Henry VIII will return to Leeds Castle in Kent in the form of two of his most iconic pieces of armour as part of the Medieval Festival, a magnificent nine-day celebration of medieval life and combat, staged in the beautiful grounds of the 900-year-old Castle from Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 August.

Leeds Castle visitors will experience life as it was in the Middle Ages with a different programme of inspiring activities each day, ranging from the Royal Armouries’ Knight School to a 15th century-style Longbow Archery Tournament to Infantry Skirmishes. Meanwhile, twice daily falconry shows, a medieval market and living history re enactment camps will allow visitors to embrace the sights and sounds of this colourful era.

The return to a glorious past will culminate in a thrilling Grand Tournament comprising authentic jousts and a real life unplanned Mêlée on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 August. Visitors will see the squires arm the knights in full plate armour, before witnessing four knightly warriors compete in this thrilling special ticketed event.

Located within easy reach of London, Leeds Castle was a prized possession of King Henry VIII. Most famously, he stayed here overnight in 1520 with his 5,000-strong entourage en route to the Field of Cloth of Gold Tournament, where he jousted with the French king, Francis I, near Calais.

The two iconic pieces of Henry VIII armour returning to Leeds Castle for the Medieval Festival are the magnificent Horned Helmet, commissioned by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I as a gift for the young King, and the Tonlet armour, which is thought to have been worn by Henry for the foot combat at the Field of Cloth of Gold. Both items are loaned to Leeds Castle by the Royal Armouries – home to the national collection of arms and armour – and will be on public display at the Castle from 23 July until 21 September.

Soon after he came to the throne in 1509, Henry VIII established a royal armour workshop in Greenwich that was to survive him by about 100 years.

A second group of objects from the Royal Armouries’ collection will be on display at the new Exhibition Centre at Leeds Castle from 23 August until 2 November. These objects including armourers’ tools, part of Sir John Smythe’s armour and two gorget plates from Henry’s own armour, tell the story of the Greenwich Workshop and its immense impact on the development of body protection in England.

For more information on The Medieval Festival presented by The Royal Armouries and Leeds Castle please visit: www.leeds-castle.com or visit www.royalarmouries.org for more details on the armour.

The Royal Armouries is one of Britain’s oldest public museums and home to one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world. It has sites at HM Tower of London, Leeds and Fort Nelson in Hampshire.

Leeds Castle is located near Maidstone in Kent, within easy reach of London, just off Junction 8 of the M20.


For further press information and images please contact Samantha Williams, Interim Press Officer, Leeds Castle on Telephone 01622 767866 or via email pr@leeds-castle.co.uk or visit the Leeds Castle Media Centre.

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