History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

Should the National Portrait Gallery sell Henry VIII cushions?

Henry VIIIUpdated for 2020! This enquiry provides the perfect overview of Henry VIII’s reign.

Should the National Portrait Gallery in London sell cushions with the face of King Henry VIII on?

We love the National Portrait Gallery but sometimes the mind boggles at the merchandise they flog to tourists who don’t know better.

Visitors see ‘Bluff King Hal’ on a cushion (or key ring, badge, phone cover etc.) and splash their cash hoping to take a little bit of ‘ye olde England’ back home without knowing that Henry VIII was nothing like the chicken drumstick hurling old chum of their imagination.

In this enquiry, the students overview the reign of Henry and decide whether the NPG should stock the offending article.

They start off looking at images that purposely showed Henry as ace. Then they are introduced to the irascible Ian Dawson who has some not kind words to say about Henry. Ian wouldn’t have a cushion with the ‘monster’ king’s name on it in his house.

Your students will look at lots of examples from Henry’s reign and plot them on a graph to show whether he was successful or not.

They then pull all the learning together to write to the National Portrait gallery explaining why some might take offensive and whether they should actually stock HVIII cushions!

We have taught this at the start of a unit on Henry VIII and at the end. It also works as a standalone for those of you rushing through a two year KS3.

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