480 years later, Tudor play back on its original stage

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A Tudor drama is to be performed in the magnificent Great Hall of Hampton Court Palace for the first time since it was staged there for Henry VIII about 480 years ago.

The Play of the Weather was written in the early 1530s by John Heywood, the playwright and poet who was to inspire Shakespeare. Although he was a Roman Catholic who included extremely daring digs at the monarch in his writings, he managed to avoid having his head chopped off.

The play, which uses the British weather to explore how a king can satisfy the contradictory demands of his subjects, contains a number of allusions to highly sensitive political and personal issues of the day.

Heywood not only got away with writing about the King’s religious policy and his recent marriage to Anne Boleyn, which was still a closely guarded secret when the play was produced, but was rewarded with a special gilt cup presented by the King.

Although copies of the first printed edition of 1534 have survived in institutions such as the British Library, the play has languished forgotten until now.

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