King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I , Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Katherine Howard as well as Mary Queen of Scots and King James I were presented to the public in the Tournament Gallery. This exciting event was accompanied by fabulous Tudor music to create an exciting and dynamic period atmosphere.
‘Tudor Times’ at the Royal Armouries includes knights in armour, stunning stunt horse-riding plus Family Fun Days throughout the whole of the Easter holidays.
The Tournament Gallery is a fabulous large hall which contains wonderful artefacts including the iconic centrepiece – Henry VIII’s almost unbelievable Horned Helmet. This strange headpiece was a gift from the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I.
The visor on the helmet is in the form of a grotesque human face, with ram’s horns”. Its etched facial decorations bring it to life; stubble on the chin, crow’s feet around the eyes and rounded brass spectacles. The spectacles look more Victorian than Tudor – Henry may have worn this peculiar horned helmet at court pageants, rather than in combat.
During combat you can wonder if King Henry’s opponents held back in case they injured the King, but apparently he was an excellent warrior, whether on horseback tilting or fighting on foot.
A screen in the hall shows the Field of Cloth of Gold. This is the name given to a place in Balinghem, between Guînes and Ardres, in France, near Calais. It was the site of a meeting that took place from 7 June to 24 June 1520, between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France. The meeting was arranged to increase the bond of friendship between the two kings following the Anglo-French treaty of 1514. It was called the Field of the Cloth of Gold because the King’s and their retinue’s tents were made of gold cloth. The tournament took months of planning and ended happily with the signing of a peace treaty between the two powers. Henry knew how to put on a good show!
The gallery has several small suits of armour. These were made for children – youngsters often started combat practice as early as 8 years old you may be surprised to know.
Another eye-catching headpiece is the Moustache Masked Helmet which has a facemask for show. It has a wide curling moustache below a large hooked nose cover. The facemask is removable, revealing an inner barred visor inside so it can be used in combat.
Our show was a popular event with over 200 people attending. The audience included quite a lot of children. They were very interested in the show as most of them are studying the Tudors at school. A young girl called Emily said “I enjoyed the show very much and wish all the girls in my class had gone and seen the wonderful costumes”.
I was also very pleased that some of my family who live in Yorkshire came to see the costumes – they loved the show and it was great to meet up with them.
I am so pleased everyone really enjoyed the occasion. It was wonderful to stage a Tudor Fashion Show in a room containing actual items Henry would have worn – it was a truly magical event.
I would like to thank all the staff at the Armouries for their help and support in making the show such a success particularly Kate Humble who is the Visitor Experience Manager. – Thank you Kate.
I have included photographs of the event below courtesy of Leeds Photographer – Michael Kitchen – thank you Michael!