Henry VIII’s Wine Fountain Recreated

How’d you like to drink out of Henry VIII’s wine fountain? If the answer is yes, you are in luck. In 2010, Henry’s Hampton Court Palace wine fountain was recreated. Most of the time it has water, but on select days it serves red and white wine for £3.50 per glass.

According to the press release, the project to recreate the fountain was inspired by the discovery of the remains of a sixteenth-century conduit (or fountain) during a major archaeological dig at the palace in 2008. The new fountain, which is over 12 feet tall, is constructed from authentic materials including timber, lead, bronze and gold-leaf.

The design of the fountain is inspired by a number of historic sources including the Field of the Cloth of Gold painting and The Triumph of Bacchus tapestry (which shows winemaking and drinking around a large wine fountain)—both of which are displayed at the palace. The Field of the Cloth of Gold painting, created in the 1540s for Henry VIII, depicts a meeting with the French King, Francis I, at Guînes in 1520. Both kings tried to out-do one another with cultural displays and entertainments and, as shown in the painting, Henry VIII built an elaborate ‘pop-up’ palace with two large wine fountains.

Accounts from the period indicate it was common for wine to be run through public fountains as part of lavish festivals and celebrations, such as when the king or queen were formally welcomed into the City of London. When Anne Boleyn processed through London for her coronation in 1533, many of the public fountains were converted to wine fountains.

Dr. Kent Rawlinson, Curator of Historic Buildings at Hampton Court Palace commented: “Hampton Court was a ‘pleasure palace’ for Henry VIII, where guests were entertained with spectacular revels and festivities, and wine and beer were drunk in enormous quantities, as evidenced by the great cellars that still survive here. Now with the restoration of Base Court, and the introduction of our magnificent wine fountain, palace visitors can join a centuries-old tradition and raise a glass to King Henry at his famous royal residence.”

For more information, click Hampton Court Palace official website.

Source: Historic Royal Palaces, UK