David Starkey Henry VIII at the Preston Guild Hall Review

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Reviewed by Jan Mellor

I have always been interested in Henry VIII and have toured Hampton Court Palace many times – even at school the Tudor period was my favourite period to study in history so I jumped at the opportunity to hear what Dr. David Starkey, a Northern historian who studied the Tudor period at Cambridge, had to say about this infamous tyrant of a king.

David had no props and as he stood in the famous stance of Henry (feet apart, arms at right-angles to his hips) as depicted by the iconic painting from Holbine – he captured the monarch instantly. This evening the historian wanted to explain that history was in fact repeating itself in that the current Brexit referendum situation within the UK was very reminiscent of the reformation of the churches throughout the UK in 1536. Through wonderful told stories of how the young man (aged 17 years and 11 months) was crowned king, his religious battle with Luther, the fear of purgatory, his lifelong friendship (since he 9 years old) with Thomas Moore (the most intelligent parliament person who ever lived) – who Henry later has executed-the personality and physical change within Henry due to his difficult 6 year divorce to Catherine, his paranoia, his quest for fame and his break with the Catholic church and the pope of Rome. Dr Starkey gave examples of how the theatrical open displays of torture (burning people alive, dismembering people) committed by Henry and Cromwell were very similar to the public tortures committed by ISSIS today – all to gather National Pride. His intense knowledge of all things Tudor gave the audience a great insight into the 16th century England and following his one hour talk he continued to comprehensively answer the audience questions with passion and vigour. The talk was very interesting. He gave great insight as to why and how Henry – the son of a Henry VII who had been victorious in bringing a Tudor to the throne following the War of the Roses – thought he was a god. “Creativity and Destruction” – feel familiar?

Dr David Starkey’s talk on Henry VIII was very enjoyable and informative. He told it with great passion, some humour and a lot of knowledge. Great for scholars, students or like me for people that have a ‘thing’ for this iconic king!

Rating: 4/5

For other shows at the Guild Hall or Charter Theatre in Preston visit www.prestonguildhall.co.uk

The Guild Hall & Charter Theatre, Lancaster Road, Preston, PR1 1HT | 01772 804444

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