July 2019 Club

Queen’s Surprise Club - The Lion in Winter (1968)

Set during the Christmas court at Chinon in France in 1183, the film portrays the family’s conflict surrounding Henry II’s (Peter O’Toole) desire to choose which of his sons will succeed him before his death. The Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), has been summoned from England for the occasion where she has been kept locked in prison by Henry for the last 10 years. Sides are quickly taken with Eleanor wanting their eldest son, Richard (Anthony Hopkins), to become the next king while Henry makes it clear he wants John, the youngest of the 3 sons, to succeed him.

The majority of the film is then the portrayal of the plots and schemes of Henry and Eleanor and the 3 sons which culminate in the decision by Henry to attempt to get his marriage annulled by the pope and marry his mistress, Alais, so they can try for a new son and heir. Henry locks the 3 sons in the dungeon, but Alais refuses to marry Henry while they are alive. Eleanor provides them with daggers and encourages them to escape and possibly kill their father but none of them are willing to harm their family, so the film ends with Eleanor heading back to her imprisonment and no decision on Henry’s successor has been made.

The script is full of great prose, delivered brilliantly by Katharine Hepburn. The impression of a strong woman able to get her own way in a male dominated environment shines through although none of the characters come across as being particularly good people. This was another film I probably would not have watched if I hadn’t chosen it for the club but I’m glad I did. While less of this story is based in reality than the previous two films, there was no Christmas court at Chinon in 1183, the background surrounding the characters and their eventual destinies is accurate.


Being set much earlier than the previous films, the costumes are less extravagant than later periods being mainly wool and fur. I have chosen a base which is 100% merino yarn – Wriggle –  that is best suited for projects which will be used with care, not hard-working socks, they are still royalty.


Eleanor – I wanted the two colours to represent the two main characters so the variegated is inspired by Katharine Hepburn’s Eleanor. I started with a neutral stone colour for the base to represent the castle she is confined by and then added sprinkles of green, brown and the red of the outfit she wears for much of the film which stands out amongst an otherwise fairly muted colour palette.

Henry – Henry’s character is a lot more complicated than this semi-solid skein would lead you to believe but he is still not able to get his own way in the end. The brown is inspired by the robes Henry wears and is a warmer colour than the variegated skein as I think he was warmer and more loving than Eleanor, who admits “I don’t much like our children”.