In June 2020, it will be 500 years since King Henry VIII of England met King Francis I of France near Calais, for an astonishingly grand European Renaissance festival, designed to improve relations between the two great rival kingdoms.
The competing royal dynasties, along with thousands of their courtiers and knights, enjoyed a splendid fortnight of feasts, tournaments, masquerades and religious services amidst specially built, and incredibly elaborate, temporary tent palaces. So magnificent was the affair that it became known as ‘The Field of Cloth of Gold’.
From 10th April 2020, Historic Royal Palaces will be celebrating the anniversary with a special exhibition, focusing on the events of 1520, and revealing the characters and stories behind the organisation and festivities.
Visitors will be able to explore the fascinating paintings from The Royal Collection, commissioned to commemorate the event at the end of Henry VIII’s reign alongside surviving artworks, objects and documents from the event itself, and from the rival courts of Tudor and Valois.
The exhibition will be held at the heart of the Tudor palace of Hampton Court, in the rooms built for Thomas Wolsey - Henry VIII’s chief minister, Cardinal to the Pope and one of the principal organisers of the Field of Cloth of Gold. The exhibition will open in time for Easter 2020, and continue until the end of August.
From 23rd -31st May, Hampton Court Palace will host the “re-match” of the festival. Complete with jousting, wrestling and foot combat, this is diplomacy but deadly competition. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in Tudor England and choose their “team” to cheer on at the sporting contests and cultural entertainments.
There will also be opportunities to sample food, learn the crafts needed to survive, such as armourer, who will be repairing the dents and damage from the jousts, artists and expert zones with talks and presentations.
Jousts will be held three times a day, on all nine days. This will not be orchestrated, so different outcomes, results and winners will happen every day. Competitions of wrestling and foot combat will take place, a cultural war in a theatre tent between ‘players’.
An absolute must for group, coach and tour operators planning their 2020 brochures and itineraries, this event promises to be a feast for the eyes!
All activities will be included in admission to Hampton Court Palace.
Further details will follow throughout 2019.
Pricing for summer 2020 will be released by the end of September 2019.
Man & Monarch HENRY VIII by Susan Doran and David Starkey, The British Library 2009, P. 93 - 97
Historic Royal Palaces
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built.
Historic Royal Palaces receives no funding from the Government or from the Crown, but depends on the support of visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors.
The palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and Historic Royal Palaces manages them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Historic Royal Palaces believes in four principles:
- Guardianship: giving the palaces a future as long and valuable as their past
- Discovery: encouraging people to make links with their own lives and today’s world
- Showmanship: doing everything with panache
- Independence: having their own point of view and finding new ways to do their work
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