Jonathan Rhys-Myers and Joely Richardson's BBC Tudors outfits star at Royal Armouries in Leeds

By Culture24 Reporter | 12 September 2011
A photo of a pink lacey dress on a mannequin
© Board of Trustees of the Armouries
Exhibition: The Tudors, Royal Armouries, Leeds, until November 30 2011

From Henry VIII’s spider-style horned helmet, presented to the blood-basking King in 1514, to the decadently invincible foot combat armours of 500 years ago, the catwalk on display inside the Royal Armouries’ Tournament Gallery takes some upstaging.

The BBC took a successful shot at it with The Tudors, a BBC Two series for which 500 costumes were made, worn by a roster of stars during the well-received run, Emmy Award-winning run.

Eight of them, including outfits donned by Jonathan Rhys-Myers as the ravishing ruler, Joely Richardson as the court-facing Katherine Parr and (slightly improbably) Joss Stone as a courting Anne of Cleves, have now gone on display here.

“The Tudors are possibly the most flamboyant and well-known of the Royal Houses,” observes the Armouries’ Creative Director Peter Armstrong, who devised this showcase after securing the loans from designer Joan Bergin, series writer Michael Hirst and previous recipients the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth.

“They are popular with all ages – particularly children, who are always captivated by the romance, treachery and sheer audacity of Henry VIII and the stories of his ill-fated wives. Where better to stage them than alongside the horned helmet?”

Bergin’s outfits are infused with skill – the fabrics, braids and buttons earned him the personal gong of the 2010 Emmy for Outstanding Costume for a series – and he says he wanted to make people re-envisage each one as “sexy and foxy” rather than outlandish.

Seeing these small screen sensations in the silk should allow fashionistas to decide close up.

  • Open 10am-5pm. Admission free.

More pictures from the display:


A photo of a pair of hands attending to a dark blue corset-style dress on a mannequin
Curators have prepared the dresses for display after securing their loan from designer Joan Bergin
© Board of Trustees of the Armouries
A photo of an elaborate Tudor dress in dark red, brown and white floral designs
This costume was worn by Joss Stone to mimic Anne of Cleves
© Board of Trustees of the Armouries
A photo of a white Tudor dress
Claire MacCauley played Princess Elizabeth in this elegant number© Board of Trustees of the Armouries
A close up photo of the chest and neckline of a male Tudor coat
Jonathan Rhys-Myers portrayed Henry VIII by wearing this costume© Board of Trustees of the Armouries
A photo of Tudor dresses on mannequins in a gallery in red, grey and black
The display is at the Armouries until the end of November 2011
© Board of Trustees of the Armouries
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