|Copyright Helen Newall|
One of those friends was his primary adviser in the early years of Henry's sovereignty. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was a man with tastes as extravagant as the King's and he also had the means to indulge them. When the King saw Hampton Court Palace, Cardinal Wolsey’s sumptuous, Thames-side property, he envied him of it. Knowing that he was on uncertain terms with the king at the moment, having been unable to secure for the king the divorce he so desire, Wolsey offered Hampton Court Palace to him. Henry accepted the generous gift but did not reinstate Wolsey in his favor.
Once he owned the palace, Henry set about remodeling. One of the most beautiful reconstructions was to the Great Hall. The Great Hall was a large chamber where the king dined in public and where entertainments were often held. The hall, like everything else in Henry's court, was to be well-appointed to represent his power and glory.
Historian Neville Williams claimed that masons worked round the clock for five years to complete the rebuilding of the hall to Henry's showy satisfaction. The room would have been overpowering to the senses, the tastes and smells of rich foods and spices, the feel of lush wood paneling and tightly woven tapestries, the music of players, the courtly flirtations. But high above the heads of the guests, tucked into the dark corners of the roof beams, lurked some of the Great Hall's most interesting features of all. Fine embellishments had been carved into the ceiling beams, among them an HA crest for Henry and Anne Boleyn which remains to this day, but especially intriguing are the Eavesdroppers, carved into the ceiling beams and other places as well.
|photo copyright Felicity Boardman|
At the Tudor Court, it was better to see nothing, hear nothing, and say nothing till you were in private chambers where eavesdroppers, one hoped, did not as easily lurk.
To learn more about Sandra's Ladies in Waiting Series, set in Tudor England, please visit www.sandrabyrd.com. For blogs on England and English history, visit: http://sandrabyrd.com/blog/