Games and revelry at Henry VIII’s Sporting Academy

Henry VIII's Sporting Academy

Games and revelry fit for a King at Henry VIII’s Sporting Academy, Hampton Court Palace

Enjoy sword-fighting, archery, falconry and more this summer at the first ever Henry VIII’s Sporting Academy 

3 – 11 August 2019

Battle lines will be drawn this summer, as Hampton Court Palace’s stunning formal gardens are transformed into a Tudor world of sports, games and revelry for Henry VIII’s Sporting Academy. For just one week in August, little ones will be immersed in King Henry’s world as they take part in a variety of ye olde sporting activities and discover more about Henry VIII’s legendary sporting prowess at this famed leisure palace.

Taking place in the East Front Gardens, visitors can enjoy drop-in activities throughout the day, from the more familiar football, to lesser-known sports such as quintain, all under the watchful eye of King Henry VIII himself. Families can try their hand at the art of crossbow in this fun-filled participatory event or brush up on their archery knowledge with a show-and-tell by Henry’s courtiers. After perfecting the crossbow, it’s time to practice traditional sword fighting, making sure to be quick-witted and nimble in order to defeat any dastardly opponent! Get some tips from the ‘Art of Defence’ demonstration taking place twice daily in the gardens, where visitors can watch Henry VIII and his close courtiers as they prepare for a bout of hand to hand, mock combat. The King will also be showcasing the rules of wrestling and will be looking for willing volunteers to assist him in acting as “the sticklers” for the match. For animal-lovers, there will also be hands-on falconry displays, where visitors can learn more about this sporting necessity from the Tudor times and how it was used for hunting.

Once little ones have had their fill of all of the action, it’s time to collect the all-important medal. To commemorate their special day and to mark their sporting prowess, children can wear their medal with pride, knowing that they are now a fully-fledged Tudor athlete!

The Sporting Academy is included in palace admission, with visitors able to explore the rest of Hampton Court’s magnificent surroundings throughout the day. From the world’s oldest puzzle maze and the largest grapevine on the planet, to the fun-filled Magic Garden there’s a whole host of outdoor activities to enjoy on a summer’s day. Inside the palace, food enthusiasts can also learn what it took to feed up to 600 people twice a day in the famous Tudor Kitchens, where Hampton Court’s team of historic chefs will be cooking up a storm, roasting meat on the great fire and creating a meal fit for a king!

Henry VIII’s Sporting Academy is included in palace admission and runs daily from 3-11 August. All activities are drop-in and repeated throughout the day. HRP Members go free to Hampton Court Palace.

Poppy Watt