Impossible to miss the "Henry VIII" Tower, symbol of the English occupation during the 16th century. Built just a few steps away from the train station and part of the second communal surrouding walls, the "English tower" or "Big tower" reminds us the king's passage to Tournai.
Tournai's English past
This impressive tower is the last trace of a citadel which was built in 1515 by King Henry VIII to house his soldiers after he took the town in 1513. After only a few days of bombardment, the town – and its small garrison – surrendered. He treated the town as his own and even granted it the right to send MPs to the House of Commons. English troops left Tournai in 1519 when the town was bought by Francis I of France.
The citadel, which was located in the quarter of the town called the “castle quarter” was to be destroyed in the 1669-1688 period when Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban developed the town’s fortifications, only leaving a single part of the old ones in place. Tournaisians often call it “the big tower”, because the width of its walls is impressive (almost 7 metres or 23 feet) . In 1513 Henry VIII had held a great tournament to mark his “joyous entrance”.