If you've ever wondered what it would be like to experience a slice of Tudor life, then Henry VIII's grand Hampton Court Palace, which still stands on the banks of the Thames in London, is now the place to go.

A replica wine fountain, similar to those used by Henry VIII at the palace, has been unveiled - and it will run with wine.

The fountain was created after the remains of a 16th Century fountain were found during an archaeological dig at the London palace in 2008.

The 13ft fountain, made of timber, lead, bronze and gold leaf, stands on the site of the excavated fountain.

It will run with red and white wine at weekends and on bank holidays, carrying on the tradition started by Henry VIII - and it'll be a surefire hit with tourists.

The design was based on the Field of the Cloth of Gold painting displayed at the palace. The 1520 Field of the Cloth of Gold - the world's first summit - was a meeting held just outside Calais between Henry VIII and his French counterpart Francis I after Europe's two greatest powers, France and the Habsburg Empire, under Charles V, tried to court England as an ally (despite the meeting, the English decided to ally themselves with the Habsburgs and declare war on the French).

The fountain’s taps will give modern drinkers the choice of red and whites from the same parts of France as in Henry’s day, although the Stowell’s Côtes de Gascogne that currently pours forth has a less than regal air to it.

Each glass will cost £3.50

Henry VIII replica wine fountain unveiled

The Times
30th April 2010

On most camping trips to France, the drink is served from a cheap bottle and plastic cups. For Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, only the construction of a four-metre-high wine fountain would do.

From tomorrow a working replica of one of the Tudor monarch’s most intoxicating extravagances will be serving wine to visitors at Hampton Court Palace.

Dr Kent Rawlinson, curator of historic buildings at Hampton Court Palace, said: "Hampton Court was a pleasure palace for Henry VIII, where guests were entertained with spectacular revels and festivities, and wine and beer were drunk in enormous quantities, as evidenced by the great cellars that still survive here."

The fountain will run with red and white wine at weekends and bank holidays after curators re-created a 16th-century design from a painting of the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

Hampton Court was Henry VIII's pleasure palace

The summit meeting with the young French King Francis I in 1520 was one of the highlight’s of Henry’s reign, a weeks-long festival of jousting and excess.

At the centre of it, according to a Tudor painting that hangs in the Palace, was a vast wine fountain around which Royal hangers-on can be seen drinking, fighting, vomiting and sleeping it off.

In his contemporary account of the Field of the Cloth of Gold, Edward Hall, a London lawyer, described a “a fountain of enbowed work, gilt with fine gold, and bice [blue], ingrayled with antique works, the old God of wine called Bacchus burling the wine, which by conduits in the earth ran to all people plenteously with red, white and claret wine, over whose heads was written in letters of Roman in gold, faicte bonne chere quy vouldra”.

That has now been re-created in timber, lead, bronze and gold leaf, right down to the inscription: “Make goode cheere who wyshes”.

It now stands in the palace’s largest courtyard, on the site where archaelogists found the remains of a 16th-century fountain two years ago.

Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII's magnificent Tudor Palace with its famous maze set in extensive gardens on the banks of the River Thames.

Hampton Court Palace, in the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames, was built for Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of Henry VIII, in 1514. It had previously been a property of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. Over the following seven years, Wolsey spent lavishly to build the finest palace in England at Hampton Court, a figure of 200,000 gold crowns.

In 1529, Wolsey fell from favour and the palace was passed to Henry VIII, who enlarged it.

Between 1532 and 1535 Henry added the Great Hall (the last medieval great hall built for the English monarchy) and the Royal Tennis Court.

The Great Hall features a carved hammer-beam roof. During Tudor times, this was the most important room of the palace; here, the King would dine in state seated at a table upon a raised dais. The hall took five years to complete, so impatient was the King for completion that the masons were compelled to work throughout the night by candlelight

The gatehouse to the second, inner court was adorned in 1540 with an early example of a post-Copernican astronomical clock. Still functioning, the clock shows the time of day, the phases of the moon, the month, the quarter of the year, the date, the sun and star sign, and high water at London Bridge. The latter information was of great importance to those visiting this Thames-side palace from London, as the preferred method of transport at the time was by barge, and at low water London Bridge created dangerous rapids.

The Hampton Court Maze is probably the most famous maze in the world, planted in the 1690s by George London and Henry Wise for King William III. The maze covers a third of an acre and contains half a mile of paths.

It was at Hampton Court Park, adjacent to the palace that, in 1702, William III died after his horse, Sorrel, stumbled on a molehill and William fell off. In celebration, Jacobites, William's enemies, toasted "the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat."

The last monarch to reside in Hampton Court Palace was George II, who reigned from 1727-1760. In fact, George III, from the moment of his accession in 1760, never set foot in the palace as he associated the state apartments with a humiliating scene when his father, Frederick, Prince of Wales, had once struck him following an innocent remark.

Although it is unclear whether that fountain ran with wine, such devices were a common feature of Henry’s revelries. At Anne Boleyn’s coronation in 1533, public water fountains in London ran with wine all day. As Hall described one: “Marble and four streams without pipe did rise an ell high and meet together in a little cup above the fountain, which fountain ran abundantly with Racked Rennish wine till night”.

“People think of Henry VIII as a tyrant, but Hampton Court was a pleasure palace, where guests were entertained with spectacular revels and festivities, and wine and beer were drunk in enormous quantities,” said Kent Rawlinson, curator of historic buildings at the palace.

“It was about showing off his wealth, power, and magnificence. The Field of the Cloth of Gold was like the Olympics — pouring giant amounts of money into something that demonstrated the power and fertility of the nation.”

The Tudors were familiar with wine from Spain, Germany and even Greece, but French wines were the favourite, particularly those from the former English possessions in Bordeaux and Aquitaine, according to Mark Meltonville, a food historian at Hampton Court.

“The thing that would surprise modern tastes is how young they drunk it,” he said.

“From October they would have been drinking this year’s wine — like the Beaujolais Nouveau today.”

Tudor wine tended to be weaker than today — as low as 8 per cent alcohol — and it was the job of the palace cellarmen to add water, sugar or spices to fit the drink to the occasion.

As with everything at Henry’s court, the aim was to overawe with opulence, said Mr Meltonville.

“If you served wine, it showed you could afford to import it, and several kinds of it — everything at court was about choice. Largesse and magnificence was the point.”

The fountain’s taps will give modern drinkers the choice of red and whites from the same parts of France as in Henry’s day, although the Stowell’s Côtes de Gascogne that currently pours forth has a less than regal air to it.

A modern wine-dispensing mechanism has also had to be installed, as copper and lead pipes do not, apparently, meet health and safety laws.

There is one other key difference to the spirit of liberality that reigned at Henry’s court — the wine will now cost £3.50 a glass.

The Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520

In the early 16th century, the greatest powers in Europe were France, ruled by Francis I, and the Holy Roman Empire (or Habsburg Empire), led by Charles V. Henry VIII of the up-and-coming England needed desperately to forge an alliance with one of the parties. In 1520, prompted by his chief advisor Cardinal Wolsey, Henry approached Francis I, and the two agreed on a meeting near Calais, between Guines and Ardres. The young kings, each considered paragons of monarchy in their respective countries, had long been rivals both personally and politically.

Thus, the kings set out to impress and outshine each other, arriving at the meeting with large retinues. In attempting to outshow the other, the kings spared no expense in their displays of wealth. They erected pavilions made with cloth of gold (real filaments of gold sewn with silk to make the fabric), organized jousts and other competitions of skill and strength, banqueted each other lavishly, in all ways trying to outdo and outspend one another. A temporary palace covering an area of nearly 12,000 square yards was even erected for the reception of the English king.

This ostentation earned the meeting the title "Field of the Cloth of Gold."

Composer Jean Mouton was most likely in charge of the musical production by Francis I; the French royal chapel had one of the finest choirs in Europe, and contemporary accounts indicated that they "delighted their hearers."

Musical production on the English side was probably led by composer William Cornysh the Younger, master of the Royal Chapel for Henry VIII.

Some idea of the size of Henry's following may be gathered from the fact that in one month 2200 sheep and other viands in a similar proportion were consumed, along with roughly 1350 Crumpets and 70 jars of strawberry jam.

In the fields beyond the castle, 2800 tents were erected for less distinguished visitors.

Journeying from Calais, Henry reached his headquarters at Guînes on 4 June 1520, and Francis took up his residence at Ardres. After Cardinal Wolsey, with a splendid train, had visited the French king, the two monarchs met at the Val d'Or, a spot midway between the two places, on 7 June.

The following days were taken up with tournaments, in which both kings took part.

There were banquets in which the kings entertained each other's queens. The many other entertainments included archery displays and wrestling between Breton and English wrestlers.

The feasting ended abruptly when King Henry challenged King Francis to a wrestling match which ended in Francis throwing Henry to the ground and beating him.

The meeting, which had taken place over three weeks (June 7-June 24, 1520) nearly bankrupted the treasuries of France and England, and was useless politically. Francis and Henry signed no treaty, and a few weeks later Henry signed a treaty of alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Within a month, the Emperor declared war on Francis, and England had to follow suit.

Though this was just renewing old aquaintances. In the previous decade, the English and the Habsburgs, along with their allies the Swiss, the Spanish, the Papal States and the Milanese, fought against the French, the Scots and the Venetians in the War of the League of Cambrai, in which the French managed to persuade the Scots to launch an (unsuccessful) invasion of England.

Last edited by Blackleaf; May 2nd, 2010 at 02:11 PM..