Make a date with Henry VIII

Editorial Staff Exhibitions

Miscellany manuscript by Thomas Trevelyon, 1608. Folger Shakespeare Library

Yesterday marked the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne. To mark the occasion, several museums and institutions have organized events and exhibitions to celebrate England’s most notorious monarch. Here The Magazine ANTIQUES selects eight great ways to revel in the infamous Tudor king’s legacy:

Portrait of Henry VIII, c. 1509. Berger Collection at the Denver Art Museum.
  1. Vivat Rex! An exhibition on view at the Grolier Club until May 2 brings together books, manuscripts, letters and prints from Henry VIII’s court including items that belonged to the king himself. The exhibition will travel to the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC in 2010. For more information visit
  2. Tonight, April 22, Dr. Dale Hoak, Chancellor Professor of History at the College of William and Mary, and author of the forthcoming book Henry VIII (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2010) will speak on “The Legacy of Henry VIII” in a lecture sponsored by the Royal Oak Foundation at the Grolier Club, 6:00 pm. For tickets call (800) 913-6565, ext. 201, or visit
  3. On April 23 Henry VIII: Man and Monarch opens at the British Library. This exhibition, guest curated by Tudor scholar Dr. David Starkey, features 250 works including the king’s own Prayer Book, the earliest surviving portrait of Henry VIII dating from about 1509 (on loan from the Denver Museum and shown in the UK for the first time), and Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours. For more information visit
  4. At the Morgan Library on April 24, 7:00 pm catch a screening of A Man for All Seasons (Zinnemann, 1966), the Oscar winning adaptation of Robert Bolt’s play about Sir Thomas More’s defense of papal authority against King Henry VIII, starring Robert Shaw, Paul Scofiled, and Vanessa Redgrave. Free with same day museum admission, for more information visit
  5. At Henry’s royal residence at Hampton Court Palace, reenactments of the king’s wedding to his sixth wife Kateryn Parr will take place through December 2009. A special exhibition of Henry VIII’s wives that features portraits and personal effects is also on view through August 3. For more information visit
  6. The Tower of London is host to a unique exhibition of arms and armor titled Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill, which is on view through January 2010. Among the highlights is a suit of armor on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that is believed to be the last example made for the king. For more information visit
  7. On April 25 at 7:00 pm UK Channel Four presents the fourth and final installment of the new documentary series Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant presented by Dr. David Starkey. Previous episodes can be watched online here (in the UK only), but we hope will soon be available to rent or buy in the US.
  8. The drama and history of Henry VIII’s life can also be appreciated with a good book—from scholarly texts to indulgent biographies. Though we hate to pick just one, Philippa Gregory’s The Boleyn Inheritance (2006) is a staff favorite.
Wilton anime armor, c. 1544. Metropolitan Museum of Art.