Heberden Coin Room, Gallery 37, First Floor
Unlike the stylized coin portraits of Englands medieval kings,
Tudor coinage usually provides a genuine likeness of the ruler.
Look at the coin portraits of some of the other Tudor monarchs in
the same case as the Object of the Month. Those of Edward VI (1547-53)
show a particularly varied selection of portraits of the boy king
despite his short reign. See also coin no. 1: an example of the
first English sovereign from the reign of King Henry VII (1485-1509).
This coin was introduced as a symbol of the power and prestige of
the new king and may have been inspired by similar coins of Enrique
IV of Spain and Maximilian, King of the Roman Empire.
Medieval Gallery, Gallery 2, Ground Floor
Seals, such as the great seal displayed here, were used for authenticating
documents and featured portraits of the relevant monarch. This one
was designed by Nicholas Hilliard and shows Elizabeth I on an elaborately
harnessed horse. She wears a fashionable coif beneath her crown
and her formal dress is set off with a stiff ruff collar. You can
also see the Tudor rose and emblems of France and Ireland.
Tradescant Room, Gallery 27, First Floor
Fashions of the Elizabethan Age were characterised by elaborate
dress such as the large stiff ruff collars shown frequently in portraits
of the Elizabeth I. Women went to great lengths to look beautiful
and fashions often became so extreme as to require mechanical aids
to mould the figure into shape. This embroidered stomacher (which
is perhaps of seventeenth-century date) would have formed the front
part of a dress. It would have been tied tightly around the back
of the body with tapes and made rigid with whalebone strips.