Hampton Court Palace

Project: Hampton Court Palace
Location: London

The Tapestries

Hampton Court Palace began to reach its current glory in 1515 when the ambitious redevelopment of the former grange was carried out for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.   In 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the King seized the palace for himself and later enlarged it. In the following century, King William III undertook a massive rebuilding and expansion project, destroying much of the Tudor palace. Work ceased in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque.

The Project

There are ten magnificent tapestries in the set of the Story of Abraham, six of which hang in the Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace. Commissioned by Henry VIII and woven in Brussels in the workshop of Willem de Kempeneer ca. 1541-43, they are "one of the most sumptuous tapestry ensembles to survive from this or any period". Woven to the highest specification of the day, they were designed to promote the image of Henry Tudor as head of the Church of England.

Whist planning essential conservation work to stone mullions around the windows of the Great Hall at the Palace, it was agreed that rather than subject the Abraham tapestries to the risks associated with moving them, it would be better to keep them in situ and cover them with a protective material. Zardi & Zardi was commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces to make copies of the six tapestries to hang over the protective material, and so enabling visitors to the Great Hall to continue to enjoy the splendour of the original series whilst the stone mullions above were being conserved.