Henry VIII portrait and bed of his parents revealed in new Tudor display at Hever Castle

By Culture24 Reporter | 21 March 2015

A portrait of a young Henry VIII joins the bed of his parents in a new display at Anne Boleyn's former home

a photo of a bedstead and portrait of a Henry VIII on an easel
The portrait of Henry VIII next to his parents' bed at Hever Castle© Courtesy Hever Castle
Hever Castle, the Kent childhood home of Anne Boleyn, has recently unveiled two Tudor treasures as a new exhibition exploring the world of Henry VIII opens in the historic house.

A portrait of Henry VIII as a young man, believed to be a 16th century copy of an original painting by Joos van Cleve held in the Royal collection, has been acquired for the stately home in Kent by art dealer and Antiques Roadshow painting expert Philip Mould.

Unveiled last week in the Queen’s Chamber, the portrait shows the vigorous young king at the time he pursued and then married the young Anne Boleyn, the daughter of courtier Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard.

The likeness dates to the early 1530s and predates the most widely known images of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein. It joins a collection that Mould describes as “the greatest privately owned public collection of portraits that tells the story of the Tudors.”

As well as possessing a portrait of each of Henry’s six wives, the fortified medieval manor house also owns the only surviving portrait of Henry’s older brother, Arthur.

Arthur’s untimely death, in 1502, paved the way for Henry’s accession to the throne and the quest - via six wives - for a male heir, beginning with Arthur’s widow, Catherine of Aragon.

Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn, was born sometime between 1501 and 1507 and spent her childhood at Hever, which had belonged to the Boleyn family since 1462. Her fateful reign as Queen of England began in June 1533 and ended on the chopping block in May 1536. A room, traditionally thought to have been her bedroom, at Hever includes an original half domed 15th century ceiling.

As well as the Henry VIII portrait, a new exhibition at the castle, called A Bed of Roses, focuses on a medieval oak bed frame believed to be the marriage bed of Henry VIII’s parents, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.

It is thought to be the only piece of furniture to survive from the Tudor Palace of Westminster and the only medieval royal bed in existence.

With his marriage to Elizabeth, Henry, who had defeated Richard III at Bosworth in 1485, effectively united the houses of Lancaster and York. Their marriage was a successful one and they produced seven children.

Their ornately-carved marital bed frame has recently been authenticated by TV presenter, architect and art historian Dr Jonathan Foyle with the help of a DNA analysis of its timbers, studies of its paint and a careful examination of its carving.

The bed is on display in the Long Gallery until November 22 2015. The portrait of Henry VIII is currently displayed in the Queens’ Chamber and is now a permanent fixture.

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This is a wonderful work of Art, whatever it's provenance. It becomes so much more valuable to so many people whose reputations will be greatly enhanced by a chain of assumptions of what little is known, if the Royal connection can be proved. So I ask myself "cui bono"?
No details of the research so far released have proved beyond doubt that this bed was in the Royal Bedchamber on 18th January, 1486.
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