Visiting King Henry VII in London
Henry’s Tomb in Westminster Abbey
After visiting Henry, I entered the side chapel to visit his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort. Her tomb is lower and as I stood looking at it a shaft of winter sunlight came through the stained glass windows and lit up her face. I think she would have been pleased to know she is still remembered.
I find it quite amazing that Henry’s final resting place has survived the fire of London, the English Civil War and the two World Wars in such good condition, more than five centuries after his death. The bronze grille from Henry's tomb was removed and taken to safety during WW2 when the stained glass windows were blown out by bomb blasts in 1940. You can still see the signs of damage where it was hastily taken apart and reassembled.
There is an admission charge for Westminster Abbey and no photography is allowed. The Abbey museum is closed for refurbishment until 2018, so I was unable to see the wooden funeral effigies of Henry and Elizabeth. All the same, it was an unforgettable visit and I chose to take the tour a second time using the excellent audio tour narrated by Jeremy Irons. For more information about charges and opening times please see www.westminster-abbey.org
Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery
Nearby are two later portraits of Henry. One is a small oil on panel. The other is an ink and watercolour preparatory cartoon by Hans Holbein the Younger, with Henry peeping out from behind his son Henry VIII, who commissioned the work in 1537. Room 1 also includes an amazing selection of Tudor portraits, with a spectacular life-sized Elizabeth I dominating one wall. For more information about charges and opening times please see www.npg.org.uk
The Torrigiano bust at the V&A Museum