Society to hold exhibition on Tudor Monarchy (2017)

Blood Royal: Picturing the Tudor Monarchy (24 July – 25 August)

The Society of Antiquaries of London invites visitors to explore its free summer exhibition, showcasing one of the most important collections of Tudor Portraiture in the UK.

This summer, the Society of Antiquaries of London (Burlington House, London), is delighted to open its doors and help visitors explore the Tudor dynasty through its collections. The exhibition is free and open to all from 24 July to 25 August (Monday to Friday, 10.00 to 17.00), and has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with a 'Sharing Heritage' award.

Preparation for the exhibition led to the revelation of a sixteenth century map in the Society’s collection, “The plot for all Thickett ffeilde”, documenting the shocking moment when evidence of witchcraft against Queen Elizabeth I was unearthed. It is an astonishing reminder that the Tudor monarchs, from Henry VII to Elizabeth I, faced constant challenges to their authority, and of the precarious position in which many of our most powerful historical figures found themselves — themes teased out in the Society’s exhibition.

The map, which with one small exception would be a rather dry (albeit useful) legal document, hints at one of the most sensational moments during Elizabeth I’s reign, the discovery in 1578 of a plot involving witchcraft. A small brown circle on the map is labeled “The Leystall [mound of earth] where the Images of waxe were founde” and is a testament to the notoriety provoked when effigies of Queen Elizabeth I, Baron Burghley (the Lord Treasurer) and another member of the privy council were uncovered. The three effigies, stuck with pig bristles, were left to melt in a dung heap not far from the Lord Treasurer’s Bridge, where they were found and later sent in a sealed box to the authorities. Elizabeth’s trusted magician, John Dee, was assigned to practice godly counter-magic to combat the terrible threat.

Inspiration for the exhibition was drawn from the Society’s collection of paintings at Burlington House, which includes the largest collection of English medieval royal and Tudor portraiture outside of the National Portrait Gallery and Royal Collection. Exploring the struggle for legitimacy and power during the Wars of the Roses, the advent of the Tudor dynasty, and ways in which each of the Tudor monarchs strove to demonstrate their authority and ability to rule the kingdom. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to see rarely displayed objects from the Society’s Library and Accredited Museum collections, including official royal documents from the reigns of Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I as well as archaeological finds from battle sites associated with the Wars of the Roses.  

The Society has relied on help of Fellows and volunteers to research its collections and share their knowledge with our public audiences. In particular, the Society is grateful to the following Fellows for working with Burlington House staff this year to develop and produce the exhibition:

  • Mr Peter M Barber, OBE FSA, former Head of Maps at the British Library.
  • Dr John PD Cooper, FSA FRHistS, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of York.
  • Prof Glenn J Richardson, FSA FRHistS, Professor of Early Modern History at St Mary’s University, London.

There will be an event series related to the exhibition, including a programme of short gallery talks on Tuesday afternoons and two museum ‘lates’ (11 August and 25 August, 18.00 – 21.00). Visit the exhibition website for more information:

Additional support for the exhibition events programme has been provided by the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers of London.

Further Information for Editors and Writers

Please contact Communications Officer Renée LaDue with further questions or requests: email or call 020 7479 7086.

About the Society of Antiquaries of London

Founded 1707, the Society of Antiquaries of London is Britain’s oldest learned society concerned with the study and understanding of the material past. Our Royal Charter of 1751 sets out our purpose as “the encouragement advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries”. Today the Society is a registered charity (237207) with an elected Fellowship of 3,000. Our principle objectives are to foster public understanding of heritage, support research and communicate the results, and to inform public policy on the care of the historic environment and cultural assets. We support these objectives through our historic research Library and Accredited Museum collections at Burlington House (London) and Kelmscott Manor (Oxfordshire), conservation and research grants, publications and public events like exhibitions and lectures.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) invests money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Website: Twitter: @heritagelottery.

For more information from the Heritage Lottery Fund contact Rebecca Lamm, HLF press office, on or 020 7591 6027 or Katie Owen on or 020 7591 6036.

Read More on This Story

Visit our exhibition page:

Read what others are saying:

  • Apollo Magazine (8 Aug, written by Maurice Howard)
  • Ian Visits (5 Aug) 
  • (review)
  • Lady Jane Gray Blog (review)
  • Festival of Archaeology:
  • Londonist! (5 Aug, Museum Lates, Free and Cheap Things to Do):
  • Londonist! (5 Aug, Exhibition, Things to do in London this week): 
  • Prospect:
  • ArtWeek:
  • Art History News:
  • Londonist (21 Aug, Free and Cheap 21-27 August):