A team led by researcher Simon Withers has used cutting-edge scanning techniques and ground-penetrating radar to make an extraordinary archaeological discovery right in the heart of London
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A long-lost Tudor Palace where Henry VIII had his last joust has been rediscovered – quite some distance from where it was supposed to be.
Experts from the University of Greenwich, in partnership with Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG), used ground-penetrating radar to establish the location of Henry’s tiltyard.
The spot, some 100 yards from where experts had previously thought it to be, marks a turning point in history.
While the popular image of Henry is of a rather overweight man whose main interests were eating and executing his wives, as a younger man he was fit, healthy and a remarkable sportsman.
But it’s thought to be a jousting accident in the Greenwich Palace tiltyard in January 1536 that changed the 44-year-old monarch’s personality.
After the severe fall in full armour, Henry went from an outgoing, generous king to a brooding, angry man who was permanently troubled by the lingering injury.
Research team leader Simon Withers thinks he may well have identified the exact spot where it happened.
“When people ask me how I spent lockdown, I say ‘well, we found a palace’,” Simon told Daily Star Online.
“It was always known to be underfoot,” Simon added, “but until our find, the tiltyard towers had been believed to be elsewhere.
“Ground-penetrating radar sends pulses into the ground which are reflected back giving an image of what lies below.
“The images recorded on the radargrams are tantalisingly ambiguous and it has taken some time to reconcile these with what had long been considered to be the location of the tiltyard.”
The fascinating discovery pinpoints the spot where Henry had his accident – and as a result changed the entire course of English history.
It was after the accident in the Greenwich Palace tiltyard that Henry fell into ill-health and – crucially – fell out with then-wife Anne Boleyn.
Not long before the tiltyard catastrophe, an ambassador at Henry’s court reported: “His Majesty is the most handsomest potentate I have ever set eyes on.
“Above the usual height with an extremely fine calf to his leg and a round face so very beautiful it would become a pretty woman.”
But by the time of his death in 1547 Henry was in very poor shape, and is thought to have weighed as much as 28 stone.
The miserable monarch died – some experts believe as a result of a brain injury incurred from his jousting accident – aged just 56.
Simon and his team are engaged in a project to map much more of London ’s hidden history, but it will be hard to match their first major find, which marks one of the rare spots where history changed in a matter of seconds.
Henry VIII of England, Palace of Placentia, Anne Boleyn
World news – GB – Henry VIII’s long-lost Tudor palace rediscovered underneath London park