A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Find at Greenwich

The Telegraph (UK): Henry VII's chapel found at Greenwich---

As muddy holes go, they don't get much more romantic. Beneath four feet of heavy south London clay, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of Henry VII's lost chapel at Greenwich.

The existence of the chapel, part of the Royal Palace of Placentia, a Tudor favourite but pulled down in the 17th century to be replaced by Greenwich Hospital - now the Old Naval College - has long been known from paintings and records.

But until a bulldozer's bucket scraped against brickwork a month ago, no physical evidence of the chapel had ever been discovered.

Careful scratching away by a team of four archaeologists from the Museum of London has revealed the eastern walls of the chapel, a 10ft by 5ft section of floor made from black and white glazed tiles laid geometrically, and, beneath, a so-far unexplored vault.

The floor, at the eastern end of the chapel, almost certainly supported the altar before which the Tudor monarchs would have prayed.

The archaeologists may also have unearthed the spot where Henry VIII stood during his marriages to Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves.

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To the east of the chapel, more works have unearthed the foundations and fireplaces of its vestry.

"This is an astonishing survival," declared Simon Thurley, the chief executive of English Heritage and author of a study of Tudor palaces.

"For the first time ever we can see close up and in detail the east end of a Tudor royal chapel. Unlike Hampton Court and St James's Palace, where the chapels have been altered, here we can see what Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth would have seen. These have the potential to throw fresh light on the inner workings of the Tudor court."
A curtsy to Jay near Winchester for sending me the article!