London What's On

England v France, 1520-2020, The Rematch

England v France, 1520-2020, The Rematch at Hampton Court Palace, 23-31 May 2020!

500 years ago in 1520, Henry VIII of England met François I of France near Calais for an astonishingly grand European festival, designed to improve relations between the two great rival kingdoms. The competing royal dynasties, along with thousands of their courtiers, enjoyed a splendid fortnight of feasts, tournaments, masquerades and religious services amidst specially built, and incredibly elaborate, temporary palaces. So magnificent was the occasion that it became known as ‘The Field of Cloth of Gold’.
From 10 April 2020, Historic Royal Palaces will be celebrating the anniversary with a special exhibition, Gold and Glory: Henry VIII and the French King.  Focusing on the events of 1520, it will reveal the characters and stories behind the organisation and festivities. On display will be fascinating paintings from the Royal Collection, commissioned to commemorate the event itself at the end of Henry VIII’s reign. Visitors will also be able to explore surviving artworks, objects and documents from the event itself, and from the rival courts of Tudor and Valois. Such objects include the original letter sent to Thomas Wolsey from François I requesting a meeting with Henry VIII and a jousting cheque from the festivities. 
The exhibition will be held at the heart of the Tudor palace of Hampton Court, in the rooms built for Thomas Wolsey - Henry VIII’s chief minister, Cardinal to the Pope, and one of the principal organisers of the Field of Cloth of Gold. The exhibition will run from 10 April to 31 August 2020.
For nine days at the end of May, Hampton Court Palace will provide the location for The Re-match.  Henry VIII invites François I to visit his pleasure palace for a festival of jousting, wrestling and foot combat as well as feasting and entertainment. This is diplomacy but deadly competition.  England v France!
Visitors will cheer on their chosen “team” at the sporting contests and cultural entertainments. They can wander through the encampments to sample food, explore the crafts that service the brutal competition, such as the armourer, who will be busy repairing the dents and damage from the jousts, as well as play themed games, and enjoy catch talks and presentations in the expert zone.
Jousts will be held three times a day, on all nine days.  This will not be choreographed but genuine jousting contests, in which no one can predict what will happen and the winners and losers will be decided on the day.  Competitions of wrestling and foot combat will take place, as well as light-hearted accounts of the two courts in a theatre tent performed by the mischievous ‘players’.
Throughout August 2020, visitors will also be able to test their Tudor sporting skills at the Great Tudor Games. Under the guardianship of royal courtiers, visitors will be able to build their knowledge and skills of traditional Tudor games including jousting and archery!
A visual delight with recreated tents, portable palaces, a wine fountain in full flow and a kite flying above the tournament field, this is an absolute must for group, coach and tour operators planning their 2020 brochures and itineraries.  
All activities will be included in admission to Hampton Court Palace.  Bookings and tickets will be on sale January 2020.