Henry VIII’s Crown
The crown was melted down after the civil war in 1649. Now it has been recreated…
The Tudor imperial crown – a crown with arches – was originally made for either Henry VIII or his father. It was meant as a more elaborate version of St. Edwards Crown, which was traditionally kept at Westminster Abbey; from here it was “lent” to the king for his use at the large religious feasts plus at the State Opening of Parliament. But kings needed more crowns – for processions or while at war; hence the “new” crown, which later came to be used in the coronations of his children.
The Tudor crown was first described in 1521 with later inventories (1547 -49) adding even more details. Further, Daniel Mytens carefully painted it in his portrait of Charles I (National Portrait Gallery). Another painting of the crown may be found in the remarkable mural of Henry VIII, which was found last year at the former home of Bishop Cranmer in Milverton.The gold in the crown weighed 3,4 kilo and it was embellished with 58 rubies, 28 diamonds, 19 sapphires, 2 emeralds, and 168 pearls. Thus, although it was melted down after the revolution in 1648, the details of its design has always been rather well known.
This crown has now been faithfully recreated by the Crown Jeweller’s master craftsmen on commission by the “History Royal Palaces”, an independent charity in charge of five royal palaces, amongst those Hampton Court. The crown will be exhibited there in the Royal Pew, allowing visitors to enjoy access to this balcony for the first time in seven years. The Royal Pew at the Chapel Royal has recently undergone extensive conservation through which the original frame and panelling of the pew was discovered. End October it will hold the new exhibit.
The replica crown has been designed according to detailed research by Dr. Kent Rawlinson, who is Curator at Hampton Court Palace. In the press release he says: “Using the original Tudor inventories and Mytens’ painting of the crown, we’ve been able to identify not only the basic shape of the gold frame of the crown, but also the original position of each of the 344 jewels and pearls. It’s remarkable to be able to know and discover so much about an object which was destroyed over 350 years ago – bringing a lost English royal treasure back to life!”
The replica crown has been handcrafted in silver gilt with fine metalwork detail, and set with 344 specially selected jewels – a mix of pearls, precious and semi-precious stones bought in the Far East. The only substitute was rock crystal for the large diamonds. Each stone has been cut according to medieval tradition with a curved domed surface. In addition five tiny enamelled figures are set within each fleur-de-lis, representing the Virgin and Child, St George, and the statuettes of the three English kings, which were added after the reformation, signifying the new status of Henry VIII as supreme head of the English Church.
The price of the recreation is as yet undisclosed, but was paid for by the charity.
The Inventory of King Henry VIII: Textiles and Dress
Maria Hayward and Philip Ward
Harvey Miller Publishers 2012