Thursday, April 23, 2009

Newsflash: The King is Dead, Long Live the King!
Ok, so the newsflash is 500 years late. Yesterday marked 500 years since Henry VII died and was succeeded by his young son, Henry VIII. For anyone who loves history it's an exciting anniversary, and I was therefore very pleased to be able to attend the launch of Dr David Starkey's new exhibition 'Henry VIII: Man and Monarch' at the British Library last night.

It is an incredible collection of exhibits, including one of the King's love letters to Anne Boleyn and the desk on which he is thought to have written it. The letter was, in Starkey's words "nicked by the Vatican from Anne's desk" and has been lent by them to be put on view for the first time. Starkey was on typically good form in his speech, managing to slip in criticism of Labour's Budget, and of some of his fellow historians.

Greenwich Borough of course played a huge role in the history of Henry's life and reign - as well as being born at Greenwich Palace, he spent much of his childhood at Eltham Palace, and founded the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich. This latter point is being explored in another exhibition at the Greenwich Heritage Centre, which I'll post a report on tonight. There are a range of other commemorative events this year, and I'll be aiming to do the whole Henry 'tour' - partly because I am chairing a scrutiny review of heritage in Greenwich, but mainly because it's so fascinating.

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