John Bloomfield Costume Prints – The Six Wives of Henry VIII

The Six Wives of Henry VIIII’m very excited to share with you that I recently acquired five original vintage prints of costumes designed by John Bloomfield for the BBC series, ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’, made in the early 1970s, and starring Australian actor Keith Michell as King Henry VIII. Michell won an Emmy Award for his performance that is still lauded by many as the definitive television portrayal of the Tudor king.

According to the BBC,

‘The authentic appearance of the court costumes was achieved by the ingenuity of designer John Bloomfield, who used painted cheap fabrics, glass and household washers to achieve the sumptuous period effect. Such was the interest in the programme that the costumes went on tour. The international success of Henry VIII led to the making of Elizabeth R, and established the BBC’s position as the pre-eminent producer of period drama.’

I am beyond grateful to my friend Dawn, who lives in bonny Scotland, for sourcing these prints for me and for taking the time to carefully package them and send them to me in Sydney. What a wonderful friend!

The prints are framed and ready to be hung in my study, which is slowly turning into a bit of a Tudor shrine…

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Young Henry VIII

Photograph of an original ‘working copy’ print of a costume designed by John Bloomfield, for the BBC Series ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’, worn by Keith Michell as a young Henry VIII.

Henry VIII

Photograph of an original ‘working copy’ print of a costume designed by John Bloomfield, for the BBC Series ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’, worn by Keith Michell as Henry VIII.

Annette Crosbie as Katherine of Aragon

Photograph of an original ‘working copy’ print of a costume designed by John Bloomfield, for the BBC Series ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’, worn by Annette Crosbie as Katherine of Aragon.

Dorothy Tutin as Anne Boleyn

Photograph of an original ‘working copy’ print of a costume designed by John Bloomfield, for the BBC Series ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’, worn by Dorothy Tutin as Anne Boleyn.

Elvi Hale as Anne of Cleves

Photograph of an original ‘working copy’ print of a costume designed by John Bloomfield, for the BBC Series ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’, worn by Elvie Hale as Anne of Cleves.

Needless to say, I am now on the look out for the three missing wives to complete the set: Anne Stallybrass as Jane Seymour, Angela Pleasence as Catherine Howard and Rosalie Crutchley as Katherine Parr.

Do get in touch with me if you know of anyone selling these prints or if you too have a collection. I’d love to see your pics!

I’ll add an updated photo of the prints once they’ve been hung in my study.

I look forward to hearing from you!

PS. As promised, here is a pic of the prints framed and hung! I decided to hang them in the upstairs lounge room instead of my study because there’s more wall space here, which means there is room enough for Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr to join the gang, eventually… 🙂

Update 5th March, 2017:

Thanks again to a wonderful friend, I added Jane Seymour and a third Henry VIII to my collection of John Bloomfield prints. Here they are in all their glory…

John Bloomfield Tudor prints

It appears that the only print I’m now missing is a fourth Henry VIII. Sadly, according to comments left after this post, the Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr prints were not released. What a pity!

The search is now on for the final Henry print. Wish me luck!

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Comments

  1. Mary Tudor says:

    Really beautiful prints, Natalie. You acquired an authentic treasure! Really excited for see the photo of the prints hung in your study.

    Congratulations for your acquisition! 😉

  2. Those are very cool!

  3. Wow! I can imagine just how happy this collection has made you. And what a brilliant friend Dawn is, I’m not envious at all! Two lovely ladies x

  4. I have come across 8 of these costume prints when clearing out a friends hose. 2 of Henry in different costumes +6 wives are they wort anything?

    • Better late than never Tina, l hope. Lucky you finding all the wives. I took one of mine to the antiques roadshow and I was told by the expert that they are only worth what you are willing to pay for them I’m afraid, my first on a cost me £2 framed, l have paid not a lot more for my other six either. Its only the originals that are worth anything, and they are locked up in the BBC archives. So sorry to be bearer of bad news. There are actually 3 Henry’s to my knowledge now, as l have bought it. If you want to sell any of them, if you aren’t keeping them. I would be very interested in buying at least two of them from you Tina

  5. They look a treat Natalie. As you know l have the same ones as you, but have just acquired another costume print of Henry’s l didn’t know existed, so that’s 3 Henry’s now, plus l managed to find a Jane Seymour too. Only K. Howard and K. Parr to find before my set is complete…or is it? With that ‘extra’ Henry turning up l wonder if there are others too. Perhaps Cardinal Wolsey or some other main players in the Tudor court. Be interesting to find out. I did actually email the BBC to how many of the costumes where released as prints, but have had no response as yet. Anybody out there have an idea?

  6. David Bettison says:

    Hi, Natalie Just came across your site while looking at John Bloomfield’s costumes re-television series Six wives of Henry V111. I have a print of Henry’s costume as yet I’ve been unable to find it on any site ! on the reverse of the print is typed “Published by B.B.C, Enterprises London “–“First edition Jan 1971 Printed by Partridge & Love Ltd Bristol England ” It’s a working print of Henry’s costume with sample materials shown and he’s wearing red slippers and has a garter on his left leg ! I would post a photo to you if I get your Email address by return, would be nice to see how many of these prints were done ! yours sincerely David.

    • Hello David, I would love to see a pic of your Henry! Please email me at natalie @onthetudortrail.com (without spaces). Thank you!

    • Charlotte Farrell says:

      Hi David, did you find out any more about your print? I have 5; 2 Henrys, Jane Seymour, Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves. They all have the same printed on the back as yours. Do you know if all the prints have this written on? I was given them by my godfather who worked for the BBC at that time.

  7. Hi Natalie, I have just found your site, whilst searching for more information on 3 original costum design with fabric swatches sketches I have. They are from the play The Goverment Inspector, Sherman Theater, Cardiff. Signed John & Ann Bloomfield. Can anyone help me with any more information.
    Kindest regards jenny

  8. Susan Walker says:

    Just clearing my husband’s flat and have four of these:
    Jane Seymour
    Ann Boleyn
    and two of Henry

    I think that you have all of these anyway but can send pix if you like – and do you know anywhere I could post them for sale as have so many pix no room for these now
    Rgds
    Susan

  9. Jannie Stijntjes says:

    Hi Nathalie,
    My name is Jannie and I live in the Netherlands. I am a retired history teacher and have been interested in the Tudors since my teens when my mother gave me a book on Anne Boleyn. I recently bought a print of John Bloomfield costumes for the BBC series The six wives of Henry VIII.It is the costume of Anne Boleyn. I wanted to find out more about these prints so I searched on Google and found your site! Like you I am very interested in these prints and would like to collect them. Could you tell me a bit more about your collection, do you still have the 5 prints or did you manage to purchase more? Maybe you know an address where I could try to find the prints?(How many were published?) Or maybe someone who wants to sell them? I am willing to pay a good price.
    By the way, I LOVE your site! I hope to hear from you!

    Best wishes from the Netherlands,
    Jannie.

    • Dear Jannie, lovely to “meet” you! Unfortunately, I have not been able to acquire any more of the prints. A friend of mine wrote to the BBC trying to find out how many prints were made etc. but I don’t think she received a reply. I think it’s a matter of searching on the internet and second hand stores, and keeping your fingers crossed! Good luck!

  10. Jannie Stijntjes says:

    Thank you Natalie, I will certainly keep searching! Maybe there is someone who has one or more of the Bloomfield costume prints and wants to sell them? I will pay a very good price!

  11. cristina says:

    I have Ann boleyn on my bedroom wall.
    My parents found it framed and in perfect condition dumped on the side of some street like trash, and they know how much I love the Tudor dynasty.
    I’m one lucky kid ?

  12. Hi Natalie, found your site when looking at selling a few of these prints. I think you have the ones I have so perhaps Jannie might be interested but as its your site il email you pic of what I have and if Jannie puts her email address up I can talk to Jannie about the remaining prints.
    (Loved them for many years but I’m moving house and they’re not going to work in new space. Glad they’ll be going to new homes that’ll love them)

  13. Hi Annie, can l ask which ones you have

  14. Jannie Stijntjes says:

    Hi Annie, yes, I would be very interested, but of course Dawn comes first! I already have 4 prints: two of Henry, one of Catherine of Aragon and one of Anne of Cleves. Hope to hear from you!

  15. Jannie Stijntjes says:

    Is there someone with an Anne Boleyn who wants to sell?

    • Jannie Stijntjes says:

      Yippie!!!! I found 4 new Bloomfield prints: Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and 2 unknown Henry’s! I am so excited, I just had to share this with you! My collection is slowly growing (8 prints), but I know there must be a lot more prints out there, so the search continues!
      Anyone who has Bloomfield prints of Tudor costumes from the BBC series “The six wives of Henry VIII” and wants to sell them for a good price, please contact me or Natalie.

  16. Jannie Stijntjes says:

    I’ll try to send you some pictures Natalie, but I’m very clumsey with computers, I will have to ask my brother for assistance! I have 8 prints now: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and 4 Henry’s. I saw that the queens are the same as you have, but I’ll try to send you pictures of the unknown Henry’s. How many prints do you have now? I know there are at least 3 other Anne Boleyn’s out there, how I wish I could lay my hand on these!

  17. Sophy Smith says:

    I have three Henry’s – one is Henry as a student – plus an Anne of Cleves

  18. I have 4 Henry’s Sophy, all different and l do wish someone knew how many different prints where actually sold to the public… Its areal Tudor Mystery!! Haha

  19. Timothy Maddox Morgan-Owen says:

    All these prints were sold at the 1971 exhibition at the V&A which then toured the country and then the world. It had originally been at Hampton Court in the summer of 1970. In January 1971 BBC launched the TV series. It was huge, the exhibition opened to coincide. It was the 1st time TV or Film costumes had had a major exhibition at a major museum. The queues were 2 hours long. I have postcards of the exhibition . There were 2 sets of 8 postcards one was 2 photos of Keith Michell and one of each wife, then 8 of costumes on dummies also there was a single of the music, a brochure and the 8 costume prints for sale along with a copy of Henry VIII’s seal. Also was a model with miniatures of Anne Boleyn’s execution. The exhibition then went to Sudeley, and Warwick Castles, I have the posters that advertised it. It then toured various countries round the world and I saw it again at Hampton Court in summer of 1980 or perhaps 81 along with costumes from Elizabethh R.

    I have prints of Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, Henry from episode 2 and Henry from episode 3. I would love to acquire the other 4. There was also a magazine brought out in 1973 to coincide with the film about both film and tv series.

  20. Jannie Stijntjes says:

    I have 8 prints: 4 different Henry’s, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves. I know there are 3 more Anne Boleyn’s out there, I found them on the Internet. They were sold a long time ago and are impossible to trace. I also contacted the V&A, but they didn’t have any information on the exhibition in their archives, neither did they know anything about the prints. The original prints seem to have disappeared, even the BBC archives didn’t have any information. Aaahhh! Well, I have the postcards though, and also the magazine Timothy mentioned.But I keep on searching. Anyone who knows more about the 3 Anne Boleyn’s?

    • Timothy Morgan-Owen says:

      The 3 Anne Boleyn designs you mention are the original costume designs that were sold at auction in 2008. The are now in the James Gordon collection which is one of the largest collections of Ballet, Opera., Theatre, TV &Film costume designs in the world.it is private but will eventually be left to Glasgow university. There was a lecture last year apparently at the V&A by John Bloomfield about the series. The BBC sent me 4 of the prints in 1980, and info about the series, It was the department callled BBC Enterprises, long gone I should think. They sold off all there costumes about 5 years ago, but I suspect the 6wives had long since disintegrated.

  21. Hello Timothy, thanks for that information. You say that you have 4 prints, 2 of Henry and 2 of his ladies, and that you would love the other 4 to make the set, yet there must be more than that, as l have 4 different Henry’s and 4 wives…its all quite confusing isn’t it. l have the brochure, card sets and a set of Elizabeth R series too. I also have the souvenir magazine, if its the one with all the extra facsimile type info with it. Anyway when Glasgow inherits the James Gordon collection l hope l’m still about to go and see it with me living in Scotland.
    I am really miffed about missing the lecture by John Bloomfield, l would have definitely have travelled to have heard that…anyway however many different designs there are out there l would be happy just to get a print of the Katherine’s Howard and Parr!

    • Timothy Maddox Morgan-Owen says:

      There were only 8 prints so you have the complete set. There were 2 sets of postcards for Elizabeth R and also a brochure about the costumes along with a single of the music. But no costume prints.

      • Oh dear! I am so disappointed to hear that those were the only ones released. And how strange not to have done all six wives, especially Catherine Howard, as we all know how fascinating the ‘Executed Queens’ are to the majority of those with even the slightest interest in Tudor history…think l will go weep into a glass wine now, lol. Oh well at lest we know once and for all now. Did you remember all this from your visit as a young lad Timothy?
        I bet you are disappointed too Jannie, especially after all your hard work researching..l know l feel very deflated knowing there are no more to be had…. 🙁

        • Timothy Morgan-Owen says:

          Yes I remember all this , I have a precise memory and was obsessed by the series, being away at school I only saw Catherine of Aragon, my mother recorded the others on her tape recorder for me. i saw the exhibition at the V&A once and can remember it well and the layout and shop. I chose which costume designs I wanted. I then saw it twice at Warwick a couple of years later and my mother and I drew the costumes So I could paint them at school. I saw them again in 1980 and photographed them. I can still draw most of them but of course have the series which I didn’t see until 1980.

  22. Jannie Stijntjes says:

    Thank you Timothy for posting all the information! I think my quest ends here. I was particulary interested in the three Anne Boleyns that were sold in 2008, but I didn’t know they were original drawings. That declares that they were impossible to find. Obviously there were no prints made of them. What a luck for Mr.James Gordon, they were a real bargain then, sold under GBP 100. for all three! If there were only 8 prints that means that my set is complete too. No Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr then.
    Could you give me some information on James Gordon? I never heard of him, but he seems an interesting person. Who is he, where does he live, where does he keep his collection? I will most certainly travel to Glasgow when they inherit his collection! By the way Timothy, I have a Henry and a Catherine of Aragon double. Please let me know if you are interested.

  23. Timothy Morgan-Owen says:

    The James L Gordon Collection. He lives in London. I borrowed about 150 ballet designs for an exhibition in 2008. I would love to aquire the two designs you have. I have a poster for the exhibition if you are interested.
    My email is timothymorganowen@yahoo.co.uk

  24. I think i have missing costume sketched

  25. Which one would that be Sara

  26. Jannie Stijntjes says:

    Yes, I am very curious too!

  27. Thought you might be Jannie ?

  28. Jannie Stijntjes says:

    Yes, but I have little hope that unknown ones will show up. I think Timothy is right that there are only 8 prints. In that case our sets are complete.

  29. Me too. Hope Sara answers soon

  30. N Samels says:

    Hi, perhaps too late but a set of these prints is up for sale at my local auction house in Tenterden. I have posted the link https://www.easyliveauction.com/catalogue/lot/c5400196fefd1b596e94a5069e7159ae/0af8d24542e81eb9357e7ef448a6646f/antiques-collectables-furniture-and-jewellery-lot-161/

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