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Lecture Report – All the Queen’s Jewels, 1445 – 1548

The Henley Archaeological & Historical Group welcomed again to its April meeting Dr Nicola Tallis, who spoke on the subject of her recently-completed thesis: ‘All the Queens’ Jewels 1445-1548’ – the significance of the jewellery owned by the ten queen consorts of this dramatic period of English history, covering the Wars of the Roses and the reign of Henry VIII.

This jewellery could have been owned personally, through a bequest or a gift, or in their royal capacity. Either way, they were a visual statement of wealth and projected the majesty of the wearer. Further, many gemstones were believed to have magical or medicinal properties, protecting the wearer from harm.

Voyages of discovery at the end of the 15th century led to a growth in the variety and number of gemstones for incorporation into pieces of royal ornament. Unfortunately for us, few items of such jewellery remain intact, most having been melted down and refashioned. Some, however, have survived in museums and partial information about the lost jewellery can be learned from inventories or royal portraits of the period. An example of such a portrait is that of Henry VIII’s last wife Catherine Parr (pictured).