At Halcyon Days, we strive to create contemporary luxury goods by drawing on the influences and practices of the past. In fact, our brand is characterised by a safeguarding of traditional craft merged with an embracing of modern design. We feel that this dual identity enables us to create timeless pieces that remain chic and desirable, outside of changing fashions.
This outlook forms the foundation of our collaborations with the Historic Royal Palaces trust including the Kensington Palace Gates, Aragon and Tudor collections. The HRP trust are a well-established organisation who share our commitments to craftsmanship and authenticity and, likewise, strive to bring the best of the past into the present. They look after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace amongst others. These culturally rich sites were once home to, and visited by, some of history’s most famous, colourful characters, and today, thanks to the trust, they’re open for everyone to explore.
This piece is the first in our ‘Iconic Inspirations’ series where you’ll find out more about the visions and influences behind some of our best-loved collections and collaborations. First, we’re looking at one of our in-house favourites; the Aragon collection.
The Lady Behind the Name: Katherine of Aragon by Unknown Artist, Circa 1520. On Loan to the National Portrait Gallery from the Church Commissioners.
Henry VIII’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, was an impressive, influential figure. She was born on the outskirts of modern day Madrid in the current UNESCO world heritage site, Alcalá de Henares. As royalty herself, the daughter of Isabela I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, she was betrothed to Arthur, the then future King of England at only three years old. They married in 1501, but Katherine was widowed just five months later.
In 1507, she was given the position of ambassador of the Aragonese crown to England, making her the first known female ambassador in European history. Soon after, she married her former husband’s younger brother Henry VIII. In the early years of their marriage, Katherine performed a period of regency while Henry was away in France. During this time, at the battle of Flodden in 1513, she gave heart to English troops with an impassioned speech that set them on their way to victory.
Her actions and character endeared her to the English public and she was widely adored despite Henry’s controversial decision to divorce her in 1533. Henry was frustrated by Katherine’s failure to produce a male heir and believed God was punishing him for marrying his brother’s former wife. Despite being spurned after more than 20 years of marriage, Katherine’s love for her husband, as well as her commitment to England, remained constant with her final letter to Henry reading "Mine eyes desire you above all things". She signed the letter "Katherine the Queen." Her death in 1536 sparked nationwide mourning.
Henry VIII's Astronomical Clock Designed by Nicholas Cratzer
Inspired in part by Katherine’s extraordinary, vibrant life, the design of our colourful Aragon collection also references the palace where she lived in her final four years as Queen. The collection’s distinctive diamond shaped patterns reflect the carvings on Hampton Court’s unmistakeable chimneys which were an integral part of the palace’s initial design in 1514. Originally built for Thomas Wolsey, he fell from favour with the King in 1529 and gifted his new property to Henry in an attempt to alleviate himself of disgrace. Henry quadrupled the palace’s size in order to accommodate his court of over one thousand people. As such, huge kitchens were constructed and so too were tens of bedrooms with enormous fireplaces. Henry added hundreds more chimneys in the ornate, red brick style that denoted fashionable extravagance at the time leaving his new residence with 241 of them in total; to this day a record number for a single property.
Four of Hampton Court's 241 Ornate Chimneys
Based on their intricate construction, the Aragon collection also draws inspiration from a fabric designed for the Historic Royal Palaces Trust by fellow Royal Warrant Holders GP & J Baker, suppliers of furnishings and fabrics to the Household of Her Majesty The Queen. Our collection re-interprets ancient Tudor architecture to contemporary effect. Boasting midnight blue colour, the English fine bone china pieces in this range are hand-gilded with a platinum edge for a final appearance that appeals to those with both classic and modern tastes.