Dover Castle: Back to the 12th century
It was created by Henry II as a statement of royal power and has now been brought back to life
Friday 31 July 2009
He played more than a small part in Archbishop Thomas Becket's death by encouraging his nobles to murder the prelate. Yet, after the horrific crime, Henry II was determined to turn the long-term international reaction to the murder to his political advantage.
So, knowing that foreign kings and princes would be making pilgrimages to Becket's shrine in Canterbury, Henry decided to create a spectacularly grandiose royal palace at the country's premier port of entry, which would both provide them with somewhere to stay and could not fail to impress them with a display of England's royal power.
Now, nine centuries on, one of medieval Europe's greatest royal palaces has been recreated inside England's largest castle, Dover.
A team of English Heritage historians has spent the past two years researching what the inside of the 12th-century royal palace at Dover would have looked like.
Based on their findings, a group of 141 craftsmen and artisans recreated more than 1,000 artefacts, everything from furniture, kitchenware, garments and goblets to swords, crossbows and shields. They have even researched and re-created a throne and a royal standard of the period. It is the largest historically researched medieval re-creation ever attempted in Britain.
New research by the British historian John Gillingham, published in the current issue of BBC History Magazine, reveals that Dover's keep was originally built not primarily as a fortification but as a spectacular royal palace where foreign rulers and dignitaries could stay.
Craftsmen employed by English Heritage to recreate the interior of the palace included weavers, hand-sewers, seamstresses, embroiderers, turners, carpenters, cabinet makers, blacksmiths, glass blowers, potters, silversmiths and armourers.
In terms of historical research, re-creating Henry's great Dover palace has been a tough challenge because there is no historical or archaeological record of how the building was decorated and equipped in medieval times. Therefore, researchers had to comb hundreds of British and continental sources to work out how a typical royal palace of the period would have been decorated.
The biggest single artefact is an enormous, 180ft-long mural-style wall-hanging, depicting the Norman Conquest.
- 2 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...
£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...