New exhibition traces Tudor royal family’s impact on religion in Durham

@ Durham Cathedral

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16 February 2018 - 09 June 2018

Entry to the exhibition in the Collections Gallery of Open Treasure comes with admission into Open Treasure. Tickets cost £2.50 - £7.50 and are free for under 5s; a family ticket for up to a family of five is available for £17.50. Tickets are available from the Visitor Desk in the Cathedral, the Open Treasure Welcome Desk, and in advance from the website

On February 16, Durham Cathedral’s world-class Open Treasure exhibition experience will open a new temporary display: Tudors: the family and faith in Durham. Highlighting the profound impact of the royal family on the Cathedral and changes in worship wrought by the Reformation, the exhibition will show the legacy left by this extraordinary dynasty of rulers.

The exhibition runs until Saturday 9 June, and is sure to delight all types of inquisitive visitors interested in learning about a foundational period for the formation of our modern society and religious institutions.

This remarkable family’s influence on religion was impressive. With the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the founding of the Church of England, and the Reformation, understanding this period of British history is vital in order to understand modern-day Christianity in Britain. This exhibition will take visitors on an engaging journey through the Cathedral’s collections, connecting them to monumental changes that profoundly affected Durham and the nation over four hundred years ago. The Rites of Durham, an account of Durham Priory before and during the Reformation, contains a striking demonstration of this, in a description of how Edward VI’s Protestant commissioners destroyed relics held at the Cathedral in 1547.

 As well as the powerful figures of Henry VIII, Mary and Elizabeth, Tudors: the family and faith in Durham will also take a local focus by examining some powerful members of Durham Cathedral during this time. Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall lived under the reigns of all five Tudor monarchs, and was one of Catherine of Aragon’s counsel during her divorce from Henry VIII. Bishop Tunstall negotiated the changes of the era with difficulty, and was imprisoned during the reign of Edward VI.

The exhibition will draw on the Cathedral’s impressive collections of archives and early-printed books, such as a 1557 first edition of the Geneva New Testament and Gerlach Flicke’s sixteenth century portrait of Mary I.

Marie-Thérèse Mayne, Exhibitions Officer at Durham Cathedral, said, “The Tudors represent a fascinating period of history, and one that everyone is familiar with from school. However, we’re very excited to be able to bring this exhibition to Open Treasure, looking at some of the lesser-known stories and seeing the real impact of Tudor policies on life at Durham.

“I’m particularly excited to have a rare Royal Arms of Elizabeth I on display for this exhibition, which would have originally been set above the North Door of the Cathedral to remind visitors of royal supremacy over the Church of England. The exhibition is also enhanced by loans from other collections, in particular a striking portrait of the young king Edward VI from the Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park, Warwickshire. Believed to be by William Scrots, the king is shown in profile in a garden, surrounded by plants and flowers which are turning away from the sun and towards him. Below, verses in Latin and Italian describe his radiance and power. This is a particularly beautiful example of how royalty projected their power to subjects, and how owning a royal portrait was a symbol of political and religious loyalty.”


Durham Cathedral
The College
County Durham

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