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Get a glimpse of rare portrait of King Henry VIII in town museum

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As historical figures go, he is more larger-than-life than most.Known for his fondness for excess, turbulent love life and political upheaval, history has left us with a distinct impression of Henry VIII, complete with rotund belly and thickset features.But a rare Norfolk portrait of the monarch – which has just gone on display – shows a different, slimmer side to him.The image – depicting Henry as a young and lean king – appears on a key document which has played a pivotal role in the county’s history.The Tudor monarch’s picture features on the King’s Lynn charter, which he granted exactly 500 years ago. To mark its quincentenary, it is being displayed at the Stories of Lynn Museum at the town hall for the next fortnight until June 1.Signed on June 27, 1524, the document gave the town the right to appoint a mayor, council and aldermen, which transformed how it developed.It includes a portrait of a young Henry VIII, depicting the dashing looks and sporting prowess of his youth before he developed the bloated belly he later became known for. The charter was created when the town was still known as Bishop’s Lynn due to its connection with the Bishop of Norwich.In 1537, this connection was severed through another charter that renamed the settlement as King’s Lynn. This came after the dissolution of the monasteries and the establishment of the Church of England, following Henry VIII’s break with Rome.Luke Shackell, archivist for West Norfolk Council, said: “This important document has had a long legacy and helped set the structure of the council for centuries later.“You can see a small portrait of Henry VIII depicted in the charter. Many will know him as being bearded and rather large but he was young once.”To mark the anniversary, West Norfolk Council is holding a series of events that will give young people the chance to learn how to write like a Tudor through a calligraphy workshop. The free sessions take place during the May half term at Stories of Lynn on Wednesday, May 29, May 30 and Saturday, June 1.As part of the workshops, a piece of art will be produced incorporating the work of the young people, which will be presented at a special council meeting on June 27. Medieval MandateA royal charter is an important document that grants a community certain powers, privileges and exemptions.It gives the town the right to set taxes and sets out policies to manage legal disputes.The 1524 charter was one of the most important, setting out the structure of the council that continues to have a big influence today: one mayor of the borough, twelve aldermen and eighteen other members that were part of the ‘common council’.The town was also granted a recorder, a town clerk, nine constables, two coroners, four ‘serjeants-at-mace’, and a clerk of the market.The introduction of the charter reads: “Henry the Eighth by the Grace of God King of England and France, Defender of the Faith, and Lord of Ireland.“To all whom these Letters Patent shall come, greetings. Know that for the love which we bear and have towards the Burgesses of the Borough of Bishop’s Lynn in our County of Norfolk.“Willing the good of the peace, quietness, and tranquillity within the Borough may be increased with all prosperous profits and commodities do take their undoubled beginning.”A decade later, a new charter was granted by Henry VIII, which renamed the town King’s Lynn, or Lynn Regis, releasing it from the authority of the Bishop of Norwich.The charter also gave permission for two yearly fairs and two markets each week.This created the Mart Fair which has been held annually ever since, drawing thousands to enjoy the rides and food stalls on offer.

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