Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Chapel

The Chapel at Hampton Court Palace has witnessed many important events during the Tudor time. Among other things, it was here that Archbishop Cranmer secretly handed Henry VIII a letter containing all the details of Katherine Howard's affairs. Prince Edward was baptized here shortly after his birth in 1537.

It was Cardinal Wolsey who had the Chapel extended to its current size. The extraordinary ceiling was added during the reign of Henry VIII in 1535. There are clear signs that the ceiling was built by a Tudor monarch. At the very top of the walls the red and white rose of the house of Tudor has been carved out as well as Margaret Beaufort's portcullis which Henry had chosen to take over after his grandmother's death. The large window of stained glass are rich on symbols: Henry VIII's patron saint - Saint Henry the Emperor - is joined by Saint Catherine, Saint Thomas Becket and Saint Anne. The royal family itself is also featured - Henry VIII, his wife and Cardinal Wolsey are kneeling in prayer. It was originally created for Wolsey by Erhard Schön of Nürnberg but he fell from favour before he could enjoy it. The monarch and his family would sit in the Royal Pew above the rest of the congregation.
It is strange that this church was not stripped of its rich décor during the Reformation.

One of the large stained glass windows (it might just be
Cardinal Wolsey at the top and Henry VIII in the middle)

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