/2009

You are in: London > History > History Features > Greenwich celebrates royal roots

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