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Royal School of Needlework

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Henry VIII - embroiderer king?

We know that many English queen consorts were enthusiastic embroiderers and that both male and female monarchs wore elaborately embellished garments and relished receiving embroidered gifts. However, we've never heard of any King of England actually practising embroidery.

The reference below, written in June 1539, after the death of Henry VIII's third wife Jane Seymour and before he married Anne of Cleves, may shed light on this question.

French Ambassadors Marillac to Montmerency

"The King, who in some former years has been solitary and pensive, now gives himself up to amusement. He evidently delights now in painting and embroidery, (having sent men to France, Flanders, Italy, and elsewhere for masters of this art, and also for musicians and other ministers of pastime).  All his people think this is a sign of his desire to marry if he should find an agreeable match."

In 1539 Henry VIII had been at Hampton Court Palace for 10 years, the question is did he embroider while he was here; we'd like to think he did!

Reference:
Letters and Papers Foreign and Domestic
Henry VIII Vol 14 Part 1 June 1539, 6-10 item 1092
Add. MS, 33,514,f.22 B.M. 1539
With thanks to British History Online for allowing us to publish this information.

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