Page last updated at 00:21 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 01:21 UK

Henry VIII armour to be exhibited


Andy Williams shows Robert Hall how to wear a Henry VIII era suit of armour

An exhibition of the most complete collection of King Henry VIII's personal arms and armour is set to open in London.

Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill includes a personal suit of armour not seen in the UK for 70 years.

The priceless Wilton anime armour of about 1544 is on loan from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was only discovered to be Henry's in 2003.

The Tower of London exhibition marks 500 years since his accession.

The Italian made suit is probably Henry's last surviving armour, capturing his large frame, and was made for the Battle of Boulogne.

It was in the Pembroke armoury at Wilton House in Wiltshire. However, it was sold privately to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1930s as a French nobility suit of armour.

Only in 2003 was the suit identified as belonging to Henry VIII.

It will be reunited in the exhibition with its arms, perhaps for the first time in five centuries.

Ted Hunter, conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said: "It's been quite a task to bring the armour over, but we are excited to be able to exhibit this Wilton anime armour with the rest of Henry's arms for the first time."

The exhibition documents Henry as a soldier - including his use of early guns - and as a sportsman with one of the oldest surviving footballs, dating from between 1540 and 1570.

Thom Richardson, keeper of Oriental and European armour for the Royal Armouries, said: "Henry was a pioneer in the use of arms and weapons, such as some of the early muskets, in battle.

"This collection represents the most comprehensive collections of his armour perhaps since he was alive."

Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill runs from 3 April to 17 January 2010.

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