On a recent trip to Winchester, we visited the ‘Great Hall’ – all that remains of Winchester Castle and home to King Arthur’s famous ‘Round Table’.
The table was built by King Edward I in the 1200’s. Edward, a massive fan of the Arthurian legends had a plain wooden table built for him and his knights to play at being legends (some would say he already was). The brightly painted table we see today was the product of the lovely, huggable and caring King Henry VIII – on his orders Edward’s table was painted and hung on the wall of the great hall.
But take a look at this photo for a while and consider something that probably 99% of the thousands of visitors each year don’t notice, but occurred to me as soon as I saw it (maybe I’m just more cynical?)
Yes, the table is very impressive, but the whole purpose of the round table in the legends of King Arthur was that, by being circular, no man could sit at it’s head and therefore all men were equal. This is one of the key messages in the legends! But, even though Henry was supposed to be a fan of Arthur and should have known better, by hanging the table vertically and having a whacking great painting of himself placed at the top (or the head) of it, he’s placing himself above everyone else, and that’s is exactly opposite of everything the table stands for!
Personally, I’d like to see the table taken down and stripped back to how it was during Edward’s reign, but it’ll never happen – and it probably doesn’t matter to most people – but to me it’s yet another reason why I’m not a fan of the Tudors.
Farewell my Friends!