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King Henry VIII Gets a New Coat

Author: Emily Buxton Published: 6th July 2011 21:14

 At the end of January, the familiar statue of King Henry VIII which greets visitors at the doors of the Mary Rose museum at Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard went missing.  After years of being exposed to the sun, wind and rain, King Henry had begun to look worse for wear.

Yesterday however, despite the poor weather conditions, the statue returned home, followed by a procession of children, parents and staff from Portsea Venture Playground and the Mary Rose Trust.

Trevor Sapey, Community Engagement and Access Officer at the Mary Rose Trust, has been working with the children at the playground and their play leaders to help teach the children about local history through fun activities.  It was through this partnership he became aware of the brilliant artwork at the site.

Trevor then approached local artist, Michele Appleton, for help renovating the statue. Michele has worked at the playground for eight years and uses her natural talent to douse the playground structures in colourful and creative designs.

"Trevor had seen my artwork at the playground and asked if I would help with the statue, so of course I said yes. It took about four months altogether to complete and I used weatherproof gloss to make sure it stays fresh for many years to come. It's been a really enjoyable project and it's great to be able to return Henry to his home today," Michele said.

Michele's son, Drew, led the procession and pulled the statue back to its rightful place.

The close links between the Mary Rose Trust and the playground are evident through the design of the playground, with part of it sporting a Tudor theme. 

Play Leader, Ken Abbott, said: "With the help of local children, we've designed part of the playground with a Tudor theme, featuring a sunken Mary Rose, and climbing ship called the King Harry."

A mini festival is being held at Portsea Venture Playground on 12 August featuring activities and free food and music.  For more information please call 023 9275 3237.

By Emily Buxton

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