When the House of Lancaster overcame the House of York following the Wars of the Roses, a formidable dynasty was born. Henry VII, following his matrimonial union with Elizabeth of York to unite the houses, was keen to emphasise the legitimacy of his reign. He looked to the medieval tradition of heraldry to display motifs and symbols wherever possible, reinforcing his rightful position on the English throne to his subjects as well as rival claimants.

Henry VIII continued his father’s commitment to legitimising the Tudor dynasty. One such place that heavily features heraldic symbols is Hampton Court
Palace – one of the king’s most famous residences and a place he used for pleasure and celebration.

Ten stone beasts line the Moat Bridge, representing the lineage of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour. Consisting of real beasts and mythical creatures, we are honouring these heraldic symbols of one of the nation’s most powerful dynasties with The Royal Tudor Beasts Collection.

02 The Lion of England

The Lion of England is one of the oldest and most iconic beasts in heraldry. It first appeared on royal emblems in the twelfth century and has been part of the shield of England for as long as it has existed. Chosen to represent pride and courage, the Lion of England on the Moat Bridge at Hampton Court Palace holds a shield bearing the impaled – or combined – arms of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, symbolising the strength of the couple’s union.

01 The Seymour Panther

The Seymour Panther was given to Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife, by the king from the treasury of royal beasts. Like his father before him, Henry VIII adopted the panther as a symbol to reinforce his regal lineage. The statue appears on the viewer’s left-hand side (dexter) and the coat of arms depict the Duke of Beaufort’s arms, whose family Henry VIII’s grandmother descended from. Possessing the tail of a lion and the claws of an eagle, the heraldic beast is often portrayed as angry and incensed, with fire coming from its mouth and ears.