The Restored Henry VIII Mural

Posted By on July 14, 2012

Rhodri Powell, owner of the house in Milverton, Somerset, where the beautiful 16th century mural of Henry VIII was discovered early last year, has just emailed me to tell me that the restoration work carried out by Anne Ballantyne has been completed. He also kindly set me photos. Thank you so much, Rhodri, for sharing this beautiful mural with us. What a find!

In the gallery, you will see an upside down one of the mural and that’s because Rhodri said, “one night, sitting by the fire with the lights turned down, we made a rather startling discovery. Either (and this is entirely possible, if unlikely) the second image is a pure accident, or it shows what the artist (or someone) really thought about Henry. Try turning the attached picture upside down. If you don’t get it straight away, try looking at it from some distance, or through half-closed eyes.”

See gallery below.

Do you see anything?

I’ve also put the photos in an album on our Facebook page – see Henry VIII Mural album.

Read more about the discovery in my article – 16th Century Henry VIII Mural Update

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Comments on
"The Restored Henry VIII Mural"

26 Responses to “The Restored Henry VIII Mural”

  1. Pamela Kapustka says:

    Oh I saw it,allright!!!! It’s almost “demonic”….it looks like the huge head of a demon chewing up and spitting out Henry. I would get the creeps if that was in my house! But it’s fun to look at here!

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  2. yanice says:

    its so amazing. Fantastic. Thank you a lot for sharing.

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  3. Dawn 1st says:

    What a fantastic find!! The upside down version certainly does have a ‘Demonic’ look to it…Very satirical

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  4. Kim Kloes says:

    My first thought was the devil. I can’t believe this is accidental. How fascinating! Thanks for the look at the fabulous historical piece. What a find.

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  5. Deborah Braden says:

    Wow! Amazing mural, right side up or down. Took a moment, but then the image jumps right out at you. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Ivona says:

    It would be wonderful if somebody accidentally found Anne Boleyn portrait from 16th century :)

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    Melanie Reply:

    Oh, how I agree with you! My favorite history-related daydreams include someone’s finding a contemporary portrait of Anne, more letters that she wrote, and her birth date. It’s a comfort to think that if this strange mural of Henry was lurking, something related to Anne might be, too.

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    Ivona Reply:

    :). I also dream about the excavation of the St. Peter ad Vincula and the DNA analysis of Anne Boleyn’s body. And after that she should be placed somewhere more appropriate (next to her daughter and not in some mass grave)

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    Claire Reply:

    St Peter ad Vincula is beautiful, though, and is used regularly for worship. In 1876/7 Anne’s remains were collected and placed in a box with a name plate attached. She was then re-interred in the chancel area and a memorial tile shows where she was buried. I think her tile speaks of her story and I love the fact that she is in a peaceful place, rather than the busy Westminster Abbey. Just my opinion but I love St Peter’s.

    Ivona Reply:

    Yes, St Peter’s is very beautiful, but I also think that she deserves more than just that memorial tile and roses for the anniversary. Even that memorial which is supposed to show where the scaffold once stood, is in the wrong place.
    By the way, I simply love your website Claire :)

    Claire Reply:

    The only trouble is, where would you stop? You also have Lady Jane Grey there, plus George Boleyn. So many innocents!

    Thank you, I’m so glad you enjoy using the site. I love the fact that it’s become a community where we can discuss our views and opinions, and thank you for sharing.

  7. Anki H says:

    Now I can clearly see the demonic face:-) How very interesting!
    I would like to know more about Mr. Powell’s house in Milverton. It should be possible to research the history of the house and the people who lived there during the centuries. Has this been done, already? If so, where can I read more about it?

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    Rhodri Reply:

    The house was the residence of the Archdeacons of Taunton, who included such major Court figures as Stephen Gardiner, Thomas Cranmer, Roland Lee, Richard Sampson etc. I have put a lot of stuff on a website, but it is down at the moment pending updates and time to get it sorted.

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  8. Lindsey Nicholls says:

    To me it looks like a representation of a womb and fallopian tubes, that you find in biology books. Quite appropriate when you consider Henry’s obsession with fathering a successor!

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    Claire Reply:

    Oh yes! I see what you mean!

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    Tania Reply:

    I saw that too! Because im a biology teacher I thought. Everyone was seeing a demon (which I also see) so I was pleased to see you see it too! I doubt it’s accidental. This sort of thing is very common and ‘Easter eggs’ are being found constantly in old artwork. Look at the god and Adam detail in the Sistine Chapel mural closely. ‘God’ is emerging from what is a perfectly represented cross section of a brain (cross sectioned from nose to middle of back of head, separating the two hemispheres of the brain! Michelangelo of course participated in the then illegal activity of cutting up stolen corpses for more detailed study, so it was no accident he painted a brain. And the philosophical implications behind it (and the theological that I’m sure the church wouldn’t have approved of!) are very clear.

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  9. Shoshana says:

    Just saw the demonic face and can only say – Whew! If the painter did not do it purposely, then a higher power was making a harsh statement!

    But what a find in the 21st century! I’ve heard friends say there couldn’t be much more to find of anything whether concerning Tudor history, ancient Rome, or any time long ago. I think there is probably some remarkable things still to be found; recently I started a cleaning project in my home and have found things I had forgotten I had and things from my parents I didn’t know I had, including a wonderful portrait of my father taken when he served in WWII at the age of 20. If these things were “lost” in my family for over 70 years, how many things in old manor homes were “put away” and forgotten about over the centuries. In times past there were hidden cubby holes for valuables, rooms built to hide things and people, and caches of valuables hidden in the ground never to be dug up again until ……. . We are fortunate in having so many buildings survive the centuries; remarkable things have been found when restoring some of them already so who knows what will be found in the future. I just wish someone would hurry and find them!!

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  10. Ceri C says:

    What a wonderful find! It would be great to find out more about who commissioned it and under what circumstances.

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  11. Fairypoppins says:

    WOW! What a remarkable find! The restoration work is beautifully done. The painting ‘The Ambassadors’ by Holbein with the special skull (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ambassadors_(Holbein) makes me think that the devil was/is intentional Not sure about the uterus and fallopian tubes though-although I saw that too.

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  12. Cait C. says:

    I feel a little strange saying this, but when I looked at the upside down mural, I saw a cow’s face…. Perhaps I should look again :P

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  13. Mallory says:

    Wow! What an incredible find, and to think this was in someone’s house for centuries! I can see the devil image as well in the upside down version of Henry sitting on his throne, and do find it interesting. Maybe, Claire, as you stated, the real opinion of the artist’s view of Henry.

    Fascinating! I just love reading the articles and comments about them. Thank you for doing this and keep up the great work:-))

    And, am waiitng on the Anne of Cleves book by Norton. It isn’t available via the Kindle e format, and the wait for the book is 2 to 3 weeks, so hopefully I will get it before going on vacation in August. Thank you to the ladies who recommend the book:-))

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  14. roxi says:

    I have stared at these for hours. The only thing I see if i sit way back and look, the upside down looks like a alien head, also female insides. I will get my family to look see what they see. This is fun for I like hidden object puzzles.

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  15. Rhodri says:

    Very interesting discussion. Yes, we were quite spooked on the night we first saw this other image, but not since. Actually we feel better about the picture – we rather liked the idea that it was done as a secret protest, not an act of homage to a tyrant. It does raise the question of who the artist was – how many people could have composed such a treasonable image so that no inkling of it shows when the picture is seen the right way up? Several people have commented on the second alternative image – uterus etc. What is this saying? That he was the Devil’s spawn? We can only guess.

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  16. Steph says:

    I am really struggling with this. I have been staring at it for so long my eyes hurt. Could someone please explain the specific details of the upside down picture that make up the devil’s face? I simply cannot see it.

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    Claire Reply:

    Hi Steph,
    If you click on the last image then you should be able to view it as a larger image. I don’t think it looks like the Devil at all, but apparently Henry’s feet look like horns, his hands look like a goat’s eyes and the Devil is spitting Henry’s head out of his mouth. Like others have said, it looks more like a drawing of a woman’s reproductive system – uterus, fallopian tubes etc. – to me!

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    Steph Reply:

    Thanks for the help! I squinted my eyes and looked at it and I finally saw the face.

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