Date of release: Thursday, August 23, 2018

Greenwich has long had links to England's most famous monarch, Henry VIII. His daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were born at the old palace which stood on the site of the Old Royal Naval College (ORNC).

Now there is another link, in the form of a new play about Henry's court written by University of Greenwich creative writing lecturer, Ade Solanke, and currently being performed at Hampton Court, Henry's 'party palace'.

'The Court Must Have a Queen,' on until Sept 2nd, is being performed in the Great Hall, where Shakespeare's Kings Men performed in 1603.

It's also the place where some of the most tumultuous events in English history took place: where Henry's Chief Minister, Thomas Cromwell, Sir Thomas More and each of the six wives paced and plotted, surrounded by the splendour of the huge golden tapestries, which still hang there today.

The play is set during the preparation of a sumptuous feast to seal the deal for Henry VIII's fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves. But with a moody, bereaved King anxious about the proposed union, Cromwell's day is not going according to plan. Will the return of one of the King's favourite musicians, African trumpeter John Blanke, save the day?

Playwright Ade Solanke said: "It's been fantastic to set the play in a place with so many echoes from history. Henry is a fascinating figure - I've become a little obsessed with him!

"John Blanke is also the first black person in the UK for whom we have both an image and a written record, so I feel honoured to be the first person to bring him to life in a play, and one set in the rooms where he actually worked."

She added: "Greenwich visitor centre has a plaque commemorating the fact that John Blanke also lived, worked and married on the ORNC site. That's something I'll  explore more as I develop my research in this area. It's exciting that Greenwich is contributing to the growing interest in this branch of British history."

The play, featuring authentic Tudor costumes, stately contemporary dances and period music, was commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces and is directed by Sam Curtis-Lindsay.