Greenwich: Nailing Down the Jousting

Posted by Ian McDiarmid, City of London Tour Guide on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 Under: Tudor

Greenwich: Nailing Down the Jousting

Henry VIII built the first permanent tiltyard (for jousting) in England at his palace in Greenwich - and everyone knew where it was more or less. This was because we have lots of paintings from the seventeenth century showing it in relation to the Queen’s House, which was built between 1616 and 1635 by architect Inigo Jones and still stands today. The Tudor Palace, along with its tiltyard fell into serious decay during the Civil War and after, and its remnants were finally pulled down in Charles II’s reign.

There remained a problem though: the various paintings differed in its exact position. This was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction when in the nineteenth century workers extending the railway from London Bridge which then ended at Greenwich station found some Tudor bricks, and it was thought that these came from the bases of two towers in the tiltyard.

A few months ago, though, researchers from the University of Greenwich using ground-penetrating radar found the distinctive marks of the towers. The results of their labours, which were released in October 2020, have placed the location in front (to the north) of the Queen’s House) 100m further towards the eastern boundary of what is now the grounds of the Maritime Museum.

Henry’s tiltyard was spectacular. Two grand towers with octagonal bases (whose footprint was thus distinctive once located) were joined by a large gallery, forming a grandstand from which to watch the events. In front of this was a long rail running down the centre of the yard, which divided the riders as they galloped towards each other at great speed.

Henry’s last joust took place in this yard in 1536. He was thrown from his horse, and his steed fell on top of him. Contemporary accounts imply the king was unconscious for two hours. It is likely that Henry also suffered an injury to his leg, causing an ulcer which never healed.

This in turn may have had a sinister influence on events at his court. Henry was well-known for executing discarded favourites and people he perceived to be a threat to him. The last of these was Henry Howard Earl of Surrey who was beheaded on 19 January 1547, His father, Thomas Howard Duke of Norfolk was due to meet the same fate on 29 January, but luckily for him the king had died the day before at the age of 55.

Some historians have speculated that Henry VIII’s cruelty was due in part to the constant pain he may well have been in following the accident in Greenwich, though the earlier Henry of pre-jousting fall times does not appear to have been particularly reticent when it came to putting people to death either. Perhaps on more solid ground is the fact that after the accident the king probably stopped exercising and became the obese figure of his later portraits by Holbein.

In : Tudor 

Tags: greenwich  tudors  palaces  ian mcdiarmid 
comments powered by Disqus


"online bookings' cpd #earthrise 17th 1830s 18thcentury 1930s 20th 50th a abbey adele afternoon afternoon tea age ages alastair ancient and animals annie anniversary apps architecture arsenal art arts attack autumn awards baker bank bankside barbican barrier bathhouses battersea bazalgette bear beasts becket bells bexley bishopsgate black blackfriars blackout blitz bloomsbury bombers book books borough bowie breakfast brewery brick bridge britain british bronze bronze age brunch buckingham burger burlesque buses cab cabaret cake canal canary captain care carl carol caroline carols cathedral cemetery cenotaph century chapman charles charlton cheap cheapside cheese childhood chips chiswick chocolate christmas church city city of london clapham clerkenwell cocktails coffee coffeehouses common company concert corporate covent covent garden covid-19 cream crime cross crown cruise crystal danson david davy day december dental deptford dick dickens dinner dinosaurs do dock dockland museum dragons dreamtime druitt earth east eat eating eats ecommerce edward edwardians edwin egypt elizabethan end engineering era ernst event events exhibition exhibitions facebook fair fairytale fall family fantastic farringdon fashion february festival film finance fire first fiscus florence folklore food for francis free friars frost gallery galliard garden george georgian georgians german germany gibb gift girls globe grade great greenhithe greenwich group guided guides gun half hall halsk handel harle harry potter hats havering havering hoard hawksmoor hazel heroes hidden highbury hill hilton history holloway homes hooke hot hotel house housing how humphry i ian ianmcd ice ice cream icelandic ii iii in india inigo isaac islington italian iv jack jack the ripper jack's james jenny jewels john johns jones joseph katharines kelly kenneth kew gardens kids kidstours killer kim king kings kingston lambeth lane lewis lights limestone literature liverpool locations londinium london london bridge london's londoners londonhistory lunch lutyens macaulay magnus management maritime market markets martyr mary match matilda maufe mayfair mcdiarmid measure medical medieval memorial middle military millennium mock-tudor modern modernist montague month monument moorgate mosaic murder murderers museum museum of london docklands music musicals mystery n7 national gallery national history museum ned new newcomen news newton nhs nichols night nightingale nurse of old street oliver open opera paddington palace palaces pancakes pandemic panoramic park parties path pauls people philip photo photograhy photography photos pizza places plague plantation plays plumstead podcast poetry pokemon polly poor pop poplar port poverty prince priory private tours pub public pubs purbeck qe2 queen queenhithe quirky railways recording regency reid religion rembrandt renaissance restoration ripper river road rob robert roman romans roundhouse royal saga saints salute saxon school. science sculpture scupture seacole second serial servants sewers shakespeare shoreditch siemens sir slave slavery small smartphone smith smithfield smithfields soap soho somme south southbank southwark spitalfields spy squirrels ss st statue stories stow street strike stuart stuarts studios subscription suffragettes sugar summer susan sydenham tate taxi tea ten term terror thames thamesmeade the theatre thiepval things things to do thrifty thriftytheatre to toothbrush tour tours tower trade travel truman tudor tudors tumblety twelfth twentieth twist und underground update v&a ve victims victoria victorian victorian london victorians viking virtual vouchers wales walk walking walks wall war water werner west westend westminster wharf wheeler whitechapel wilde wildlife willelm william windrush wine winter women wood woodland woolwich world wyatt york zachary 1666 1888 2019 2020





Site by Hazel  |  Photographs by Hazel or Ian