Kings and Queens
Image: A re-enactor playing Henry VIII with a girl and a boy dressed in Tudor style clothing

Interview with Henry VIII at Eltham Palace

We sent young English Heritage Members Amelia and Damon to interview the Tudor king at his former home, Eltham Palace in London. Watch our video to find out how they got on when they took him on at his favourite sport – and learn all about Henry’s time at Eltham.

Watch The Video


Amelia: Can you tell us about your life? 
Ah, I grew up in this palace, in the court of my mother, Queen Elizabeth of York. The festivities, the feasts, the pageants this hall has seen!

Amelia: Do you live here now?
No, not now. Although I still visit. I do hold audience in this hall, for it is good for the people to see of their king.

Image: A re-enactor playing Henry VIII with a girl and a boy dressed in Tudor style clothing

Damon: Why so many wives?
Impudent boy! But I will forgive it. For I am in a generous mood. I did marry my first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to have a son. She did fail me. And then I did marry Anne Boleyn. Again, no son.

Amelia: Why did you behead Anne Boleyn?
For she was of the devil. And then I had two further unhappy marriages. But now, I am married to the kindly queen Catherine Parr. Indeed, she is most kindly and does care and tend to me.

Amelia: What’s wrong with your leg?
Ah, in 1536, whilst jousting, I did fall from my horse. My leg is most incommoded. It does cause me a great deal of pain.

Damon: When you’re not busy ruling the country, what do you do for fun?
Well, to answer that, I must show you… Let us to the butts!

Image: inside the medieval great hall at Eltham Palace
Inside the medieval great hall at Eltham Palace


Henry VIII grew up at Eltham Palace with his elder brother and two sisters. After he became king he extended the palace, building a new tiltyard for jousting, new rooms and a new chapel. The chapel was decorated in a lot of detail, with expensive gilt leaves (covered in gold!) and oak panelling. He also created a new garden with a bowling green and archery butts.

At the beginning of Henry’s reign, Eltham Palace was a very important place. Cardinal Wolsey took his oath to become Lord Chancellor there and later he wrote the Eltham Ordinances there too. These were a new set of rules for the people in Henry VIII’s court.

Henry was the last monarch to spend a significant amount of time at Eltham Palace. From the 1530s, he started to improve Hampton Court Palace to the west of London. He also spent more time at Greenwich Palace, as it was easier to travel from there to Westminster by boat along the River Thames to meet with Parliament.

Image: a family enjoys the outside space at Eltham Palace


Visit Eltham Palace to see Henry VIII's childhood home for yourself!

Eltham was presented to the medieval King Edward II in 1305. It became one of the most favoured royal palaces with 1,000 acres of deer park.

During the 1930s Eltham Palace was transformed into a striking mansion by eccentric millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld, so it looks very different today compared to during Henry VIII’s time. However, you can still look out from the minstrels’ gallery in the magnificent great hall, where the kings and queens that called Eltham Palace home would have entertained their visitors.

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