The Hertfordshire pub which hid King Henry VIII’s riding saddle after a tragic jousting accident

Henry VIII is arguably one of our country’s most infamous monarchs and had strong ties to Hertfordshire as he used Hatfield House as a nursery for his three children Edward, Elizabeth and Mary. The Tudor King ruled England for 36 years in the 1500s, but his legacy lives on because of how dramatically his actions changed the country.

After his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn, he was excommunicated by the Pope in Rome and became head of the new Church of England. Henry went on to marry four more wives during his lifetime, and he and his six wives became one of the most notorious royals in the country’s history.

During his reign, King Henry was also fond of jousting – a game between two horsemen wielding blunt-tipped lances. A jousting accident ultimately contributed to Henry VIII’s death – but before that he was banned from riding due to fears for his health – and his saddle was hidden away in a Hertfordshire pub.

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During the jousting accident in 1536, Henry VIII suffered a bad leg injury. The accident reopened and aggravated an injury he had suffered years earlier, to the point that his doctors found it difficult to treat.

The chronic wound festered for the rest of his life and ulcerated, preventing him from maintaining the level of physical activity he previously enjoyed. The Tudor King subsequently died on January 28, 1547, aged 55.

But before Henry VIII died, his saddle was hidden away in a pub in Hertfordshire to prevent it causing more damage. Located on vibrant Hoddesdon High Street, the Golden Lion is said to have stored Henry VIII’s saddle in the stables as he was forbidden to ride.

Originally a coaching inn, the pub is said to be one of the oldest pubs in the country, having been established in 1535. The staircase inside was also used by 2nd class citizens if permitted to enter the pub by the owners.

Today the pub offers a traditional pub look, with live sport, bands and quiz nights. The pub’s current owners, Nigel and Mel, have been at the Golden Lion for over a decade, with Nigel having been in the pub business for 30 years.

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Clyde P. Johnson