Costumes From Wolf Hall

29 Apr 2017

An exciting exhibition of costumes from the acclaimed BBC Drama, depicting the main characters of Henry VIII's court at the time of Thomas Cromwell's rise to power as Henry's chief advisor.

This summer Gainsborough Old Hall celebrates its close links to Tudor royalty with a sumptuous display of costumes from the acclaimed BBC2 drama 'Wolf Hall'.

This award winning drama starring Damian Lewis as King Henry VIII, Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn, and Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, concentrates on the tale of Thomas Cromwell's astounding rise to fame and power as Henry's closest advisor.

Mark Rylance was nominated for an academy award for his depiction of the often maligned character Thomas Cromwell, who is most remembered for master-minding the dissolution of the monasteries. 
Henry VIII was known to judge men on their merits rather than their social background and Thomas Cromwell rose from a blacksmith's son to the second most powerful man in England under Henry's rule. With his creative mind and legal knowledge Thomas succeeded where others had failed to win Henry a legal marriage to Anne Boleyn, with the guarantee that Henry's heirs from this marriage would be next in line to succeed the throne.

The Costumes in the exhibition depict the main players in the show including the fashionable and attractive Anne Boleyn, her sister Mary (a previous mistress to King Henry), Catherine of Aragon, the unfortunate queen cast aside once she was too old to provide a male heir, and many of the powerful men at court such as Cardinal Wolsey and the Duke of Norfolk.  We also see costumes that reflect Thomas's humble beginnings as a low-born urchin – a stark contrast to the luxurious trappings of court-life.

Henry VIII visited Gainsborough Old Hall in 1541, where he was lavishly entertained by the Burgh family who owned the hall at the time.  Thomas Burgh had been Henry's body-guard as a young man, and later became Lord Chamberlain to Anne Boleyn, travelling in the royal barge to her coronation, before eventually giving evidence against her during the trial and shocking fall from grace.  Thomas's eldest son was wedded to the young Catherine Parr, many years before her eventual marriage to King Henry.

Much of the Old Hall is little changed since the royal visit, and is presented with a medieval kitchen, banqueting hall, solar and tower, furnished just as King Henry would have expected.
The exhibition runs from 29th April to 28th August, and is included in the entry fee.


 Please be aware the exhibition is located on the first floor.


To keep the children entertained they can take part in our Queens Trail. Find out all about Henry's many wives and which ones came to a gory end.

The Queens Trail is included in normal admission price with a prize for all who complete it.