16th Century Henry VIII Mural Found

Posted By on January 29, 2011

There have been reports in the British news of a couple finding a 6m high mural of Henry VIII on a wall in their home while they were doing DIY. According to reports, the house in Milverton, Somerset, once belonged to Thomas Cranmer when he was Archdeacon of Taunton. The mural dates back to around 1530 and shows Henry VIII sitting on his throne, with his crown on his head and the sceptre in his hand.

You can see the video of this incredible mural on the BBC News website – click here. It really is an amazing discovery.

25 thoughts on “16th Century Henry VIII Mural Found”

  1. Rose says:

    That old house looks very beautiful, and even more so with a massive wall painting of Henry VIII in it!

    1. TudorRose says:

      Yes, it does indeed 🙂 Rose! Would you not just like to be a resident there ? I know I would or atleast be able to visit. 🙂

  2. julie b says:

    This is wonderful and amazing, it makes you think that, yeah, these people really did exsist and were really here at one time.

    1. TudorRose says:

      Yes, indeed of course despite being dead for four/five hundred plus years, they existed alright! 🙂 Hard to beleive at times I know but true! 🙂

  3. DeAnn says:

    I wonder how they got the 1530 date? And just like his grandfather, Henry was already running to fat then. I had always thought he weight really ballooned after the 1536 jousting fall but he’s on the hefty side even three years before he married Anne.

    How lucky those homeowners are! And I bet the value of their home just soared!

    I just wish we could have a picture of Henry in his hey day.

    1. Kara says:

      I agree!! But it would be a little spooky I think at night walking by that mural with those eyes of his watching over you!! But still, very beautiful palace and lucky people to have found such a treasure.

  4. spearson says:

    I wonder who the mural belongs to? Do the house owners ‘own’ it now or does something like that belong to the nation? I’m sure they wouldn’t, but what if the house owners decided to just paint over it?!!!!

  5. Eliza says:

    That’s so exciting!! I hope sometime (soon) they found something that belonged to Anne, letters of her, a picture or something!! Judging from this news it is possible!

  6. Amanda-Leigh says:

    This is so amazing! I remember Eric Ives mentioning something about the piecing together of history, and the unlikely chance that someone will discover a bunch of primary sources…… this definitely gives out some hope on that front!

    How lucky those people are! I wonder why it had been hidden away?

  7. Rhodri Powell says:

    A few points. The BBC report in particular has several errors. We weren’t doing DIY – we had a conservation plasterer dealing with some 1950s gypsum skim that was coming loose – when this was removed, a small patch of render underneath fell off, revealing a bit of colour. The panelling was only removed to see if the mural went underneath it – it didn’t. The mural is roughly life size, about 6ft high in total and part of a 20ft wide frieze that covers one wall. The date is speculative but based on his hairstyle – in 1528 he had long hair, but his 1536 portraits show him without any hair showing beneath his crown or hat. This picture shows him with ear-length hair. If the picture was done in 1532-3, this is at the end of Thomas Cranmer’s time as Archdeacon of Taunton, shortly before his surprise appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury. There is however, no evidence that he ever visited Taunton, or even this house.

    1. Anyanka says:

      Thank you for the corrections Rhodri.

    2. Claire says:

      Hi Rhodri,
      Thank you so much for commenting and giving us the details. I’ve been checking into Cranmer and he was Archdeacon from 1531, when Stephen Gardiner vacated the post, until 1533. All of the news reports state that the house belonged to Cranmer so I wonder what source a researcher found for that little gem. Do you know anything about the history of the house at that time, i.e. who it could have belonged to, as that mural is incredible. Is it possible that it was painted as a celebration of Henry VIII’s progress to the West Country in 1535? I’ll have to look into his itinerary.
      Do you have a photo of the mural that we could use on the site please? I would obviously credit you. If so, please email me at claire@theanneboleynfiles.com
      Congratulations on suc a wonderful discovery!

      1. Rhodri Powell says:

        Thanks Claire,

        Of course you can have a picture. I’ll send it to you.

        It seems likely that the painting was done to mark Henry’s decision to take over the church, but he probably was never intended to see it – The clothes and crown and sumptuously drawn, with ermine and pearls and embroidery. But the portrayal is hardly flattering, slightly cross-eyed, with a double chin, floppy, petulant lower lip and his shirt rucked up beneath his pot belly. He has narrow sloping shoulders and stumpy little legs – hardly the tall, broad and burly figure that was usually portrayed.

        And why, when, and on whose orders was it covered up? No idea, but whoever plastered it over hacked holes to make the plaster stick, but didn’t damage the face, the orb or the sceptre…

        We are setting up a website ‘milvertonmural.com’ with details of what we know and more pictures. With luck it will be up and running in the next week or two.

        And thanks all of you for your interest

  8. Bella says:

    Wow, finding something like that in my house would be a dream come true!

    1. Anyanka says:

      I’d be rather worried since my house wasn’t built until 1995…laughs..

      1. Bella says:

        Mine wasn’t built ’till 1989 so I’m probably out of luck! Still, one can dream…. 🙂

  9. Katy says:

    It must have been an exciting moment Rhodri!

    1. Rhodri Powell says:

      It was, especially since it was so unexpected, though it wasn’t until the eyes appeared that we realised it was anything more than a bit of old wall decoration.

      Why unexpected? Well I had found tiny bits of old hard plaster, some with hints of pigment, frustrating relics to show where an old wall painting had been. But we thought all the wall paintings had been destroyed in the great destructions of images that took place in the 1540s and 1650s. In fact, only the day before the discovery, I had mentioned this to our plasterer, so he was perhaps primed. Well, also, he was a proper conservation plasterer who had worked in the Tower of London, Windsor Castle etc so he knew what to look for.

      First impressions were a few lines and a couple of scappy oak leaves. But enough to set us uncovering the rest.

      1. DeAnn says:

        Thank you Mr. Powell for taking the time to share these rich, wonderful, delicious details with us. You are so generous! I love hearing the extra not covered in the press.

        And may I be nosey and ask how on earth did you happen to have a real professional conservationist plaster working on this project rather than just anyone? That’s particularly fortitious!

  10. Kim Kloes says:

    Will the mural be restored or will it remain as is? What a marvelous discovery no matter how it happened!

  11. janice says:

    such a beautiful house. i dream about having such one day.

  12. TudorRose says:

    I am very interested in this mural and have taken great pride in its finding. I hope that the owners do not paint over it like you said Spearson, I really hope they do not! Also it would be nice if it was on view to the public also, you never know now the owners of his house have found this mural they might just start charging people for the entry, who knows. Afterall it would be one way to make money from this and they might just do that. I would love to get a picture of this on my camera or camera phone, I think it would be nice. Yes, also as this has been found it just makes me wonder what is or what could be found next. Who knows that is nobody does exactly do they ?!

    I still cannot get this image out of mind it was so capturing despite being found two days ago, it will probably remain in the depths of my head aswell as my head till the end of the week if not for months ahead even years. The first thing that struck me was the crown and his image, tobegin with I thought that this may have been done sometime during the beggining of his reign hence the style of the crown, the hair as it would be a typical early to mid medieval crown and he was known to have quite longish hair at the start of his reign but if this was painted in the year 1530 then how can it be as at that time the King’s hair had been short so some things just do not add up. I would like to know where the year 1530 came from. I mean was this date inscribed on the wall, hence the brickwork or is someone just making a random guess here ?! I would like to know. See perhaps a further study and analysis should be done on this I think and also I think that the property should be searched from top to bottom as you never know what else could be lurking or hiding in there with the permission of the owner/s of course though first. I mean I wonder after this wether they have been searching around their house for other things that they might see or find that is or may be out of the ordinary. !?

    I would also like to know how long that this house has stood as we would have to know that before anything or anything further is established about and on this. I mean it could this mural have been painted sometime in the king’s early reign or if not and it was painted at a later stage it could of been when his hair had been long again like somebody else said but still there is no proof to back this up one way or another is there as all the pre 1530 and pro 1509 portraits have him with longish hair and the pro 1530 have him with short hair and nobody can tell if he was bald or not like a previous poster had mentioned as he always wore a hat or hats which would would have covered his whole and entire head to know but at the same time you would be able to tell if not everyone how long the hair would of been regardless. I think it has to be one or the other either like I said it had been painted earlier than 1530 or like what Robert Parry thinks that he may just have at some point grown his hiar back long again for the 1530 date period to apply that is.

    Just to quote this type of hair cut had been and was very early to mid medieval to where it quite longish for men that is down to their ears all you have to do is look at the portraiture of the time, hence Henry’s own fathers portrait and his grandfathers portrait and so on just any medieval king and you will see it had only changed durning the later medieval period for the men to wear their hair cropped and short but to say this some men still did and were known to still have quite long hair never the less so it is possible that Henry later on at some point in his reign may have regrown it. I am loving the piece never the less. As for it being any other monarch I would doubt this very much as upon and after looking at the face the mural just resembles Henry VIII too much! 🙂 So it is of Henry I would deffinately say that much! 🙂

    I would like to know if the historians have seen aswell as watched and what exactly their views are or may be on this matter! If only we knew. The likes of Starkey and what not, I am surprised he has not come forward and said anything you know what he is like he is usually the first to jump forward is he not !? as for the others I do not know but usually Starkey would be there saying something. I bet he will and maybe just one or two of the others might, we will just have to wait and see. Give it time and see what happens. He will come forward sooner or later he is probably just thinking deep and hard about this find he is probaly just as surprised aswell as just astounded as we all are about this find. He may even want to go and take a look in this couples house just to take a deeper and closer look at things. I think that we should all have chance as being all Tudor history enthusiasts, I mean why not !? again with the permission of the owners of course. I just hope they do not paint over this. I think that they will continue residing there, they may move just to make it a public house which is viewerble to the public, I do not know that may be apossibillity but then again they might just stay there and admire the find! 🙂 If this was me and I had found something so precsious and of value i would not give it up for the world I would keep it and just leave it how I found it!
    I would although let people see the artifact if they wanted, if it was something that could be given to a museum I might just give it to them, just maybe but they nor nobody would be able to give a wall mural to a museum now would they. Haha! 🙂

  13. Eliza M. L. says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that we still are uncovering Tudor treaures to this day!

    1. TudorRose says:

      Indeed! Eliza! Indeed! 🙂 It just makes you wonder wonder what they could find next! 🙂

  14. Dominic Macleod says:

    Dear Rhodri and Angie,

    It would be nice to get in touch and this is an interesting Story !

    My current address is 14 Old Rd, Barlaston, ST12 9EQ

    TEL 01782-37142 It would be good to hear from you again and
    sorry not to have kept in touch

    Dominic

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