I hadn't realised – until I read this book – how much work Henry VIII's marital problems caused the stonemasons of Hampton Court. After years of carving the letters H&C all over the place, Henry got rid of Catherine of Aragon, so the Cs had to be reworked as As. But, no sooner was the last A in place than Anne Boleyn was executed on Tower Hill and the As had to become Js to suit Jane Seymour, who promptly died in childbirth. And there were still three more queens to go, so, lots more chiseling, presumably.
King Henry VIII
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Monday 21 March 2011
Monday 07 March 2011
Monday 20 December 2010
The British a cappella ensemble Chapelle du Roi was set up by singer-conductor Alistair Dixon with two objectives: to bring Renaissance music to a wider audience, and also, as their brochure puts it, ‘to unearth music that has languished unseen and unheard’.
Monday 20 December 2010
"What kind of a man wears yellow trousers?" I shouted at the telly, watching Matt Cardle whining away in a pair the night he was crowned winner of this year's X Factor.
Sunday 19 December 2010
Hilary Mantel's portrait of the blacksmith's son who rose to become Henry VIII's right-hand man, and for a time, the most powerful individual in the country, is a tour de force. It seems unfair to cite this book in a "best of" list once again, after it dominated so many of last year's selections, but it still outclasses almost anything else (and costs less than half as much in paperback, out this year).
Sunday 14 November 2010
Shakespeare has an image problem – but it's all just bad marketing, really. Who was he? Who was his audience? What was London like when he was writing? Despite the factual information to the contrary, the average person's answer to these questions may read: some aristocrat educated at Oxford; the rich and powerful of his day; awfully civilised.
Friday 05 November 2010
Any girl feels like a new season debutante when she meets the parents. Knowing when to simper and when to smile, at what moment to tinkle out a little giggle or how to pronounce that fancy French thing on the menu – all require a social deftness and lightness of touch that you either have or you don't. S'a matter of breeding, innit.
Tuesday 14 September 2010
Friday 06 August 2010
Theatre: I went to see my friend Hannah Stokely in 'After the Dance' at the National. It is a seldom-done Terence Rattigan play that I had never heard of, let alone seen before, and it is an absolutely sublime production. Han and I were at drama school together and were laughing about what a relief it is when a friend's show is good and you don't have to rehearse a believable compliment on the way up to the dressing room.
Wednesday 28 July 2010
Wednesday 23 June 2010
Friday 18 June 2010
In a court crammed with charismatic figures, Anne Boleyn was probably its most captivating player.
Thursday 27 May 2010
Henry VIII is notorious as the play which burned down the original Globe when its thatched roof was set on fire by the cannon shot saluting the entrance of the King in an early scene. To modern taste, that disaster has come to look like a shrewd critical verdict on the play. It's no surprise that the reconstructed Globe has only now got round to presenting the play in a vivid, robust, and winningly well-conceived production by Mark Rosenblatt.
Wednesday 21 April 2010
Quite whether Jack Straw will relish being compared to a government minister who was eventually beheaded is unclear – but a new portrait of the Justice Secretary was unveiled yesterday with the revelation that it was inspired by a painting of Sir Thomas More.
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