Thetford’s Lost Tudor Sculptures

This exhibition studies the catastrophic effects of the Dissolution of Thetford Priory and of Henry VIII’s attempted destruction of the Howards on the ducal tomb-monuments at Thetford. Parts of two unfinished monuments were salvaged and moved to St Michael’s, Framlingham, Suffolk: other pieces were abandoned in the ruined priory. Here they are reunited, in a mixture of the virtual and the real, for the first time since 1540.

“We shall virtually disassemble the monuments and reconstruct their original forms for the first time in half a millennium, trying to integrate the excavated fragments in our virtual reconstructions.”

— Dr Phillip Lindley, Principal Investigator

Representing Re-formation

Led by the University of Leicester, this project sponsored by the Science and Heritage Programme undertook a major 3-year project studying the magnificent Howard tombs, two of which were originally planned to stand in Thetford Priory, Norfolk, but were moved after the priory’s dissolution by Henry VIII and reappeared, after extensive remodelling, in the east end of Framlingham parish church, close to the Howards’ great castle (now in the care of English Heritage).

The team includes researchers from the University of Leicester, University of Oxford, the Yale Center for British Art, Yale University and English Heritage.

Ian Drake Design was approached to bring to life the results of this project in an exciting and visually stimulating new exhibition. As part of the funding brief this exhibition had to take some challenging concepts and scientific techniques and present them in a manner that was fully inclusive for a wide ranging audience.

The exhibition included a large wall hanging, new audio visual displays, an interactive ‘Tudor table top’ and highly detailed resin models reproduced from 3D scanned images as well as original tomb fragments never seen on public display before.

In September 2013 the exhibition was opened and has been very well received.

Some of those who attended included Prof Simon Thurley, CEO of English Heritage, Prof Geoff Crossick of the AHRC, Steve Miller, the new head of NMAS, the Mayor of Thetford Stuart Miller, Prof Graeme Barker of Cambridge and Dr Annie Grant from UEA.

You can find out more about the project at