Ghosts of Blickling Hall Norfolk

Ghosts of Blickling Hall Norfolk

A stately home, Blickling Hall forms part of the Blickling Estate in the village of Blickling, in Norfolk. The current Jacobean house, Blickling Hall was built on the ruins of a manor house, former home of the Boleyns and birth place of Anne Boleyn. Cared for by the National Trust since 1940, Blickling Hall is a popular destination throughout the year. It is more popular around May 19 each year as visitors try to get glimpses at the ghosts of Blickling Hall.

Disclaimer: This Post and all related posts may contain affiliate links including Amazon LLC. This means that I earn a commission, from qualifying purchases at no cost to you, if you click on a link and make a purchase. Access full disclaimer here or get in touch with me via Contact form if you have any questions about any of the companies. You could also take a look at our Trusted Partners

Anne Boleyn: Biography

Born: c1501 | Blickling Castle, Norfolk

Died: May 19 1536, Tower Green, Tower of London | Executed

Reigned: June 1533 – May 1536

Coronation: June 1 1533

Parents: Sir Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Duke of Norfolk

Spouse: Henry VIII

Children: Elizabeth I

Succeeded by: Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife

Ghosts of Blickling Hall Norfolk

Blickling Hall is said to be haunted by Britain’s most famous ghost – Anne Boleyn. Each year on the anniversary of her execution, May 19, she is reportedly seen arriving by coach drawn by headless horseman and four headless horses. Dressed in all white, she carries her severed head and glides the rooms and corridors until daybreak.

Sightings of Anne and the carriage have been frequent and reported by witnesses giving it some degree of credibility. In 1979, an apparition, supposedly of Anne was sighted in the library.

Another reported sighting of a ghostly inhabitant of Bickling Hall is Thomas Boleyn, Anne’s father. Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire was an ambitious man who engineered the marriage of his daughter, Anne Boleyn to King Henry VIII. He also betrayed Anne and his son George at the trial of Anne to save himself. Anne and George were executed. Folklore has it that for his wrong doings and as penance, he is required to cross a dozen bridges before cockcrows for a thousand years. His route is from Blickling>Aylsham>Burg>Buxton Coltishall>Meyton>Oxnead and finally to Wroxham.

Thomas Boleyn is reportedly seen carrying his severed head under his arms, and gushing flame from his mouth. (There is a flaw in this tale, as Thomas Boleyn died in his bed, with his head intact!)

Headless apparitions of the Boleyns are not the only ghosts of Blickling Hall. This magnificent mansion is said to be haunted by Sir John Fastolfe, the fifteenth century knight. He is seen throughout the building.

A ‘Grey Lady’ has also been reportedly seen floating through walls.

A little background to Blickling Estate, Norfolk

Ghosts of Blickling Hall Norfolk
Blickling Hall, Norfolk | Wikimedia

Blickling Estate was originally owned by Sir John Fastolf of Caister between 1380 and 1459. He made a fortune during the Hundred Years’ War. His coat of arms is still on display here.

Later, the property became home to the Boleyns, Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and his wife, Elizabeth Howard, daughter to Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey between 1499 and 1505. Three of their surviving children were born at Blickling – Mary, Anne and George.

Blickling Estate was purchased by Sir Henry Hobart, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and 1st Baronet from Robert Clere in 1616. He commissioned Robert Lyminge, the architect to design the current Jacobean structure. The Blickling Hall seen today was built on the ruins of the manor house owned by the Boleyns.

The property stayed in the Hobart’s family until it was passed down to William Kerr, the 8th Marquess of Lothian.

During the Second World War, the house was requisitioned and served as the Officers Mess of the RAF Oulton. Afterwards, the house and the entire Blickling Estate was passed to the National Trust.

The house was de-requisitioned after the war and the National Trust rented it out to tenants until 1960. The Trust began working on the property to restore it to its historical style and beauty. The house, Blickling Hall, Gardens and Park was opened to the public in 1962 and has continued to be cared for by the National Trust and remains open the same to this day.

How to visit Blickling Hall, Blickling Estate, Norfolk

blickling.estate.nationaltrust | Ghosts of Blickling Hall Norfolk
Blickling Estate | National Trust

Blickling Hall, Gardens and Parkland that forms Blickling Estate is cared for by the National Trust. It is said that one day at the Estate is never enough! Nevertheless, if one day is all you have, then a visit will not disappoint as the Blickling Estate has something for everyone.

The Gardens and Park are open throughout all seasons but to avoid disappointment, ensure to pre-book your visit.

Plan your visit to Blickling Estate

How to get to Blickling Estate

Blickling Estate is located at the following address:

Blickling, Norwich, Norfolk, NR11 6NF

By Train

Aylsham (Bure Valley Railway from Hoveton and Wroxham) 2.8 km (1.75 miles) | North Walsham – 13 km (8 miles)

Buy your train tickets from Trainline UK, one of the best, popular and reliable suppliers of train tickets to passengers.

By Bus

Services from Norwich to Holt and Sheringham, alight at Aylsham, then 2.8 km (1.5 miles)

By Road

NW of Aylsham on B1354, signposted off A140 Norwich/Cromer – 2.4 km (1.5 miles)

Book places to stay near Blickling Estate

Rated as Excellent by visitors, Sankence Lodge is located 4.4 km from Blickling Hall. Managed by a private host, the property boasts garden views, free WiFi and parking

Peruse further and book your stay here

Peruse further on some carefully selected accommodation options in Aylsham, Norfolk to suit your style by navigating to this page.


If you have enjoyed reading this post on Ghosts of Blickling Hall, you may also like to learn a more on the history of Britain and wider UK. Here are some suggestions for you:

Magnificent Hever Castle | Childhood home of Anne Boleyn


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Blickling Hall, popular throughout the year and more so around May 19 each year as visitors try to get glimpses at the ghosts of Blickling Hall via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/Blickling Hall, popular throughout the year and more so around May 19 each year as visitors try to get glimpses at the ghosts of Blickling Hall via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/

5 Rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London

5 Rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London

A landmark of London, St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most visited attraction and it never fails to leave visitors in awe. There are many rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London from a stand alone entry ticket with full access to all floors to private guided tours so you get to know of its history from a knowledgeable source. However, for great value for money tours, you could always combine a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral with a visit to other landmarks in London. In addition, you could purchase London Pass over several days so you could explore London at your own pace.

Whichever way you choose to learn more of St Paul’s Cathedral, the following 5 rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral have been carefully selected to enhance and add value to your visit.

Disclaimer: This Post and all related posts may contain affiliate links including Amazon LLC. This means that I earn a commission, from qualifying purchases at no cost to you, if you click on a link and make a purchase. Access full disclaimer here or get in touch with me via Contact form if you have any questions about any of the companies. You could also take a look at our Trusted Partners

Entry ticket to St Paul’s Cathedral

5 rewarding ways to experience St Pauls Cathedral | A glimpse of the interior of St Paul's Cathedral. The nave where the choir sits on both sides.
A glimpse of the interior of St Paul’s Cathedral. The nave where the choir sits on both sides | Image: georgina_daniel

Enjoy this famous landmark of London with a discounted entry ticket. This ticket gives you access to the Cathedral floor and its crypt, its three galleries, affording you panoramic views over London.

This option is suitable for visitors who wish to explore this beautiful Cathedral at their own pace. Nevertheless, 2 to 3 hours is recommended for a rewarding and immersive experience.

Buy entry ticket to St Paul’s Cathedral from Get Your Guide here

Combining St Paul’s Cathedral with other attractions in London

1 | Explore London on foot

Explore the City on foot and learn of London’s history. See 30 of London’s landmarks including the 1400 year old St Paul’s Cathedral.

This walking tour begins in Green Park, London and will take you through about 30 landmarks in London including:

Buckingham Palace | Trafalgar Square | Big Ben | Downing Street | Westminster Abbey | Whitehall | Houses of Parliament | London Eye | Shakespeare’s Globe Theater | London Bridge | Southwark Cathedral | The Shard | HMS Belfast | Square Mile | Tower Bridge | Tower of London

Your final stop is St Paul’s Cathedral where your guide will leave you to explore the Cathedral at your own pace. Entry to St Paul’s is included in this tour price

This tour takes approximately 6 hours and requires good footwear.

2 | St Paul’s Cathedral + London Eye + Tower of London + Thames River Cruise

Join this full day tour of London city which will take you on a historic journey of London – from Tower of London, Greenwich and St Paul’s Cathedral. Marvel at the magnificent Crown Jewels at the Tower, explore Greenwich on foot, enjoy the marvelous panoramic views over the city from the iconic London Eye. As well, learn more of London while on a cruise of the famous River Thames.

This tour includes admission to the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral. As always, when on a London tour, wear appropriate footwear.

3 | Westminster + St Paul’s Cathedral Walking tour

This comprehensive walking tour takes you through the popular area of Westminster in London. Learn much from your knowledgeable guide before arriving at St Paul’s Cathedral where the tour guide leaves you to explore the Cathedral at your own pace.

Entry to St Paul’s Cathedral is included in this tour and is provided by our Trusted Partner, Viator, a Tripadvisor company.

4 | Enjoy London on a London hop-on hop-off bus tour

Design an itinerary on London and explore the city at your own pace with one of these great value for money hop-on hop-off bus experiences. Hop-on and hop-off as much as you like between six different bus routes for the duration of your ticket and explore on foot with free walking tours. See Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Piccadilly Circus, London Eye, Tower of London, and much more with this offer. This offer is subject to T & Cs as it depends very much on whether your purchase is for 24, 48 or 72 hours.

5 | Enjoy London with over 80+ attractions with The London Pass

Access over 80 attractions and one day of hop-on hop-off bus tour with this highly recommended discounted London Pass. Valid for the selected duration of 1 to 10 days (from first activation), the London Pass comes with a guide book packed with helpful tips, and maps, making this selection one of the many rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London.

For more experiences in and around London + UK – view the following posts

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The magnificent Hever Castle | Anne Boleyn’s Childhood Home

The Magnificent Hever Castle | Anne Boleyn’s Childhood Home

Planning a visit to the Magnificent Hever Castle | Anne Boleyn’s Childhood Home

the magnificent hever castle
Hever Castle, Kent

Planning a visit to Hever Castle could not be easier – in this article you will find all the information you need. To add value to your visit, there is a quick guide to the castle’s seven-hundred-year history, a brief look at it’s famous resident Anne Boleyn (you can read all about Anne Boleyn in a much detail post here), the exhibitions and practical information on how to get to Hever Castle. As well, a little guide to places to eat and where to stay, should you decide to make a weekend trip instead of a day trip. First, let us start with a little introduction to Hever, a historic English village.

Disclaimer: This Post and all related posts may contain affiliate links including Amazon LLC. This means that I earn a commission, from qualifying purchases at no cost to you, if you click on a link and make a purchase. Access full disclaimer here or get in touch with me via Contact form if you have any questions about any of the companies. You could also take a look at our Trusted Partners

About Hever Village

The historic Hever village is quite a small village near Edenbridge, in the District of Kent, England. Nestled in a serene and beautiful unspoilt countryside, surrounded with farmland and woodlands, Hever offers quiet country walks along its River Eden and pleasant days out, away from the bustle of city life. This little village has a public house and a church but dominated by Hever Castle, thus making Hever a prominent destination on anyone’s checklist of things to see and do in wider Kent.

A quick guide to the history of the magnificent Hever Castle

The history of Hever Castle spans over 700 years, beginning from the 13th century. The original structure was a medieval defensive castle with a gatehouse and walled bailey constructed in 1270. The castle was in need of repairs and was sold to Geoffrey Boleyn in 1462. Geoffrey Boleyn converted it into a mansion, and added a Tudor dwelling within its walls. From 1462 to 1539 the castle was under the ownership of the Boleyn family.

The Boleyn Family

The Boleyn Family | Coats of Arms
Coats of Arms of the Boleyn Family | Founded 1283 by John Boleyn. Dissolution in 1539 upon death of Thomas Boleyn

In 1505, Thomas Boleyn, Geoffrey Boleyn’s grandson inherited Hever Castle. He lived there with his family, wife – Lady Elizabeth Howard, and their children – Mary, Anne and George.

Hever Castle was Anne Boleyn’s childhood home. She lived there until 1513 when she was sent to the Netherlands for education. From Netherlands, Anne may have gone to Paris before returning to England to be lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, queen consort to King Henry VIII. Anne may have been in her early twenties at that time.

Henry fell in love with Anne Boleyn who refused to be his mistress, instead insisted to becoming his wife. They courted for seven years while Henry tried to annul his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. It finally led to the Reformation with King Henry renouncing Catholicism, creating Church of England and becoming the head of the church.

King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

King Henry VIII

Following the Reformation, Henry and Anne were married in 1533. Anne gave birth to Elizabeth, who later became the renowned Queen Elizabeth I. However, Henry was disappointed because he wanted a male heir who would inherit the throne from him. With Anne having a male stillborn in 1536, Henry decided his marriage to Anne was over and he wanted to marry the younger Jane Seymour, lady-in-waiting and cousin to Anne, in the hope that she would give him a son.

Shrouded in conspiracy and scandal, charges were brought against Anne for incest, adultery, and treason amongst others, resulting in the incomprehensible tragedy – Anne was beheaded on May 19 1536 at Tower Green, Tower of London. She was Queen of England between 1533 and 1536, just a little over a thousand days.

Anne Boleyn | Hever Castle | The magnificent Hever Castle
Anne Boleyn | Hever Castle

After her execution, King Henry ordered for all things “Anne Boleyn” to be destroyed. As a result, documentary evidence of Anne Boleyn’s life is missing from British history and not much is known of Anne’s life and her thoughts. What is known of her today is information that had been passed down from her friends and very few belongings of her that escaped destruction. There are no portraits of her existing from during her reign or when she was alive. The portraits of her that are around were commissioned during the reign of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. As well, information that is known of her today were unearthed through much research by historians and writers.

View all recommended books written about Anne Boleyn and her family by famous historians from this carefully selected collection

Visiting Hever Castle is an opportunity to view what is thought to have been Anne’s bedroom and two personal prayer books in which she wrote. Both books bear her signature.

View article on Anne Boleyn | The most magnetic and Enduring of Tudor Queens

After the Boleyns

After the passing of Thomas Boleyn, Anne Boleyn’s father in 1539, Hever Castle came into Henry VIII’s possession. The castle was then bestowed to Anne of Cleves in 1540, Henry’s fourth wife as part of their annulment of marriage.

Hever Castle passed through many subsequent owners and came to rest with the American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor in 1903 who used it as a family residence. He spent his time and money in restoring the castle and inventing new developments. He created ‘Tudor Village‘ which is called the ‘Astor Wing‘ these days. He also invested in the construction and elaborate extension of the garden and lake. The property was subsequently sold to Broadland Properties Limited in 1983 who manages Hever Castle as an attraction.

Learn more about The Boleyn Family | Who were they and What happened to them after Anne’s death

Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle

Anne Boleyn is a figure that continues to intrigue historians and haunts British culture. There have been numerous sightings of Anne across England – Tower of London, Blickling Hall, Marwell Hall, Hever Castle and Hampton Court Palace.

Anne is said to appear each Christmas at Hever Castle, often happy as she used to be in her childhood. It has also been said that she appears around an old oak tree where she and Henry spent time together when they courted. She has also been seen walking across the bridge in the castle grounds which crosses River Eden.

Learn more about Anne Boleyn’s ghost and sightings in: Anne Boleyn Britain’s Most Well Travelled Ghost – stay tuned

What to Expect when visiting the magnificent Hever Castle

Give plenty of time when visiting Hever Castle. The castle appears deceptively small but there are much to experience, both indoors and outdoors. For an immersive experience, give yourself at least four to five hours.

The magnificent Hever Castle Gardens and Grounds

Hever Castle Garden | Kent

The magnificent Hever Castle is set in one hundred and twenty five acres of splendid glorious grounds! Nature and wildlife is abundant here and features of new habitations and eco systems have also been established.

The Lake is a thirty-eight acre lake constructed between 1904 and 1906. It is remarkably serene, peaceful and tranquil offering incredible vistas, nature trails, fun and great nature photography opportunity.

A walk around the lake and you may see robins, and woodpeckers as well as swans and herons. According to the castle’s website, one may be lucky enough to hear the glorious sound of the nightingale on very quiet evenings around the lake and the river.

The Loggia overlooks the lake and is a perfect spot to relax before embarking on a stroll through the Tudor Garden, Blue Corner and Anne Boleyn Walk. Anne Boleyn’s Orchard features old English varieties of apples and pears while Chestnut Avenue features chestnut trees planted in 1904-1908. From the Loggia, you could catch a view of the Japanese Tea House folly on the edge of the lake or you could access it by either taking the Lake Walk or hire a boat to row across the lake. Once at the Tea House, you could walk around it but there is no access to its interior.

Some experiences along the walk in the Hever Castle grounds
Some experiences along the walk in the Hever Castle grounds

Allow time to stay still and enjoy the tranquility and vistas afforded around the lake by hiring and rowing one of the boats, canoes or pedalos.

The Italian Garden is highly recommended. It is one of the popular places on the magnificent Hever Castle grounds that is uplifting and a wonderful area to sit and relax.

Italian Garden | the magnificent Hever Castle | Kent
Italian Garden | Hever Castle | Kent

The gardens feature a breathtaking display of 4000 rose bushes and more than 20000 spring bulbs along with 15000 bedding plants throughout the year. In Spring, the delightful 90000 snowdrops carpet the grounds, the uplifting crocuses and the colourful daffodils are in bloom while in Summer, the Rose Garden draws visitors to its kaleidoscope of colours and wonderful aroma. Autumn brings the trees to fore especially at Anne Boleyn’s orchard and as one may imagine, Winter sees the trees glow against the winter sky.

With so much to see, the outdoors to Hever Castle offer spectacular experiences no matter the season.

Lake and lock gates at Hever Castle

Hever Castle is only a hundred and twenty feet above sea level. It’s site on such low ground and close to River Eden together with a moat surrounding the castle which joined the river caused flooding of the castle courtyard. This led to the creation of a lake to the east of the castle with lock gates. These lock gates would control the level of the water upstream from the castle.

Inside the magnificent Hever Castle

Drawbridge leading to Hever Castle
Drawbridge and the front portcullis (said to be the oldest in England) leading to the Castle

Inside the thirteenth century castle features grand panelled rooms decorated with antique furnishings, beautiful, dazzling tapestries and an incredible collection of Tudor portraits, only second to the National Portrait Gallery. The following are some of the highlights to experience when you walk across the inner moat via a working drawbridge, which was reinstated by William Astor in early 20th century.

The oldest part of the castle is the medieval chamber in the Gatehouse and this dates back to the thirteenth century.

The Entrance Hall was added c1506 by Thomas Boleyn. Some timber framed additions were installed by the Boleyns in the fifteenth and sixteenth century which are still visible today.

The present Dining Hall was the Great Hall in the fifteenth century and features a grand fireplace surmounted by the Boleyn coat of arms. When visiting the dining hall, look out for the Boleyns original feature on the right hand side under the window.

As well, look out for an intricate lock thought to be owned by King Henry VIII. Henry had a lock to his bedchamber wherever he went as a measure of security.

The impressive library was created in 1905 from what used to be administrative offices during the Tudor period. Above its fireplace is the portrait of Johann Jakob Astor, founder of the Astor fortune.

The Morning Room is a room where you can admire the great architecture of the seventeenth century. The panelling and fireplace dates back to this era. A closer look at the stone surrounding the fireplace reveal initials H.W. carved into it. This represent the Waldegrave family who owned Hever Castle between 1557 and 1715.

room.of.hours.hever.cast;e
Book of Hours Room | Hever Castle, Kent

The Anne Boleyn’s Bedroom feature a half-domed ceiling and is said to be an original fifteenth-century design to give the room greater space and light. By far the most touching of exhibitions relating to Anne Boleyn is the Book of Hours Room. On display are the treasured two prayer books belonging to Anne. She wrote in them and it has her signature. Personal prayer books were popular in England before the Reformation. The prayer books are called ‘Book of Hours’ representing the short services dedicated to the Virgin Mary on the eight fixed hours of the day.

Other highlights of the interior of the castle includes:

The Staircase Gallery built over the entrance hall around 1506 by Thomas Boleyn. This gallery is home to the unusual find of Mary, Queen of Scot in Mourning portrait.

The King Henry VIII’s bedroom dates to the sixteenth century and houses the oldest ceiling in the castle from c.1462. Henry is said to have stayed in this room during his courtship with Anne.

The Waldegrave Room has a hidden Oratory behind wood panelling which was built in 1584 so the Waldegraves could practice their Catholic faith in secret.

long.hall.hever.castle
The impressive Long Gallery at Hever Castle, Kent

The Long Gallery really is an impressive construction. It extends the entire width of the castle with panelling dating back to the sixteenth century. An incredible collection of eighteen original portraits tells the story of the Tudors from Henry VI through to Henry VIII.

The tour of the interior of the castle ends at the Gatehouse which now houses a collection of historic swords, armour, instruments of torture and execution.

The remarkable difference between the original thirteenth century structure and the later additions in the sixteenth century cannot be more obvious than at the castle Courtyard. The front portcullis is a working mechanism and is said to be the oldest in the country, dating back to the thirteenth century.


Hever Castle is a remarkable structure and offers a wealth of information about the Boleyns and the Tudors. The intricate architecture speaks volume of painstaking craftmanship with some of the castle’s original features still existing. The best of these architectural marvel are above you-don’t forget to look up at the high ceilings in the Inner Hall and be amazed at the Tudor Roses dedicated to the Tudor reign and the two queen consorts who lived at Hever Castle.


Practical information on Opening Hours and How to get to Hever Castle

Hever Castle is located in the rural countryside on the border of Kent/Surrey/Sussex with convenient UK motorway and rail links. Gatwick Airport is 30 minutes away from the Castle.

Address: Hever Castle & Gardens
Hever
Edenbridge
Kent TN8 7NG

Opening hours:

Spring: til 28 Mar Last entry: 3 p.m. Final Exit: 4:30 p.m.

29 Mar – 30 Oct Last entry: 4:30 pm Final exit: 6 p.m.

1 Nov – 26 Nov (Wed through to Sun) Last entry: 15:00 Final exit: 4:30 p.m.

How to get to Hever Castle by road:

Hever Castle is located at about 48 km (30 miles) from central London and about 5 km (3 miles) southeast of Edenbridge, off the B2026 between Sevenoaks and East Grinstead in the village of Hever.

The Castle can also be reached via junction 10 of the M23, and is signposted from junctions 5 and 6 of the M25 and the Hildenborough exit of the A21.

Parking:

There is more than one car park. Parking is free and accessible parking is available. Staff are available to guide you to a car park that is available to use.

Note: Car park closes 15 minutes after last exit from the grounds.

By Rail

Trains run from London Victoria Station and London Bridge Station either via Oxted or East Croydon to:

Edenbridge Town Station:

Edenbridge Station is located about 5 km (3 miles) from Hever Castle. Take a taxi from the station to the Castle. You could book a taxi before hand with Relyon Taxis who operate from close the station. Relyon can be reached on 01732 863800.

Hever Station:

Hever Station is unmanned and there are no taxis nearby. It is located about 1.6 km (1 mile) from the Castle and involves a rural walk to the Castle.

Eurostar Terminal:

Ashford is 1.5 hours drive to the Castle

Ebbsfleet International is 1 hour drive to the Castle

By Air

Gatwick Airport is 30 minutes away and Heathrow Airport is 1 hour away, and then follow directions either by road or rail as above.

Book your long haul flights with Qatar Airways

Places to Eat

A visit to Hever Castle is best enjoyed over a picnic in their beautiful grounds. As well, Hever Castle offer catering facilities and you can enjoy tea, coffee, cakes, light refreshments at its cafe or lunch at its restaurants.

Afternoon Tea served in the Tudor Suite Dining Room and Sitting Room

On weekends only – available on one weekend per month only excluding Nov/Dec. Sittings are at 1 pm and 3:30 pm. Vegan and vegetarian menu available.

Moat Restaurant

Moat Restaurant is a great place for coffee or a meal suitable for all the family. Enjoy a variety of freshly made sandwiches and freshly baked cakes.

Guthrie Pavilion Cafe

Offers a range of snacks including sandwiches, hot and cold drinks and freshly baked cakes

There are also Pizza Van | Ice Cream Kiosks | The Loggia Bar | Tudor Towers Kiosk | The Waterside Bar, Restaurant & Terrace


Places to Stay at Hever

Stay at magnificent Hever Castle
Stay at Hever Castle, Kent

Rated as exceptional, enjoy a memorable stay at the Luxury Bed & Breakfast located either in the Astor Wing, Anne Boleyn Wing or an Edwardian Wing attached to Hever Castle.

Peruse more Places to Stay near the magnificent Hever Castle on:

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Now, its your turn – what do you think? Is this article valuable to you in planning your visit to Hever Castle? Please let me know in comments below or Contact us at Timeless Travel Steps. Share your views and/or ask any questions you may have, we look forward to responding to all of your questions.

For now, have a wonderful time discovering and exploring Hever and the Kent countryside.

Georgina xx

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The Boleyn Family | Who were they and What happened to them after Anne’s death

The Boleyn Family

The Boleyn family was one of the most respected and prominent family in English aristocracy. They reached the peak of their influence during Tudor rule when Anne Boleyn, the daughter to Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard became the second wife, Queen consort to King Henry VIII in 1533. Then in 1536, an incomprehensible tragedy fell upon them. The Boleyn family were almost destroyed! Two members of the family had their lives put to death and three fundamentally damaged.

This is their story.

This article on the Boleyn Family forms part of a series of articles on the History of Britain as an easy read on Sundays

Disclaimer: This Post and all related posts may contain affiliate links including Amazon LLC. This means that I earn a commission, from qualifying purchases at no cost to you, if you click on a link and make a purchase. Access full disclaimer here or get in touch with me via Contact form if you have any questions about any of the companies. You could also take a look at our Trusted Partners

The Boleyn Family

In 1536, on the morning of May 19, a young courageous woman, dressed in a black robe and a white ermine trim was taken to the scaffold in Tower Green that was specially built for her. She was mercilessly executed by a single swipe of a sword by a skilled French swordsman on charges of adultery, incest, treason and witchcraft. She was not even given a coffin. She was wrapped in a white cloth, placed in an old elm chest, and buried at the Tower Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.

This woman was Anne Boleyn.

Anne Boleyn

“Anna Bollein Queen” by Hans Holbein

Anne Boleyn was one of the three surviving children of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and 1st Earl of Ormonde and Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, the 2nd Duke of Norfolk. Her siblings were Mary, older to Anne and George, her younger brother. Anne is said to be an intelligent, witty, proud and a principled individual.

Anne Boleyn | Early years and Education

Anne spent her early years at Hever Castle, the Boleyns family home before she went to Netherlands and France. Anne received good education, typical for woman of her status. She spoke French fluently and she dressed well, bringing French fashion to the English court. She also learnt music, dance and singing along with archery, horseback riding and hunting.

Anne Boleyn | Marriage

Anne Boleyn married King Henry VIII officially on June 1 1933 in an elaborate ceremony followed by a banquet and became queen consort. She was pregnant at that time and gave birth to Elizabeth on September 7 1533. Elizabeth would later inherit the throne and become Queen Elizabeth I. However, Henry desperately wanted a male heir, and he soon fell for Jane Seymour, Anne’s cousin.

Anne Boleyn | Charges, Trial and Execution

In May of 1536, Anne was arrested, charged with incest, adultery with four men, treason and witchcraft. She was taken to the Tower of London to await her trial. The charges were instigated by her former friend, Thomas Cromwell. These charges sat well with the King also as he wanted to be rid of Anne as well. Anne was found guilty on all counts at a trial held on May 15 1536.

Read the full story here – Anne Boleyn | The most magnificent of Tudor Queens.

Thomas Boleyn | 1st Earl of Wiltshire, 1st Earl of Ormonde (1477-1539)

Thomas Boleyn | Wikidata

Thomas Boleyn was an English nobleman, a diplomat and a politician. He was made Knight of the Garter in 1523, Viscount Rochford in 1525 and Earl of Wiltshire and Earl of Ormond in 1529. Father to Anne Boleyn (r. 1533-1536) and maternal grandfather to Queen Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603).

Born in 1477 at Blickling Manor in Norfolk, Thomas Boleyn was the son of Sir William Boleyn (1451-1505) of Blickling and Lady Margaret Butler (1454-1539), daughter of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond.

Blickling was owned by Sir William’s father, Sir Geoffrey Boleyn a wealthy London merchant who served as Lord Mayor of London. He purchased the manor of Blickling, Norfolk in 1452 from Sir John Fastolf. He also came to own Hever Castle in Kent in 1462.

Thomas Boleyn | Career and Marriage

Thomas was an ambitious man who was a successful diplomat and courtier. He was active in the court of Henry VII and in 1503, he escorted Princess Margaret Tudor to Scotland to marry King James IV.

He married Lady Elizabeth Howard, eldest daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and they had three surviving children:

Mary Boleyn (c.1499 – July 19 1543)

Anne Boleyn (c.1501 – May 19 1536)

George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford (c.1504 – 17 May 1536).

Thomas Boleyn was said to be a loving father, who had grand ambitions for his children. He ensured each received excellent education, both languages and skills, while he continued to build his reputation at court. While he was an ambassador to the Netherlands, he secured a position for his daughter, Anne at the court of the Archduchess Margaret of Austria.

Later, in 1514, he secured a position for both his daughters to accompany Princess Mary, Henry VIII’s sister to France for her marriage to 52 year old King Louis XII.

Thomas Boleyn | What happened after Anne’s Execution

After the execution of his children, Anne and George in 1536, he was stripped of his titles and removed from royal favour. However, it is said that he was soon back in favour in the royal court. He was active in squashing the rebellion of the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536. He was invited to Edward VI’s christening in October 1537. By 1538, he was rumoured to marry Margaret Douglas, niece to Henry VIII. When he died, Henry VIII ordered masses to be said for his soul, clear evidence that Thomas Boleyn was back in favour.

Thomas Boleyn | Final days

Before his death, Thomas Boleyn appears to have taken steps to reconcile with his only surviving daughter, Mary Boleyn. He allowed Mary and her husband to live in Rochford Hall in Essex, and upon his death, he left the Rochford estate to Mary.

Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire died on March 12 1539 at Hever Castle – just under three years after the death of his daughter, Anne and his son, George.

An elaborate memorial brass to Sir Thomas Boleyn at St Peter’s Church, Hever | Photo: Free stock images.

He was laid to rest at St Peter’s Church, Hever. Topped with an elaborate memorial brass depicting Thomas dressed in robe and insignia of a Knight of the Garter, a badge on his left breast and a garter around his left knee. The inscription on his tomb reads:

“Here lieth Sir Thomas Bullen, Knight of the Order of the Garter, Erle of Wilscher and Erle or Ormunde, which deceased the 12th dai of Marche in the iere of our Lorde 1538”

His tomb still survives today.

Note: the date of death is 1538 because the Tudor calendar started on March 25, and not January 1.

If you visit Hever, visit also Hever Castle, home to the Boleyn family, childhood home of Anne Boleyn, and St Peter’s Church.

St Peter’s Church dates back to 12th century and is open daily throughout the year. Worship has been held here for over 875 years with Sunday services said in Traditional Language.

St Peter’s Church is located next to Hever Castle, in the heart of Hever, Kent.

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire (1486-1538)

Believed to be Elizabeth Howard Boleyn

Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire was an English noblewoman, born in Arundel Castle, Sussex, the eldest daughter to Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and his first wife, Elizabeth Tilney. She was a direct descendant of King Edward I of England. Mother to Mary, Anne, George and maternal grandmother to Queen Elizabeth I. She is said to be of proud and ambitious in character.

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn | Relationship with her children

Not much is known of Elizabeth Boleyn except that she was a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth of York, the mother of King Henry VIII. When Henry VIII was crowned King of England, she was again appointed lady-in-waiting to his queen, Catherine of Aragon.

Elizabeth Boleyn’s relationship with her daughter Mary, was a strained one, probably because of Mary’s unchaste behaviour. In contrast, her relationship with daughter Anne, is said to be a positive one. They shared a special bond and Elizabeth took an interest in Anne’s early education when they were at Hever Castle. Anne was taught music, singing, and dancing. Anne also became an expert at embroidery and enjoyed poetry under her mother’s guidance.

Elizabeth was a regular at court and acted as a chaperone to Anne and Henry during their courtship. She was present at her daughter’s coronation ceremony in 1533 and possibly rode in the first carriage with the Dowager Duchess, Anne’s step-grandmother (Ives, p. 177).

When Anne was taken to the Tower of London to await her trial, she was heard to exclaim, “Oh, my mother, thou wilt die with sorrow” (Weir, p. 317-319).

After the execution of her children, Anne and George, on charges of incest and treason, Elizabeth and her husband retired to Hever Castle.

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn | Her final days

Elizabeth died on April 3 1538. She is said to have suffered from a cough and cold, but it is believed she died of a broken heart. After Mary Boleyn’s disgrace and banishment from court, losing her children, Anne and George by execution for treason and incest, her husband striped off of his titles, it is more likely that she may have died of a broken heart. She died in a property near Baynard’s Castle, home to the Abbot of Reading. She was buried in the Howard aisle of St Mary’s Church, Lambeth on April 7 1538.

St Mary’s Church located next to Lambeth Palace, was decommissioned in 1972. It is now called the Garden Museum which re-opened in 2017.

The Garden Museum dates from the medieval era to present day. The Garden Museum was founded by Rosemary and John Nicholson in 1977 in order to rescue the abandoned church of St Mary’s at Lambeth, which was due for demolition. The church is the burial place of John Tradescant (c1570 – 1638), the first great gardener and plant-hunter in British history. His magnificent and enigmatic tomb is the centre-piece of the Sackler Garden, designed to reflect Tradescant’s life and spirit.

Garden Museum

Address: 5 Lambeth Palace Rd, South Bank, London SE1 7LB

Elizabeth’s grave is not visible. It is under the wooden floor of the museum gift shop. The exact location is uncertain also as the memorial brass which marked the spot is now lost.

Mary Boleyn | Lady Mary Boleyn (c.1499-1543)

Mary Boleyn

Mary Boleyn was the older sister to Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII Queen consort.

Mary Boleyn | Education and Career

She was likely to have been educated alongside her sister, Anne and her brother, George at Hever Castle, Kent and given the education essential for young ladies of her rank and status. She was accomplished in dancing, embroidery, etiquette, household management, music, needlework, and singing along with games of chess, archery, falconry, riding and hunting.

Mary remained in England for most of her childhood. Her first trip abroad was in 1514 when she accompanied Princess Mary to France who was marrying King Louis XII. When King Louis XII died just three days after being married, most of the Queen’s maids were sent away but Mary remained.

Mary is said to have had an affair with King Francis I of France for some period between 1515 and 1519. She returned to England thereafter and was appointed lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, queen consort to Henry VIII.

She was one of Henry’s mistresses for a period of time before Henry fell in love with her sister, Anne.

Mary Boleyn | Marriage and Children

As a way to concealing Mary’s affair with King Henry VIII, and her shameful banishment from France’s court, she was married off to William Carey, a gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Mary and William had a son, Henry Carey. However, William sadly contracted the ‘sweating disease’ and died, leaving Mary with considerable debt. Henry VIII granted Anne Boleyn ward-ship of her nephew, whom she ensured was educated at a Catholic monastery. Anne also ensured that Mary received an annual pension.

In 1534, Mary secretly married William Stafford, a soldier, a status considered to be far below her own. When her marriage was discovered, her family disowned her and was also banished from the royal court. Her financial circumstances became desperate but is reported she admittedly saying:

“I had rather beg my bread with him than to be the greatest queen in Christendom. And I believe verily…he would not forsake me to be a king”

Anne stepped in to help her with some money but did not reinstate her to the court. This seems to be the closest they came to reconciling after Mary’s exile from the king’s court. There are no records of Mary between 1534 and Anne’s execution in 1536, or any records of visits with her parents or her siblings when they were imprisoned.

Mary and her father, Thomas Boleyn reconciled to some extent before he passed. Mary inherited the Rochford Hall and the Rochford Estate in Essex. .

Mary Boleyn is recorded to have four children, two carrying the name Carey and two by her second marriage, Stafford.

Catherine Carey (1524-1569) was lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. Married Sir Francis Knollys, Knight of the Garter in 1540. She became lady of bedchamber to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Her daughter, Lettice Knollys, was second wife to Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I.

Henry Carey 1st Baron Hunsdon (1526-1596), Knight of the Garter. Married to Anne Morgan and they had sixteen children. Anne Morgan was appointed to the office of Keeper of Somerset House, by Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Edward Stafford (1535-1545)

Anne Stafford (1536-unknown)

It was rumoured that Catherine Carey and Henry Carey were Henry VIII children, but there is no evidence to suggest that the King was the biological father.

Mary Boleyn Stafford | Final days

Mary Boleyn Stafford died of unknown causes on either on July 19 or July 30 1543 – the exact date is unknown. She is known to have spent her last days at Rochford Hall. However, her final resting place is unknown and remains a mystery.

George Boleyn | 2nd Viscount Rochford (c.1503-May 17 1536)

Possibly George Boleyn | Wikidata

An English nobleman and courtier, he played a prominent role in politics in the early 1530s. He is said to be intelligent, persuasive, proud and arrogant in character. He was accused of incest with his sister, Anne Boleyn, queen consort of Henry VIII. He was beheaded on May 17 1536.

Only son of Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Elizabeth Howard Boleyn, George Boleyn was born in Blickling Hall circa 1503. His first couple of years was spent at Blickling estate, but the Boleyn family moved to Hever Castle, Kent in 1505 when Thomas Boleyn inherited the castle from his father, Sir William Boleyn.

George Boleyn | Education, Career Marriage

George received excellent education. Along with his sisters, he spoke French fluently. He also mastered Italian and Latin. George is thought to have stayed in England for most of his early years.

George’s diplomatic career took off in late 1529 when he was knighted. He undertook the courtesy title of Viscount Rochford. At the young age of 25, he undertook his first ambassadorial mission to France. In total, he undertook six missions, with the final being in May 1935 where he negotiated a marriage contract between the King of France’s third son, Charles II of Orleans and his niece, baby Princess Elizabeth. In addition to his diplomatic skills, George was much admired for his linguistic and poetic talent.

George married Jane Parker in 1524. There are not much information on Jane or if they had any children but it is thought that Jane may have played a role in the judgments against George.

George Boleyn | Charges, Trial and Execution

On May 2 1536, George was arrested on charges of incest and treason and stood trial on May 15 1536. Anne was tried a few hours before George and was found guilty. As Anne was found guilty of incest, amongst other charges, before George, he could hardly be acquitted. According to trial papers, George is said to have put forward an incredible defence and many thought that he would be acquitted. There was no evidence of incest and George was convicted on a presumption.

On the morning of May 17, 1536, George along with the other four who were accused to have adulterous affairs with Anne Boleyn, were led to Tower Hill scaffold to be beheaded. George Boleyn was the first to be beheaded.

George Boleyn | Final speech

On the scaffold, George delivered a lengthy speech. Several versions of this speech exist and the following is appended from Chronicles of Calais, taken from Weir, p243.

Christian men, I am born under the law and judged under the law, and die under the law, and the law has condemned me. Masters all, I am not come hither for to preach, but for to die, for I have deserved to die if I had twenty lives, more shamefully than can be devised, for I am a wretched sinner, and I have sinned shamefully. I have known no man so evil, and to rehearse my sins openly, it were no pleasure to you to hear them, nor yet for me to rehearse them, for God knoweth all. Therefore, masters all, I pray you take heed by me, and especially my lords and gentlemen of the court, the which I have been among, take heed by me and beware of such a fall, and I pray to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, that my death may be an example unto you all. And beware, trust not in the vanity of the world, and especially in the flattering of the court. And I cry God mercy, and ask all the world forgiveness of God. And if I have offended any man that is not here now, either in thought, word or deed, and if ye hear any such, I pray you heartily in my behalf, pray them to forgive me for God’s sake. And yet, my masters all, I have one thing for to say to you: men do common and say that I have been a setter forth of the Word of God, and one that have favoured the Gospel of Christ; and because I would not that God’s word should be slandered by me, I say unto you all, that if I had followed God’s word in deed as I did read it and set it forth to my power, I had not come to this. If I had, I had been a liv[ing] man among you. Therefore I pray you, masters all, for God’s sake stick to the truth and follow it, for one good follower is worth three readers, as God knoweth.  

Weir, p243

George Boleyn endured three strokes of the axe before his head was completely severed. He is buried in the Tower Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.

As brave as he might have been on that scaffold, it is difficult to imagine what George would have gone through – a young, successful, happy, proud and arrogant English nobleman reduced a criminal in a matter of days for crimes he did not commit. Much worse were what the other four ordinary men went through watching George being beheaded while awaiting their turn. Their mutilated bodies, striped off their clothes, loaded onto a cart and taken to their graves.

May George Boleyn along with Norris, Weston, Brereton and Smeaton are now rest in peace, far away from the earthly injustice bestowed upon them.

Thoughts…

In less than eight years since Anne Boleyn became Queen of England and Ireland, bringing with it the influence, the success, wealth and the ennoblement that Thomas Boleyn sought and enjoyed, the Boleyn family were virtually destroyed. None of the immediate family exist. The gruesome beheading, the lost of Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn must have broken Elizabeth who died less than two years later. As for Thomas Boleyn, who although returned to court, he too would have been a broken man having lost his entire family except for Mary who was estranged, and herself passed about four years later.

Are there any survivors of the Boleyn family around today?

The Boleyn Family
The Boleyn Family | Coats of Arms

The short answer is, I do not know but there probably are under a different surname, inherited through marriages etc. Below is what I found out, with a look at how it all began with the Boleyns and how they may be around today.

The Boleyns are said to be the direct descendants of Charles the Great (Charles I) who was the King of the Franks in 768 AD and King of the Lombards in 774. He was also King of the Romans in 800.

For the Boleyns, it all began with Sir Geoffrey Boleyn (1406-1453) who was a successful merchant in London. He became the Lord Mayor of London and purchased the Blickling Estate in Norfolk in 1452 and Hever Castle in 1462.

Sir Geoffrey’s son, William Boleyn followed in his father’s footsteps. He was a successful merchant and Lord Mayor of London. Sir William Boleyn (1451-1505) married Lady Margaret Butler and they had three children – Anne, Thomas and James.

Thomas Boleyn, son to Sir William and Lady Margaret, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, 1st Earl of Ormonde married Elizabeth Howard and they had three surviving children, Mary, Anne and George, whose fate, we already know.

George Boleyn married Jane Parker and there are no evidence that they had any children.

Anne Boleyn married King Henry VIII and they had one child, Elizabeth. Elizabeth went on to inherit the throne in 1533 to become Queen Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Ireland. She did not marry and did not have any children. She was queen until her death, in 1603.

Mary Boleyn married twice, and had two children with each of her marriage.

Mary’s first marriage was to William Carey in 1520 and they had two children, Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys and Henry Carey, 1st Baron of Hunsdon. Mary’s second marriage was to William Stafford in 1534 and they had two children, Anne Stafford and Edward Stafford. Unfortunately, both of the Stafford children passed at a very young age. This means, the only surviving children were the Careys.

Catherine Carey, married Sir Francis Knollys in 1540 and they had fourteen children. Henry Carey married Anne Morgan and they had sixteen children.

So, there you have it! It is likely that the Boleyn lineage is still out there through the Careys or some other surnames through marriage. Just so you know, on the anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s death each year, the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula Royal Chapel in the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn was finally laid to rest receives a bouquet of flowers sent anonymously. This tradition has been carried on for a century. Make of it what you will – is it from a Boleyn out there or could it be just a kind soul paying tribute to a queen who was so wronged by the society she lived in.

History of Britain

If you love to know more on the history of Britain, you may also enjoy reading the following:

Stonehenge | A sophisticated architecture

Tower of London | Best guide

Queen Victoria | The Woman behind the Crown

As you may already know, the history of Britain is fascinating, intriguing and there is still so much we would love to know. These historical information adds value to our visits to some of the castles and historic buildings that still stands. As well, there are numerous authors who have written on the many aspects of our history which gives us a number of versions to ponder upon. The dates and some events may lack precise accuracy due to lack of documentary evidence. One such example, as we have seen with Anne Boleyn, where all her portraits and memorabilia were destroyed. It was illegal to own any during the reign of King Henry VIII.

In writing this article on the Boleyn family, as well as all related articles to Anne Boleyn, I have used the resources listed below in my research to ensure the information contained herein is as accurate as it can possibly be.

Articles in the History of Britain which you may like to read also

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BEAUCHAMP TOWER
Forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at queen's house
Bloody Tower at the Tower of London

I sincerely hope that this article has been valuable to you in knowing more on the history of Britain and enhance your visits to Tower of London, Hever Castle, Blickling Estate in Norfolk, Hampton Court Palace and more. Subscribe now, so you are the first to know of the latest on Timeless Travel Steps.

Georgina xx

The Boleyn Family | Coats of Arms
Coats of Arms of the Boleyn Family | Founded 1283 by John Boleyn. Dissolution in 1539 upon death of Thomas Boleyn

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RESOURCES

Bruce, M. L. Anne Boleyn, 1982.

Fraser, A. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, 1992.

Ives, E. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 2004.

Starkey, D. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, 2003.

Warnicke, R. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn, 1989.

Weir, A. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, 2007.

Wilkinson, J. Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress, 2009.Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings by Alison Weir (2011)

The Mistresses of Henry VIII by Kelly Hart (2009)

Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Mistress by Josephine Wilkinson (2010

Wikipedia

annebolyenfiles


The Boleyn family was one of the most respected and prominent family in English aristocracy. Find out what happened to them via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/The Boleyn family was one of the most respected and prominent family in English aristocracy. Find out what happened to them via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/

Anne Boleyn The Most Magnetic and Enduring of Tudor Queens

Anne Boleyn The Most Magnetic and Enduring of Tudor Queens

Some say she was a predator, a sinner while others that she was so sadly wronged and the most courageous queen ever lived. She was the first English monarch to be executed publicly. After five hundred years, the name ‘Anne Boleyn’ and her tragic death still commands attention and further research. She haunts us and we don’t seem to have enough of her! We just do not know what to think of a girl who stole her King’s heart, did not sleep with him for almost seven years and was sent to the block, with no traces of her ever existing. However one thinks of her, I sum her up as Anne Boleyn The Most Magnetic and Enduring of Tudor Queens.

An intriguing figure in British history, and also known as Queen for Thousand Days, Anne Boleyn’s personality and her story draws you in. She did so back then, had done so for five hundred years and continues to do so now. She continues to inspire historians, writers, filmmakers and ordinary citizens. This, by far, makes Anne Boleyn the most magnetic and enduring of Tudor queens.

This is her story.

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Anne Boleyn: Biography

Born: c1501 | Blickling Castle, Norfolk

Died: May 19 1536, Tower Green, Tower of London | Executed

Reigned: June 1533 – May 1536

Coronation: June 1 1533

Parents: Sir Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Duke of Norfolk

Spouse: Henry VIII

Children: Elizabeth I

Succeeded by: Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife

Anne Boleyn | The most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens

Anne Boleyn | The most fascinating of Tudor Queens
Portrait of Anne Boleyn (1507-1536), 2nd wife of King Henry VIII/Unknown Artist, England, 16th century/NGI.549

Anne Boleyn’s Early Days

Blickling Hall, Norfolk as it stands today, built on the ruins of the old Blickling Manor, home of the Boleyns | wikimedia.

Anne Boleyn, the most magnetic and enduring of Tudor queens was born at Blickling Manor, Norfolk, c1501 to Sir Thomas Boleyn (later Earl of Wiltshire) and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. Anne also had a royal connection. Her aunt was the youngest daughter of King Edward IV of England.

Anne’s exact date of birth is unknown because records are lacking in this respect.

Hever Castle, Kent

Anne spent her childhood in her family home, Hever Castle in Kent. She was educated in Netherlands and at the age of twelve, she went to France. She learnt to speak French fluently, acquired a taste for French fashion, poetry and music. Anne returned to England in 1522. Soon afterwards, she established herself as a maid of honour to Catherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII queen consort.

About Anne Boleyn and her courtship with King Henry VIII

Anne Boleyn | r. 1533-1536 | Hever Castle

Anne Boleyn was dark-haired, slim, sophisticated and well educated. She captivated those around her and became one of the most admired ladies of the court. Women at court copied her sartorial style. She attracted much attention from men as well, including Henry VIII and Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland. She dazzled the court with her wit and her French flair. When the King heard of Henry Percy’s desire to marry Anne, he ordered against it. At some point Henry himself fell in love with Anne, who was introduced to him by Anne’s sister, Mary, one of Henry’s mistresses.

Around 1525, Henry VIII wrote love letters to Anne. In one of them, he wrote:

If you…give yourself up, heart, body and soul to me…I will take you for my only mistress, rejecting from thought and affection all others save yourself, to serve only you

King Henry VIII, 1525

Anne, did not want to become a pawn in a game of thrones, and she rejected King Henry’s proposition. However, she carefully explained her rejection, saying that she intends to be married and not be a mistress. She replied:

Your wife I cannot be, both in respect of mine own unworthiness, and also because you have a queen already. Your mistress I will not be.

Anne Boleyn

Henry VIII desperately wanted to be with Anne and he found a way to annul his marriage with Catherine of Aragon.

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon | biography

Catherine was a Spanish princess whom Henry married in June 1509 when he was eighteen years old. Catherine had married his older brother, Arthur in 1501 but he had died the following year. Henry and Catherine were happy in the early years of their marriage. The queen had six children but only one survived infancy, a girl, Mary. Mary was born in February 1516.

Henry blamed Catherine for not having a healthy male heir to the throne. Catherine was also six years older than Henry and the age difference began to show by the mid 1520s. The King wanted to be with a younger person who could bear him a son, heir to the throne.

King Henry VIII set about annulling his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, which he called “a grave matter” one that proved to be difficult and had far reaching consequences.

In his petition for an annulment, Henry relied on an excerpt from the Book of Leviticus:

“If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing…they shall be childless.”

Leviticus 20:21

After many years of debate, the Pope Clement VII refused to annul the marriage. Finally, the marriage was decreed as invalid on May 23 1534 by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. Thereafter, King Henry VIII broke away from Catholicism and Rome to set up Church of England.

While the debate on annulment was going on, Henry and Anne continued to meet discreetly. In early 1533, Anne discovered that she was pregnant. In January 25 1533, they were married in a secret ceremony, without the blessings of the Pope, by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury.

In June 1533, a lavish coronation ceremony was held for Queen Anne. She stayed at her Queen’s lodgings during the days before her coronation. She rode in a golden carriage, and wore a scarlet robe heavy in jewels.

Queen Elizabeth I | Three portrait slant | Royal Museum Greenwich

Anne Boleyn | The most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens as Queen of England

Anne Boleyn | Hever Castle
Anne Boleyn | Hever Castle

In short, the public did not take to Anne due to their allegiance to Catherine of Aragon. The public saw Anne as a status seeker and sexually promiscuous. For her own part, Anne was not a passive element of the royal court. She was well-educated and supported church reform. She helped with the distribution of Bibles, translated to English. She played the traditional role of Queen and was sincere in her efforts to help the poor and social reforms. She was renowned for her stylish wardrobe which followed the French fashion trends of that time. Even so, England never warmed up to their queen and Anne remained disliked until her death. Her strong mindedness did not help her either, as she alienated a lot of powerful men, one being Thomas Cromwell.

As wife to Henry VIII, their marriage was a happy one for the first year or so. Henry pursued other women and was sexually involved with two of her maids-of-honour, Madge Shelton and Jane Seymour. Anne was enraged by her husband’s behaviour and promiscuity. In return, Henry blamed Anne for his adulterous behaviour in not bearing a son as heir to the throne. He did not like to be questioned of his whereabouts which resulted in resentment, eventually leading to the marriage falling apart.

Anne gave birth to a stillborn, a boy in January 1536 which finally led Henry to decide it was time for wife number three! He quickly set about to annulling his marriage with Anne and settled to taking Jane Seymour as his third wife.

Charges, Trial and Execution of Anne Boleyn | The most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens

Charges

The case against the Queen was trumped up by Thomas Cromwell, Chief Minister to the King and who was also one of Anne’s former friend.

Anne was accused of incest with her own brother, George also known as Lord Rochford, four adulterous liaisons, conspiracy to poison her husband and witchcraft. Confessions and implications were extracted under torture from all those named in the tale. All maintained their innocence and denied the charges brought against them except for Mark Smeaton, who confessed under torture.

Despite her innocence, Henry ordered Anne to be confined in her lodgings at the Tower of London on May 2 1536. Ironically, these were the same lodgings Anne stayed in before her coronation ceremony three years earlier.

While in prison, the saddened Queen wrote an impassioned letter to the King, pleading not to allow:

“that unworthy stain of a disloyal heart towards your good Grace ever cast so foul a blot on me, or on the infant Princess, your daughter” 

Jones, 178

Trial

Events moved very quickly and Anne hardly had time to protest. She was tried on May 15 1536. All charges were denied by Anne, as did all her ‘lovers’. Despite her plea and all the unsubstantiated evidence against her, she was found guilty by a court of noblemen and peers, headed by her uncle, Duke of Norfolk. It has been said that her father, Thomas Boleyn watched Anne being sentenced and did nothing to stop it. The Queen was sentenced to execution.

Anne was allowed to respond and voice her thoughts on her sentence and she responded with the following:

I think you know well the reason why you have condemned me to be other than that which led you to this judgement. My only sin against the King has been my jealousy and lack of humility. But I am prepared to die. What I regret most deeply is that men who were innocent and loyal to the king must lose their lives because of me.

Jones, 180

Anne offered to retire to the nunnery if the King would show mercy, but he did not. The only ‘mercy’ Henry showed was for the queen to be beheaded by a sword instead of being burnt on a stake like witches were at that time. Anne was to have a skilled executioner from France who would behead her with a sword instead of an axe.

Her marriage to King Henry VIII was annulled on May 17 1536. Henry declared his daughter, Elizabeth as illegitimate.

Execution

Execution of Anne Boleyn | An artist impression | History

Henry wanted a new scaffold built specifically for Anne’s execution. On May 18 1536, work began on the building of a new scaffold “before the House of Ordnance” which is believed to be between the White Tower and what is now the Waterloo Block, home to the Jewel House.

Anne’s execution was initially scheduled for May 18 but was postponed to the next day, awaiting for the skilled swordsman to arrive.

At 8 o’clock in the morning of May 19 1536, Anne Boleyn, was taken to Tower Green scaffold to be executed by a skilled French swordsman. Anne took care of her appearance. She dressed in a robe of black damask, an ermine trim on her robe to confirm her status, and wore a traditional English gable hood.

When on the scaffold, Anne made a simple speech:

Good Christian people, I have not come here to preach a sermon; I have come here to die. For according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the King and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never, and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me.

Before the blade fell, Anne said the following:

The king has been good to me. He promoted me from a simple maid to a marchioness. Then he raised me to be a queen. Now he will raise me to be a martyr

With a single stroke, the executioner beheaded the queen.

Anne Boleyn | Burial

Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London
Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London | Georgina_Daniel

Anne was not provided a coffin. Her body was wrapped up in white cloth, and placed in an old elm chest fetched by a Yeoman warder from the Tower armoury.

Queen Anne Boleyn was queen for three years and thirty seven days since her coronation and was buried in the chancel, near to her brother, Lord Rochford at the Tower Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula,

All involved in the tale were tortured, tried and found guilty. Anne Boleyn’s brother and her four ‘lovers’, musician Mark Smeaton, Francis Weston, William Brereton, and Henry Norris were all executed for committing adultery with the queen, two days prior to her own.

Henry VIII married Jane Seymour just eleven days after Anne’s execution.

No trace of Anne Boleyn | The most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens

Much has been written about Anne Boleyn, the most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens since her execution but very few indisputable facts remain. Her date of birth and her appearance remains a fascinating subject. Though there are portraits of Anne that exists today, these were commissioned during the reign of Elizabeth I of her mother. These cannot be relied upon as her true image. No one really knows what and how she looked like.

After Anne’s execution, Henry VIII ordered everything that reminded him and the people of England of Anne to be destroyed. They are no mementos or contemporary portraits of Anne when she was alive that exist today. Henry made it illegal for anyone to be in possession of anything ‘Anne’.

A few may have missed the path of destruction and exist here and there.

One such example and the only undisputed image of Anne Boleyn is on a 38mm lead disc in storage at the British Museum. The disc is known as “The Moost Happi Medal” which was created in 1534 as a prototype when Anne was pregnant, in anticipation of a male heir to the throne. However, the commission was abandoned when her pregnancy was unsuccessful.

Anne Boleyn | The most fascinating of Tudor Queens
“The Moost Happi Medal” of Anne Boleyn at the British Museum

As well, there are very little documentary traces of Anne Boleyn existing. What is known of her is mainly accounts of others which are mostly marred by prejudices.

Only a few letters written in her own handwriting were found. A letter written to her father in 1514 and one written to Wolsey, along with letters written to her husband, King Henry VIII while she was in prison.

In her day, Anne Boleyn was known as a ‘witch’, an evil scheming woman, a woman, whose name not to be spoken of.

Anne Boleyn – The Forgotten Queen Resurfaced | The most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens

Queen Elizabeth I | r. 1558-1603 | royal.uk

This forgotten queen resurfaced when her daughter, Elizabeth, inherited the throne from Mary I in November 1558, to become Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Ireland. Questions were asked then, about the validity of the lurid charges of adultery, and about Anne’s support for Protestantism which has become the State’s religion.

The twentieth and twenty-first century saw historians giving voice to Anne’s independence of mind, her interest in sex and a young woman whose desire was to do as well as she could. Her assertiveness was admirable, seen as modern and non threatening. Described as “brutal and effective politician” by historian, David Starkey, “intelligent” by Alison Weir and “clever, articulate, principled and highly educated” by Hilary Mantel, Anne certainly had numerous qualities admired today. She keeps us drawn to her fascinating story.

There has been so much written about Anne Boleyn and her relatively short life as Queen of England but it is hard to know exactly what she was like.

The other side to Anne Boleyn | The most fascinating of Tudor Queens

Apparently, there is a ‘other side’ to Anne Boleyn. She is said to be vindictive, bad tempered, and failed to conform to the expectations that of a Queen.

Anne persuaded Henry to summon the arrest of Cardinal Wolsey, her nemesis. As well, not only did she manage to unseat Catherine, Queen of Aragon but she bullied Mary, Catherine’s daughter mercilessly, to the extent that Lady Mary became convinced that Anne was trying to poison her. Lady Mary never saw her mother again.

Anne’s headstrong personality and quick temper won her few friends. She did not make alliances to encircle her, instead she quarrelled and distanced herself from almost every important person at court. Anne alienated her uncle, the powerful Duke of Norfolk. She also threatened the Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell.

By the time Cromwell retaliated and persuaded King Henry to commit Anne to trial, she was surrounded by enemies who were very happy to see her go.

Seeing all the support failing around her, Anne did not reinvent herself to bring long term success. She stood her ground and to her principles, which some historians say may have led to her own condemnation.

The theories behind the Execution | Why Anne Boleyn, the most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens was executed

Modern historians believe that Anne Boleyn did not have any affairs which led her to be executed by King Henry VIII. She may have been a notorious flirt but it did not go beyond that. There is absolutely no reliable proof that Anne was unfaithful to her husband, King Henry VIII.

It appears that Anne was an innocent victim framed by her husband, King Henry VIII who wanted to move on with his life with his mistress, Jane Seymour with whom he hoped to have a male heir, or Thomas Cromwell, the Kings loyal servant who felt Anne stood in his way of his plans for the monasteries.

Henry painted a picture of his wife being a reckless cheat and that he was a wronged husband so that Anne’s image, reputation and legacy was forever tarnished in his kingdom. However, historian Tracy Borman argues that research shows Henry VIII was a villain. His cold and calculated manner, to oversee every detail of Anne’s execution, giving precise orders to the Constable of the Tower of London exposed his real personality.

Cromwell wanted an alliance with the Holy Roman Empire but Anne disagreed with his plans. Her pro French stance on diplomacy was also a problem for Cromwell.

Whatever the theories are and which of these one may wish to believe, the underlying question appears to be:

Was she wrong in failing to produce a male heir and refusing to rein in her headstrong personality?

The fascination with the life and death of Anne Boleyn lives on, it is enduring. I cannot for a moment imagine what she would have gone through psychologically and emotionally while in prison awaiting her execution. Her glittering life, her fall from grace, her tragic end. She may have vanished from history for a while as the discarded wife of a heartless king but her enduring glamour lives on. What touches many, I am sure, is the grace with which she faced her tragic end. Her careful dressing to meet the end of her life, and her collected little speech on the scaffold speaks no less of her dignity, eloquence and bravery. She has the power to draw us in, to fascinate and captivate us.

Much is still not known…

Their marriage ensued a political and religious upheaval which led to the English Reformation, changing the course of British history, and Anne’s execution for adultery and treason made her a popular figure since. Yet, there is much that is not known of her, as a person, as a queen and as a mother. Photos and records of her are scarce. All of her portraits were cautiously created during the reign of her daughter, Elizabeth I.

Perhaps, out of all of Henry VIII six wives, Anne Boleyn is the most fascinating, intriguing and famous queen associated with the Tudor King – one that continues to have a magnetic pull by drawing us to her story, her life as she continues to be an enduring queen.

The following poem is attributed to Anne Boleyn, one that she wrote in the days before her execution. I shall leave her words to speak to you:

O Death, O Death, rock me asleepe,
Bring me to quiet rest;
Let pass my weary guiltless ghost
Out of my careful breast.
Toll on, thou passing bell;

Ring out my doleful knell;
Thy sound my death abroad will tell,
For I must die,
There is no remedy.

My pains, my pains, who can express?
Alas, they are so strong!
My dolours will not suffer strength
My life for to prolong.
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Thy sound my death abroad will tell,
For I must die,
There is no remedy.

Alone, alone in prison strong
I wail my destiny:
Woe worth this cruel hap that I
Must taste this misery!
Toll on, thou passing bell;
Ring out my doleful knell;
Thy sound my death abroad will tell,
For I must die,
There is no remedy.

Farewell, farewell, my pleasures past!
Welcome, my present pain!
I feel my torment so increase
That life cannot remain.
Cease now, thou passing bell,
Ring out my doleful knoll,
For thou my death dost tell:
Lord, pity thou my soul!
Death doth draw nigh,
Sound dolefully:
For now I die,
I die, I die.

Anne Boleyn


How to learn more about Anne Boleyn the most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens

If you are as fascinated as I am regarding Anne Boleyn and the Tudors, there are plenty of resources for you to explore. I recommend the following:

Watch the following on Amazon Instant Video | Click on the images to Buy

The Other Boleyn Girl

Anne of the Thousand Days

Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn

Watch ‘The Tudors’ tv series on Amazon Prime. Click here

Alternatively, you may wish to purchase the following books:

Anne Boleyn: 500 years of Lies

The Anne Boleyn Papers

Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attraction


More stories related to the History of Britain

New on Timeless Travel Steps

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Resources used in this research

Jones, Nigel. Tower. Griffin, 2013.

Phillips, Charles. The Complete Illustrated Guide to the Kings & Queens of Britain. Lorenz Books, 2006.

Turvey, Roger. The Early Tudors. Hodder Education, 2020.

Cannon, John. The Kings and Queens of Britain. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Ives, Eric; The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
National Portrait Gallery of Ireland

annboleynfiles

Even after 500 years the name Anne Boleyn commands attention and research making her the most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens. Read her story | Anne Boleyn | History of Britain | Tudor Queen | Tower of London | via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/Even after 500 years the name Anne Boleyn commands attention and research making her the most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens. Read her story | Anne Boleyn | History of Britain | Tudor Queen | Tower of London | via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/

Forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at Queen’s House in the Tower

Forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at Queen’s House in the Tower

Disclaimer: This Post and all related posts may contain affiliate links including Amazon LLC. This means that I earn a commission, from qualifying purchases at no cost to you, if you click on a link and make a purchase. Access full disclaimer here or get in touch with me via Contact form if you have any questions about any of the companies. You could also take a look at our Trusted Partners

The Prisoners of Queen’s House – An outline

The Queen’s House at the Tower of London was home to highly notable prisoners, and some of noble birth. Out of seven prisoners that were executed at the Tower Green, there were three queens. Lady Jane Grey, who was queen for just nine days, Anne Boleyn, the second wife to Henry VIII and Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Along with the queens, there were four others, who were executed on the orders of the monarch during the bloody Tudor rule. Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochester (sister-in-law to Anne), Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, Robert Deveraux, Earl of Essex and William Lord Hastings in 1483.

Other prisoners who were not executed at Tower Green but were prisoners at the Queen’s House were Lady Arbella Stuart, first cousin to King James I and Guy Fawkes. one of the conspirators who wanted to blow up Parliament. Guy Fawkes underwent many hours of interrogation at the Queen’s House.

Of all the prisoners, the forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at Queen’s House in the Tower, namely Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Arbella Stuart are worth knowing. Here is an introduction to their very short lives beyond the walls of the famous fortress.

About the Queen’s House at the Tower

The Queens House | Tower of London
The Queens House | Tower of London | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

The original Queen’s House was built in 1530s during the reign of Henry VIII. It is believed that King Henry VIII probably built it for his second queen, Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn is said to have resided there before her coronation in 1533. Ironically, she also stayed there before her execution in 1536. Her lodgings are said to have become uninhabitable and Henry VIII ordered it to be torn down. The Queen’s House that we see today was built in the 1540s, about four years after Anne Boleyn’s execution.

The architecture of the Queen’s House is completely different to the rest of the Tower buildings that are made of bricks and stones. The Queen’s House is a remarkable Tudor style, half-timbered house. It is said to be one of the oldest of Tudor houses remaining in Britain. The Queen’s House is presently home to the Resident Governor of the Tower of London and guarded by the Royal Guard.


Georgina says: The beauty of this old architecture is admirable. I don’t find architecture of such delight anymore, with such care and skill and “heart” to details. I am glad that this “old” is preserved not as a museum but as living “breathing” and an on-going place.


Forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at Queen’s House in the Tower

Anne Boleyn, Queen of England

Anne Boleyn | Forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at Queen's House in the Tower
© National Portrait Gallery, London

There are many books written on Anne Boleyn, yet she is one of the forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at Queen’s House. Anne was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536. She was the second wife of King Henry VIII. They were married for three years and three months. They had a daughter, Elizabeth. Anne could not give Henry a son, an heir to his throne.

Often known as ‘Anne of the Thousand Days’, Anne was falsely accused of adultery, witchcraft and conspiracy against the King. She was imprisoned in the Queen’s House until her execution. Anne was executed at Tower Green, on May 19 1536. She is buried at the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.

Anne has left no voice of her own, so no-one really knows how she felt and why she became queen.

A memorial for Anne Boleyn

At present, there is a plaque dedicated to Anne Boleyn and a permanent memorial dedicated to all those who were executed at the Tower Green. This memorial was erected in September 2006, designed by British artist, Brian Catling. Erected close to the execution spot, the memorial gives visitors to the Tower a focal point for contemplation, remembrance and reflection. Many visitors leave flowers on the anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s execution.

More on the Tower Green Memorial, below.

Anne Boleyn’s Daughter, Elizabeth

The Armada Portrait is displayed in the Queen's House.
Queen Elizabeth I | The Armada Portrait is displayed in the Queen’s House.

Anne Boleyn’s daughter, Elizabeth, inherited the throne in November 1558 and became Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Ireland from November 17 1558 until her death on March 24, 1603. She was famously known as ‘the Virgin Queen’, ‘Gloriana’ or simply as ‘Good Queen Bess’. As Elizabeth never married and left no heir, she was the last of the five monarchs in the House of Tudors. She was succeeded by James VI of Scotland, and became James I of England.

It is hard to find even the simplest statements of Anne Boleyn during her life as Queen. Anne was literally wiped out of history books at least for the remainder of Henry VIII’s reign. The portraits of Anne that exist now were created by her daughter, Elizabeth I during her reign. Unbiased descriptions of Anne were written after her death, though this is a rare find.

Stay tuned for more on Anne Boleyn and the Boleyn family


The ghost of Anne Boleyn is regarded as one of the most famous in Britain and has reportedly been seen many times at the Tower of London especially around Tower Green where she was executed. Anne is also regarded as “The most well travelled ghost in Britain” because she is regularly seen around Salle Church, Blickling Hall, Marwell Hall and Hever Castle – “often seen the way she was in life: happy, young and beautiful.” Read more on Anne Boleyn’s ghost sightings by the Haunted Rooms here


Lady Jane Grey | ‘9 day Queen’

Forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at Queen's House in the Tower | Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey | royal.uk

Lady Jane Grey was fifth in line to the throne but was proclaimed Queen on the death of King Edward VI, to retain England under a Protestant rule.

Lady Jane Grey on her Procession to the Tower

Lady Jane Grey - on her Coronation
Lady Jane Grey (1536-54) after a painting by Herbert Norris, © Lebrecht Music & Arts/Alamy Stock Photo

Jane was wearing a green velvet dress embroidered in gold, with a long train carried by her mother.

Her headdress was white, heavily decorated with jewels, and on her neck a chinclout (a type of scarf) ‘of black velvet, striped with small chains of gold, garnished with small pearls, small rubies and small diamonds … furred with sables and having thereat a chain of gold enamelled green, garnished with certain pearls.’

However, King Edward’s half-sister, Mary, who was a Catholic, daughter to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, second in line to the throne, was proclaimed Queen, at just nine days of Lady Jane Grey becoming Queen. Lady Jane Grey was found to be guilty of high treason, imprisoned at the Queen’s House in 1553. She was just seventeen years old when she was executed at the Tower Green, on February 12 1554.

Learn more about Lady Jane Grey – future article

Lady Arbella Stuart

Forgotten stories of 3 royal prisoners at Queen's House in the Tower | Arbella Stuart
Portrait of Lady Arbella Stuart | 1589 | The British Library

Lady Arbella Stuart is virtually unheard of in English history, but yet she may have changed the course of history and the lines of succession of the monarchy had she inherited the throne from Queen Elizabeth I instead of James I.

Arbella Stuart was English, the first cousin of James I and grand daughter of formidable Bess of Hardwick. She married William Seymour, grandson of Lady Catherine Grey. who himself had a claim to the throne, secretly and without seeking permission of James I. As a result, Seymour was sent to the Tower and Arbella on house arrest. In June 1611, the couple plotted to escape but Arbella was caught and brought back to the Tower, while Seymour made it to France.

Arbella was confined to the Queen’s House. Her health deteriorated during the course of 1612 and 1613. In her later days, Arbella refused food and drink. She died September 25, 1615 at the young age of thirty-nine. She never saw her husband again.

James I refused a royal funeral and Arbella was placed without a ceremony in the vault of her aunt, Mary, Queen of Scots, in Westminster Abbey.

Born of royal blood, Arbella had a better claim to the throne than her cousin, James VI of Scotland (James I of England) because she was born in England – it is this, that some historians say may have changed English history all together had she inherited the throne.

Learn more about Arbella Stuart and of her childhood in Hardwick Hall – stay tuned for a future article

Tower Green Memorial

The Tower Green Memorial is a permanent memorial dedicated to all those who were executed on Tower Green.

Memorial at Tower Green
A permanent memorial is dedicated to all those executed on Tower Green | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

The Tower Green memorial designed by Brian Catling features two engraved circular glass. The glass circles lists the names of all those who were executed at Tower Green. There is a sculpted glass pillow in the centre as a focal point. On the polished black stone base is the following poem, curated by the artist himself:

Gentle visitor pause a while,

Where you stand death cut away the light of many days;

Here, jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life,

May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage,

Under these restless skies.”

Brian Catling

Brian Catling explained his reasons for a circular design:

I wanted to make people walk around the piece, “Before, people would come and stand in front of the small plaque that used to be here – they just stood and didn’t know what to do so I thought: ‘let’s give them something to do’, they now have to walk around it to read the poem – they have to engage with it.”

“None of the names on here are really traitors,” added Brian. “Monuments are usually to people who have died in a war or a battle, this is different. You can’t really illustrate the brutal acts of dying that took place here but this I hope is a way of suggesting it.”

B Catling

The memorial focuses on ten executions that took place on Tower Green, within the walls of the fortress. In addition to the seven names already mentioned earlier, there were three Black Watch soldiers from the 1743 Highland regiment. The three soldiers were Farquar Shaw, with brothers, Samuel and Malcolm Macpherson. They were shot by a firing squad made up of their own comrades on July 19 1943. A large slab of black marble is set into the floor in the southwest corner of the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, marking the spot where the three bodies lie. Their names are inscribed beside those of queens and nobles.

In 1743 the Highland regiment were en route to Scotland for leave when the King summoned them to London. About one hundred soldiers went absent from duty. They were rounded up and taken to the Tower on charges of mutiny.

The other ninety-seven soldiers were pardoned eventually and released afterwards.

Final thoughts…

Exploring the stories of those who died behind the walls of the fortress especially the three royal prisoners at Queen’s House in the Tower of London is significant as these are stories that characterised the nation and its identity. This is where the royal prisoners met their last moments and it is a powerful thing.

So, when you visit the Tower, be sure to explore at your own pace and learn the stories that makes this iconic palace a unique destination. To get you started on your journey of discovery of the Tower, I share my passion of history and it gives me great pleasure to share the following articles on the Tower of London with you.

Beauchamp Tower

Ways to experience the Tower of London

Practical information to consider when visiting the Tower of London

Getting to Tower of London:

Tower of London, London, EC3N 4AB

Nearest Station:

Tower Hill Underground Station

Opening hours:

Tuesday-Saturday: 09:00-17:30
Sunday-Monday: 10:00-17:30

Yeoman Warders Tours: FREE | 45 Minutes

Tickets & Prices:

Buying online is cheaper and convenient. Entry to Tower of London includes entry to the Crown Jewels Exhibition, the White Tower and the Beauchamp Tower.

£25.00

Places to Stay in London when visiting the Tower of London

Choices on accommodations in London are literally unlimited! From budget hostels, two or three star hotels to high-end hotels and apartments, it seems endless….

I have personally experienced the superb hospitality and quality and would highly recommend a stay at the Millennium Hotels and Resorts in London. Millennium Hotels are centrally located and within easy access of London’s transport network.

Browse Millennium Hotels & Resorts in London and book yourself a fabulous experience.

You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain for accommodations ranging from upper upscale, mid-market, millennial lifestyle, hotels with a unique personality and story, as well as if you are travelling on business.

Browse Radisson Hotels in London and book yourself a beautiful and memorable stay.

As well, you could run through booking dot com, a site I use and frequent for my searches on accommodations when I travel.

Browse a wide range of accommodations offered by Booking dot com to suit all budgets in the City of London

Activities to do in London when visiting the Tower

As with accommodations, the activities available to do in London are endless. A city that never sleeps, with transportation that works twenty-four hours a day, there is something you could do at any given time. Navigate to Discover London with Georgina and MyCityMyTown series for ideas and inspirations. If you are planning a visit during the festive season, Christmas in London has articles that will inspire you to move London to the top of your list!

A popular destination within a stone’s throw of London is the historic town of Greenwich, renowned for when Time began. View the full article and related articles on Greenwich which includes Cutty Sark, Queen’s House, National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory and Planetarium. As well as recommended activities you could do when visiting this destination.

A visit to London is never complete without a trip to the countryside or wider UK. A day trip from London is highly recommended as it adds value to your experiences of England and not just limited to London. Popular day trips are a visit to Windsor, home to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, an experience that will blow you away, or go on a little adventure to the Isle of Wight. If you are not restricted in time and wish to explore more of UK, then a visit to Scotland is highly recommended. There are many highlights in this amazing land of the fairies that will leave you speechless and an experience of the Highlands will stay with you forever.

The UK boasts a good train network connecting London to the rest of the United Kingdom directly or indirectly via network exchanges. Experience UK like you have never before by train travel, by visiting the best scenic destinations by train while saving on your journeys. Read all about train travelling and unique experiences here.

What to expect in the coming weeks on easy Sunday read:

Anne Boleyn and the Boleyn family

Lady Jane Grey

Beyond the Walls of the Tower by the Historic Royal Palaces

Britain’s most well travelled ghost

Ghosts of Blickling Hall

Hever Castle

Recommended read to delve deeper

My sincere wish is that reading this article has inspired you to visit the Tower of London and to know more of historic Britain. Ensure you are subscribed for future articles so you are first to receive the latest on timelesstravelsteps.

Georgina xx

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Forgotten prisoners of the Queen's House in Tower of London
Forgotten stories of the royal prisoners at the Tower of London
Forgotten stories of the royal prisoners at the Tower of London

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Guy Fawkes and 5th of November

Guy Fawkes and 5th of November

Guy Fawkes and 5th of November is a popular story in the history of England. Known also as Guido Fawkes, he was born and educated in York, England. His father died when he was eight years old and his mother married a devout Catholic.

As an adult, he was a British soldier but during the increased oppression of Catholics in England, Guy joined a group of provincial Catholics in England to protest against the Crown.

Guy Fawkes
Image by artist Sue Kerr, Courtesy of St Peter’s Foundation, reproduced by kind permission – Taken from: https://www.hrp.org.uk/

Guy was one of thirteen conspirators who wanted to blow-up Parliament in 1605. He was found hiding in the cellars of the Parliament surrounded by 36 barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes was imprisoned and tortured in the Queen’s House at the Tower of London.

Fawkes and the other plotters suffered a grisly traitor’s death: they were hanged, drawn and quartered, with their body parts then displayed throughout London as a warning to others.

Guy Fawkes and 5th of November

Guy Fawkes and 5th of November
Bonfire Night, a popular event in England

The conspiracy to blow-up Parliament became famously known as the Gunpowder Plot. The very night the plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night.

To commemorate the failure of Guy Fawkes, Bonfire Night in the UK is celebrated with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire. As it is celebrated outdoors, there are soups, sausages, baked potatoes and the traditional Parkin cake available. Parkin Cake, is a sticky cake containing a mix of oatmeal, ginger, treacle and syrup.

Guy Fawkes (April 13 1570 – January 31 1606)

Learn more on the Tower of London and the stories behind the walls of the fortress.

If you are considering travel, here are some practical information for you to consider:

Travel resources at a Glance

Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.

Flights – I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares or Etihad Airways for long haul flights. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays.

Accommodations – My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine are Millennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget.

Unique experiences & tours – My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals.

Travel insurance – Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.

Travel essentials – Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.

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GUY FAWKES AND 5TH NOVEMBER

For the Wanderlust in You

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Have a great time exploring London

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Beauchamp Tower London

Beauchamp Tower London

Beauchamp Tower is easily missed as visitors seem focused on the White Tower and the Jewel Tower. Moreover, if you are limited to time, you may give Beauchamp a miss but I suggest that Beauchamp is worth a visit and deserving of a place on your list.

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I discovered Beauchamp Tower on my visit as I retraced my footsteps in London. I have been to Tower of London many times before but had never visited this tower. I learnt so much of historic England from my visit here which I share with you here.

Read about the Tower of London – the Best Guide before your next visit.

Beauchamp Tower London

Beauchamp Tower sits next to the dark timbered Queen’s House overlooking the Tower Chapel and the Tower Green | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

Beauchamp, pronounced as “beecham” is one of the twenty-one towers at the Tower of London and forms part of the inner defensive wall of Tower of London. It was built between 1275 and 1281 towards the end of the first leg of modernisation of the Tower, under the reign of King Edward I.

The tower’s close proximity to the Lieutenant’s lodgings (now, the Queen’s House) made Beauchamp Tower a significant and a perfect place throughout history to accommodate high-ranking important prisoners.

There are other towers within the walls of the Tower of London which also became home to very important high status prisoners. Read about the prisoners of the Bloody Tower at the Tower of London here and the Jewel Tower, home to the Magnificent Crown Jewels.

Prisoners of the Beauchamp Tower London

Amongst the important prisoners at Beauchamp were John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and his four sons. One of the sons was Guildford Dudley, the husband to Lady Jane Grey. Here’s a brief look at the Dudleys and Lady Jane Grey.

About the Dudleys

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland was imprisoned at the Beauchamp Tower along with his four sons because he wanted his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey to be Queen of England.

John Dudley and his sons were condemned as traitors in 1553. He was executed for treason at Tower Hill on August 22, 1553. Guilford Dudley, husband to Lady Jane was executed in February 1554. Following his execution, the three brothers were pardoned and released.

About Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey - on her Coronation
Lady Jane Grey on the day of her procession to be Queen of England. Lady Jane Grey (1536-54) after a painting by Herbert Norris, © Lebrecht Music & Arts/Alamy Stock Photo
Archives: Historic Royal Palaces

Lady Jane inherited the throne from Edward VI and was Queen of England for just nine days. She was deposed by Catholic Mary I, on July 19, 1553 and was imprisoned in the Queen’s House.

On the morning of 12 February, 1554, from her window, Lady Jane watched her young husband, Guildford Dudley, leave Beauchamp Tower for his execution at Tower Hill, and his headless body return for burial at the Tower Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.

Later, on the very same day, Lady Jane was executed at Tower Green. She was seventeen years old.

About Guildford Dudley

Guildford Dudley, born in 1535 was an English nobleman who married Lady Jane Grey in an elaborate celebration about six weeks before the death of King Edward VI. Guildford and Jane spent their brief rule together at the Tower of London until they were condemned to death for high treason, thereafter in separate quarters.

On the morning of their execution, Guildford requested to see Lady Jane one last time. Jane refused, saying:

“would only … increase their misery and pain, it was better to put it off … as they would meet shortly elsewhere, and live bound by indissoluble ties.” 

Guildford Dudley was executed at Tower Hill on the morning of February 12, 1554.

The Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London is next to the right of the Queen's House. The Dudley's were imprisoned here
The Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London is next to the right of the Queen’s House. The Dudley’s were imprisoned here. © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

Other prisoners at Beauchamp Tower London

Other notable prisoner at Beauchamp Tower was Lady Jane Rochford, lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII. Lady Rochford’s confession was instrumental in the tragic death of Catherine Howard. Her interrogation drove her insane and she was executed on the same day as Queen Catherine on February 13, 1542.

As the tower was used throughout English history as a prison, there were other prisoners as well such as William Tyrrel and Thomas Peverel. Most recently, it accommodated several German spies during the World Wars.

You may wish to know more about the German spies and you can access information here. The last person to be executed at the Tower was Josef Jakobs, also a German spy at the end of WWII.

Graffiti in the Beauchamp Tower

What makes Beauchamp Tower London famous these days is the discovery of graffiti beneath the many layers of history on its walls. These graffiti on the wall were left by prisoners.

The inscriptions were made during the 16th and 17th century when the religious and political turmoil was at a height and the prison was home to many high-ranking and important prisoners such as the Dudleys, William Tyrrel and Thomas Peverel. Some of these inscriptions are bold reflecting painstaking carving while others are thin and somewhat spidery. They are a few that seem to cluster in specific locations of the Tower.

Inscription of William Tyrrel in 1541 in Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London
William Tyrrel (1541) In Italian “Since fate has chosen that my hope should go with the wind I now want to cry for the time that is lost and I will be sad and unhappy forever”
Graffiti left by prisoners in the Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London
Cluster of Graffiti: 29 – Thomas Myagh: Tortured because of his association with Irish rebels. 29a – Unknown 31 – Thomas Peverel (1571)
Graffiti in Beauchamp Tower
62 – Attributed to Thomas Peverel

All images © timelesstravelsteps | by Georgina_Daniel

Graffiti on the walls of Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London
Graffiti on the walls of Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

These sombre inscriptions represents thoughts of the prisoners and a powerful need to leave some form of record of their existence. A record, so they are not lost forever. It is an assertion of their beliefs and identity but above all, a strong will of defiance not to be cowed by political and religious tyranny. Some prisoners were held in gloomy cells, while others could move freely within the Tower grounds. Their treatment and fate depended on their social status and their crime.

*Lady Jane Grey was given access to the garden in December 1553.


Timeless Travel Steps says: When I visited, there were a number of people here so I could not take a closer look at the graffiti. I am intrigued by these inscriptions and am motivated to discover more on this part of history at the Tower of London.


There is a permanent exhibition at the Beauchamp Tower.
There is a permanent exhibition at the Beauchamp Tower | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel
Spiral stairs leading to the permanent exhibition of the prison in Beauchamp Tower.
Lots of stairs! Spiral stairs leading to the permanent exhibition of the prison in Beauchamp Tower | © timelesstravelsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

One thing to bear in mind when visiting here is the narrow entrance and the narrow spiral stairway – there is only one of these, so visitors going up as well as those exiting the exhibition use it. If you are at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for the moment to get up – don’t! Don’t wait because you shall be waiting for a long time (like I did!) and others behind you will get ahead of you regardless of your politeness!


Entry to the permanent exhibition in the Beauchamp Tower is included in the entry ticket to the Tower of London. It is reasonably priced at £25.00 and is valid for one day – take a look here.


Learn more about Beauchamp Tower from this book: In Inscriptions and Devices, in the Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London

UK Readers

Published by the British Library, the book contains a short historical sketch of the building, and the prisoners formerly confined therein: collected from State papers, records, and other authentic sources: by W. R. Dick.


I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and have found it valuable towards planning your visit to Beauchamp Tower. Do share your thoughts in comments below.

The Tower of London is vast and offers a thousand years of history within its walls. If you are in a rush, you may not experience all of what Tower of London has to offer. It is highly recommended that you spend at least four to five hours (subject to the time of day and the season you choose to visit) when you visit. Have a break in between and enjoy the hospitality at the cafe.

Learn more about the Tower of London by taking these virtual tours > Inside the Tower of London by the Tower of London | Historic Royal Palaces.

You may also enjoy reading other articles on London and here are a few that you may like:


Plan a trip to London – here are some ideas for you

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