First up was Dr Tracey Sowerby discussing whether Henry VIII really was the architect of the English Reformation. This was a series of events in the 16th Century by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Catholic Church. The Shiplake pupils were then most surprised to hear accomplished television historian David Starkey (pictured right on BBC’s Question Time) argue that the Reformation was all down to one thing – love. His entertaining style and élan failed to convince them that Henry reshaped England all due to his passion for Anne Boleyn.
Next, Professor Bernard elucidated Henry’s relationship with Wolsey and Cromwell. Finally, after lunch, Ronald Hutton gave an enlightening talk on Henry’s foreign policy and argued that his wars in the end achieved very little. This was a day which allowed pupils (and teachers!) to test their own theories against world renowned experts, as well as get a taste of what university lectures are like. This is useful practice for the students many of whom will begin higher education courses in less than 18 months time.