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Trinity College statue of Henry VIII given new sceptre to mark 75th birthday of King Charles III

By John Downing –, member of APTGW and journalist at the Cambridge Independent

A sceptre made by an international team at the 2023 Bodgers Ball to mark the coronation of King Charles III has been prominently displayed in the hand of a statue of Henry VIII at a Cambridge University college.

Henry VIII on Great Gate with his new sceptre presented by the Association of Pole-lathe Turners & Green Woodworkers. Picture: Trinity College

While the world turned its eyes to Westminster Abbey for the coronation in early May, green woodworkers gathered in Barton for the ball hosted by the Cambridge Group.
In a nod to a Windsor ascending to the throne, the ball organisers inaugurated a new challenge – the Log to Sceptre competition. The winning sceptre was created by Kevin Downing from Ireland, and Daryl La Rue and Kathy Morch from Canada.

Once the ball had ended, Kevin’s brother John and his sister-in-law Jennifer Schooling, members of the Suffolk local group, pondered how the sceptre might be seen by a wider audience at the university from which the new king had graduated.

And where better than Trinity College, the then prince’s alma mater (1967-1970), and where a statue of of King Henry VIII brandishes an orb in his left hand and a chair leg in his right hand – originating from a student prank dating back around 100 years.
The statue on the Great Gate dates from the early 1600s and the original sceptre is believed to have been broken in the early 20th century, leaving a stump resembling a chair leg that students then replaced with a Windsor chair leg.

As Trinity students, staff, alumni and fellows gathered to mark King Charles’ 75th birthday on November 14, and the choir sang Happy Birthday, college praelector Professor Hugh Hunt spoke about a recent change to the statue of Henry VIII. The winning sceptre, gilded by Trinity College carpenter Jon Squires, was now in the right hand of the Tudor monarch.

The bright new symbol of power remained in place for a few weeks before the traditional chair leg was returned.

Jennifer Schooling and John Downing

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