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Tent design for the Field of Cloth of Gold

In material and arrangements the tents drawn here closely resemble those depicted in the near contemporary painting of the Field of Cloth of Gold (between Ardres and Guines, near Calais), and it is therefore safe to assume that they were the original designs for the structures. 

They reveal the impressive size and splendour of the temporary accommodation erected for Henry’s court during his meeting with Francis I in June 1520. Each design features a series of tents connected to the next via galleries, together making up a pavilion. The layout of the pavilions followed as far as possible the arrangements in Tudor palaces. Larger spaces could be divided using hangings of rich cloth, and reception rooms, private apartments and chapels could be arranged with galleries connecting them. The canvas tents were dressed with rich fabrics, usually cloth of gold and velvet. 

On folio 11, each tent is dressed with blue cloth, decorated with gold. The tents are fringed under the eaves with the Tudor livery colours of white and green. The gold painted ridgeboards at the top of the roofs support carved fleurs-de-lis. 

Folio 18 is the most complex of the designs, featuring a series of four principal tents, each of which has two small round tents on either side of it. The tents are dressed in red cloth with Renaissance candelabra and ‘grotesque’ decoration. At the eaves is a running frieze bearing the royal mottoes ‘DIEU ET MON DROIT’ and ‘SEMPER VIVAT IN ETERNO’, under which is a fringe of gold. The ridgeboards here are painted gold and decorated with carved Tudor roses interspersed with fleurs-de-lis along their length. On top of the tent poles are ‘King’s beasts’ (lions, greyhounds, dragons, harts and heraldic antelopes) holding standards topped either with the closed crown imperial or a fleur-de-lis and flying square pennants of fleurs-de-lis, Beaufort portcullises, royal arms and Tudor roses. At the extreme left end, above the entry flap, is a vase structure, out of which arises a standard of the Tudor rose, topped by a fleur-de-lis.

The design on folio 19 features tents in the green and white Tudor livery colours: one large tent followed by one smaller one and linked by galleries, flanked on each side and intersected by ten smaller rectangular and circular tents. The ridgeboards carry carved fleurs-de-lis painted gold; plate-like stands can be seen with poles or spikes onto which ‘king’s beasts’ or other decorative devices could be set. They are fringed at the eaves in blue, red and gold – the colours of the royal arms. 

Folio 76 shows a pavilion of tents, also in green and white. All are decorated with Renaissance candelabra, arabesque and foliage. The drawing, intended to convey three-dimensionality, is annotated with measurements down the page: xviij foote; xx fote; xviij fote (18 foot; 20 foot; 18 foot) xxx fote yn length and yn bredyth xviij (30 foot in length and in breadth 18) In length XL fote and in bredth xix fote (In length 40 foot and in breadth 19).

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