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‘Trusty and well beloved, we greet you well’ The digitised letters of Henry VIII

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The digitisation of the King Henry VIII letters at Dunham Massey went very well indeed. It was such a privilege to be able to see the letters first hand and create high resolution images of them to help protect and preserve the letters for the future. We set up our kit in the ‘Faithful and Obedient’ exhibition gallery which was the ideal space for us as we were right next to the exhibition case which houses the letters. We digitised the letters using the IQ 180 our portable copystand and Profoto lights.

On hand there is even a transcription of the letters so visitors can read exactly what they say. We include the transcriptions here below each letter:

By the King

By the King

Trusty and well-beloved we greet you well, letting you know that forasmuch as by the manifold injuries, wrongs and displeasures done unto us, our realm and our subjects by the Scots, we have been forced lately to enter into open war and hostility with the same, which we intend and purpose, god willing (unless the nobles of Scotland conform themselves to reason), to prosecute with such force as shall redound to our honour and to the commonwealth of our realm and subjects. To the intent that we may better know the forces of our said realm and thereby put the same in such order and readiness as they may serve us in this enterprise as the case shall require, we have thought meet and necessary to have special musters taken of all our people and thereupon to have all such plan and perfect certificate made as shall declare what be trusted to in that behalf. Wherefore our pleasure and commandment is that you, by the virtue and authority hereof, shall with all convenient diligence take the musters of all the able men, both horsemen and footmen, which you can make and furnish, both of our tenants inhabiting upon farms, holdings and tenancies within any office under us of which you have the stewardship, if you have any such, and also of your own servants and tenants dwelling upon you own tenancies. And the same so taken, to certify in writing to our right trusty and right entirely beloved cousin and counselor the Duke of Sussex, lieutenant general in northern areas, with all possible diligence, with a special note and declaration to be expressed in the said certificate, how many of the said persons are furnished with horses able to occupy [carry] a spear or javelin, how many are archers and how may billmen, and how many principal men may be picked out of every sort of the whole number. Forcing [taking care] that in these musters and certificate you do not meddle in any way with any mariners, forasmuch as we intend to reserve the same for our furniture by sea [i.e. navy], and that you put all the same in readiness as they [to] set forth in one hour’s warning, whenever you receive commandment from our said cousin in that behalf. And these our letters shall be your sufficient warrant and discharge herein accordingly. Given under our signet at our Palace of Westminster the 10th day of February, the 34th year of our reign.

By the Queene

By the Queene

Trusty and well beloved, we greet you well. And forasmuch as by the inestimable goodness and grace of Almighty God, we have been delivered and brought to child-bed of a Prince conceived in most lawful matrimony between my lord, the King’s Majesty, and us, doubting not but that for the love and affection which you bear unto us and the commonwealth of this realm the knowledge of which should be joyous and glad tidings unto you, we have thought good to certify you of the same, to the intent that you might not only render unto God condign thanks and praise for so great benefit, but also pray for the long continuance and preservation of the same here in this life to the honour of God, joy and pleasure of my lord the King and us, and the universal peace, quiet and tranquility of this whole realm. Given under our Signet [seal] at my lord’s manor of Hampton Court, the 12th day of October

The letters will be on public view at Dunham Massey throughout the ‘Faithful and Obedient’ exhibition, and its really worth a visit. The ‘Faithful & Obedient’ exhibition is open at Dunham Massey Hall on Sat – Weds, 11am – 5pm. Dunham’s Winter Garden, restaurant and shop are open daily. For details, visit Dunham Massey’s website.

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CHICC digitising the newly discovered letters of King Henry VIII

Katie Taylor and the letter signed by Henry VIII. Image courtesy of The National Trust

You may have read recently in the news, about a fascinating discovery in the collections of the  National Trust’s Dunham Massy. We are delighted to have the opportunity to be working with the National Trust again, and tomorrow (13th March 2012) we will be taking our equipment over to Dunham Massey, to digitise the wonderful letters.

Dunham Massey House Steward, Katie Taylor discovered them a few weeks ago in a folio of letters in one of Dunham’s Picture Stores.

“ I was going through the letters in the folio, and these two signatures jumped out at me” says Katie. “I was almost sure they were signed by King Henry VIII, and Queen Jane Seymour, but called in an expert in these matters, our very own John Hodgson from the John Rylands’ Library.

John confirmed that they were indeed the genuine article. King Henry’s letter is signed as being in the 34th year of his reign  – 1543 . Each of the letters is written on very thick and robust paper, and both  have been kept flat and stored carefully away  – which shows they were held in high esteem by the family at Dunham.

The letters are addressed to George Booth Esq, the grandfather of Sir George Booth who built the first house here at Dunham in 1600. The letter signed by Henry VIII is a ‘muster’, a call to arms to landlords to raise troops from their tenants to fight.  These were the days before a professional standing army had been introduced – so defence fell to ordinary men.  It was a hangover from the days of feudalism when landlords ‘owned’ their tenants (known as Serfdom).  Henry was trying to raise troops for his war against Scotland (which was allied to his old enemy France).

The letter ‘From the Queene’ (Jane Seymour) announces the birth of a son- the future King Edward VI.  It is not signed by her but written on her behalf. These are generic announcements I think, but still very exciting to have Henry VIII’s actual signature.

These documents are older than any of our buildings at Dunham and almost the oldest things in our collection”.

The letters form part of a new exhibition at Dunham Massey marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year. Using items from collections and archive material at Dunham, the exhibition, ‘Faithful & Obedient’, takes a look at the often tempestuous relationships that the two great families of Dunham Massey – the Booths and the Greys – have had with reigning monarchs down the centuries.

Based on the evidence before them, visitors to the exhibition will be asked if they think the families really were the ‘faithful and obedient’ servants they professed to be – or whether they had their own agenda in the pursuit of power.

The ‘Faithful & Obedient’ exhibition is open at Dunham Massey Hall on Sat – Weds, 11am – 5pm. Dunham’s Winter Garden, restaurant and shop are open daily. For details, visit Dunham Massey’s website.

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