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Henry VIII - the London king

King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII

By Laura MacDonald
BBC London

Henry VIII may be remembered for his rotund shape and his penchant for chopping his wives' heads off but 500 years after his accession to the throne , historians and curators are keen to take another look at one of England's most memorable monarchs.

On June 28 1491, Henry Tudor was born at Greenwich Palace in south-east London. He was the second son of the Henry VII and unexpectedly became the heir to the throne when his older brother Arthur died in 1502.

He was just a few days shy of his 18th birthday when he became King on June 24 1509.

During his reign he had a huge impact on the nation by breaking ties with the Catholic Church and would become notorious for his six marriages.

Personal pleasures

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I courtesy of Sotheby's
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I courtesy of Sotheby's

The King had strong links to London throughout his life, basing his court at Greenwich Palace. He married first wife Katherine of Aragon there and it later became the birthplace of his daughters Mary and Elizabeth.

The palace remained one of his favourite residences throughout his life, allowing him to combine both his royal duties and his personal pleasures.

As king, the palace gave him a home within easy reach of the new shipbuilding yards that he had built in Deptford and Woolwich.

As an avid sportsman, it offered him the vast expanse of Greenwich Park in which he could hunt deer.

Although the palace Henry would have known is no longer standing, the land on which Greenwich Palace once stood has since become a world heritage site and the home of the Old Royal Naval College.

In 1547, he died in the same city he had been born, passing away at Whitehall Palace in Westminster. He is buried in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.



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