This exciting three-year venture brings together a cross-disciplinary team of scholars and technical specialists from both the academic and heritage sectors to explore, evaluate and reconceptualise Henry VIII’s progresses. Led by Historic Royal Palaces in collaboration with the Universities of York and Newcastle, the main research focus will be on the logistics of Henry’s journeys around his realm and their performance as a spectacle, their significance in demonstrating kingship and queenship, and their legacy for the study and interpretation of the Tudors in schools and at heritage sites.
The project will map Henry VIII’s complete itinerary for the first time and the associated landscapes, the routes taken, the venues visited and the palaces, country houses and ecclesiastical institutions that accommodated the royal household. The architecture of these and the archaeology of certain ‘lost’ palaces and former monastic buildings will be explored and digitally visualised, while the spatial and repertoire considerations for sacred and secular musical performance will be tested and recreated in appropriate venues. Attention is especially on the communities associated with the progresses, not only the relationship between the crown and the courtiers, clergy and civic hosts, but also the peripatetic Chapel Royal and hidden histories of understudied groups (servants, suppliers, craftspersons and musicians). We will be working closely with our project partners to consider the challenges for heritage organisations and the ways they can assist in uniting communities.
Henry VIII on Tour will thus be presenting new stories, posing and answering innovative research questions, and hopefully inspiring greater curiosity about local places and heritage sites. As well as contributing to our understanding of Henry VIII, his wives and court and the relationship with his people in historical terms, the project will be reflecting on what monarchy and visibility means to us in the 21st century.