Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Visit Henry VIII's Monumental Tomb

Sorry, but that's a trick headline! You can't visit Henry VIII's great monument or memorial, because there isn't one. He had planned one, but hadn't built it before he died and no one built it after him.

More from the English Historical Novels blog:

Henry's son, Edward VI has a tomb fit for a monarch at Westminster Abbey, as does Elizabeth who shares her grave with her half-sister Queen Mary I. Even Henry’s bastard son, Henry Fitzroy, lies in some majesty in St Michael’s church at Framlingham in Suffolk.

Many of Henry's VIII's contemporaries have superior monuments to their king. Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, third Duke of Norfolk has a sumptuous memorial at Framlingham Church, and Henry’s great rival King Francis I has a huge effigy in the Basilica of St Denis in Paris with a separate, gigantic urn to house his heart.

And Henry’s last victim, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who was beheaded just one day before the king died, has a resplendent effigy marking the tomb he shares with his wife Frances, at Framlingham in Suffolk.

Henry’s elder brother Arthur, who was Catherine of Aragon's first husband and died before he could ascend the throne, has an ostentatious tomb in a designated chapel. I could go on, and on but I will resist.

Henry’s parents, grandparents, wives, children, cousins, siblings, friends; most of the Tudors rest in splendour and, I hope, peace.

It is only Henry, who in life was the most ostentatious of them all, that lacks the majesty of a proper monument.
Please pardon my snarkiness, but perhaps Henry VIII does have the monument appropriate to his reign and its accomplishments: the Church of England.


  1. I may be mistaken but hadn't he planned to use Cardinal Wolsey's sarcophagus?--the one that was ultimately came to hold the remains of Nelson in St Paul's.

    1. The link I inserted provides this detail: "Henry, never one to let a good thing go to waste, lost no time in acquiring elements of Wolsey’s tomb for his own use, and Cromwell, who was now the project manager, made several payments to Italian and English metal founders. A giant effigy of the king was produced in gilt bronze and work continued until the last decade of Henry’s reign when war with France and Scotland put pressure on the royal coffers. By this time the project was well underway. In his will Henry stated that his tomb was 'well onward and almost made therefore already with a fair grate about it, in which we will also the bones of our true and loving wife Queen Jane be put also.’
      But with the king out of the picture the project for his grand burial was no longer of primary importance, even to his children."