Trinity College statue of Henry VIII given new sceptre to mark 75th birthday of King Charles III
The statue of Trinity College founder Henry VIII has been given a new gilded sceptre in place of an old chair leg to mark the birthday of alumnus King Charles III.
On the college’s Great Gate the monarch holds an orb in his left hand and usually has a chair leg in his right hand – originating from a student prank dating back around 100 years – but he has been given a new sceptre presented by the Association of Pole-lathe Turners & Green Woodworkers (APTGW).
The sceptre was created by Kevin Downing from Ireland, and Daryl La Rue and Kathy Morch from Canada, during the APTGW’s annual Bodgers Ball gathering which this year was hosted by the Cambridge Group in Barton as the new monarch was being crowned.
Each year the group holds a ‘Log to Leg’ race to create two Windsor chair legs from an ash log without using any power tools, and this year woodworkers rose to the special coronation-year challenge of creating a sceptre.
The winning sceptre was then gilded by Trinity College carpenter Jon Squires before being given to the Tudor monarch to mark the 75th birthday of King Charles on Tuesday (November 14).
The then Prince of Wales studied at the college from 1967 to 1970. More than half a century after Trinity students celebrated his 21st birthday in 1969 by stringing ‘Happy Birthday Charlie’ across Great Court, students, staff, alumni and fellows gathered again as the choir sang Happy Birthday to the King and to two students whose birthday is also on November 14.
Meanwhile out on the cobbles by Great Gate, Trinity’s praelector Professor Hugh Hunt explained the recent change to the statue.
Vice master Professor Louise Merrett said: “Trinity is a welcoming place for students, staff and academics from all over the world and the 75th birthday of King Charles III is a wonderful opportunity to come together as a college and mark another historic occasion in this coronation year.”
Viewed from Trinity Street, the statue of Henry VIII dates from the early 1600s and is one of the city’s most popular sight because of the tales surrounding around the sceptre and chair leg. The original sceptre is believed to have been broken in the early 20th century, leaving a stump resembling a chair leg that students replaced with an actual chair leg.
A new sceptre was installed during renovations to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 but within a week students had replaced it with another chair leg.
The bright new symbol of power will remain in place for a few weeks before the traditional chair leg is returned.