Sir Thomas More portrait on display at Hever Castle

June 06 2019 | Attractions Castle History


A portrait of Sir Thomas More has gone on display in Hever Castle’s Long Gallery as part of the permanent exhibition telling the story of the Tudors.

The oil painting, which was painted around 100 years after More’s death, is on loan for six months from a private collection.

More was a close confidante of Henry VIII but he opposed Henry’s break from the Catholic Church and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. His refusal to accept Henry VIII as head of the Church of England and to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn led to his fall from favour and eventual execution.

Historian Dr David Starkey, who guest curated the exhibition in the Long Gallery, presided over a private unveiling of the portrait on Friday 10 May.

The portrait attributed to the Flemish School is an interpretation of Holbein’s portrait of More.

Dr Starkey described it a “remarkable” portrait.

He said: “It’s taken from the great Holbein portraits and the great Holbein portrait drawings but it’s odd as it sort of sits between the two of them and the face shifts from the calm, serene, forceful, humanist, learned lawyer of the Holbein portraits we’re all familiar with and becomes more intense with the concentration of the eyebrows and the set of the mouth. This is how More was seen afterwards when he became a saint and martyr.”

Visitors to the childhood home of Anne Boleyn will be able to able to see the painting of Sir Thomas More alongside 18 original portraits hung in dynastic order telling the story of the Tudors from Henry VI to Henry VIII.

The Long Gallery underwent redecoration last year with new innovative lighting added and the paintings bordered by fabric (depicting whether they were from the York, Lancaster or Tudor families) in order for it to resemble what a typical long gallery would have looked like during the 16th century.