Lady Arbella Stuart The Forgotten Uncrowned Queen of England

Lady Arbella Stuart The Forgotten Uncrowned Queen of England

About four centuries ago, a princess lay dying within the walls of London Fortress, yearning for her freedom to be with her husband, reflecting on her life that would have been, if only… Lady Arbella Stuart was an English, born of royal blood who had a better right to be the Queen of England than her Scottish cousin, James VI, succeeding Queen Elizabeth I. Sadly, she became one of the royal prisoners at the Tower of London and over time, forgotten.

The following is what we know of the little known uncrowned queen, Lady Arbella Stuart who would have changed the course of history.

Lady Arbella Stuart
Oil painting on oak panel, Lady Arabella Stuart, Duchess of Somerset (1575 ? 1615), aged 13 1/2, British (English) School, inscribed in cartouche: ARBELLA ? STVARTA ? / COMITISSA ? LEVINI? ? / ?TATIS ? SV? ? 13 ? ET ? 1/2 ? / ANNO ? DNI ? 1589 ? And inscribed between bottom of tablecloth and stretcher of table: CVM, the remaining portion of a word like TECUM (‘with you’) rather than initials of Carel van Mander to whom this portrait was once attributed. A full-length portrait, standing, turned slightly to the left in an apartment, wearing a white dress with spotted puffed sleeves and white brocade, studded with dark jewels, and embroidered cuffs of a darker colour. Her light brown hair, frizzed in front, is allowed to fall, maiden-fashion, on her shoulders and around her neck is a pearl necklace and other ornaments with a fan hanging from her left.
Her right hand is resting on a table covered in a green fringed cloth and a dog is lying in the left foreground and a red draped curtain is on the right. In 1859 a commentator in the Athenaeum wrote: “The pale blue eyes and melancholy features have a decided Stuart character. The face closely resembles that of her father in the Hampton Court picture.” | National Portrait Gallery
Lady Arbella Stuart

Who was Lady Arbella Stuart and her right to the throne?

Lady Arbella Stuart was born in 1575 and was the possible successor to Queen Elizabeth I.

She was the only daughter to Elizabeth Cavendish (only daughter to Bess of Hardwick) and Charles Stuart, 1st Earl of Lennox.

Charles Stuart was the younger son to Matthew Stuart and Lady Margaret Douglas, daughter and heiress of Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus and of Margaret Tudor, eldest daughter of King Henry VII.

Therefore, Arbella was the great-great-granddaughter of King Henry VII and was in line of succession to the throne.

Charles’ older sibling was Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley who became the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots and father to James VI of Scotland.

So, in a nutshell, born into the Stuart family, Arbella was niece of Mary Queen of Scots , cousin to James VI of Scotland, and a distant cousin to Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Lady Arbella Stuart’s early years

Lady Arbella Stuart as a child
Lady Arabella Stuart, later Duchess of Somerset, aged 23 months, 1577 / Hardwick Hall NT 1129175 | Hardwick Hall © National Trust

Lady Arbella had many misfortunes in her life from the time she was an infant. Arbella’s father, Charles Stuart died in 1576 when she was barely two years old. Upon the death of her father, Arbella was meant to inherit the title “Countess of Lennox” along with all the Lennox lands in Scotland but she was denied her inheritance. The Scottish government seized the lands on the premise that as King James was still a minor he could not grant the title. Moreover, their reasoning also centred on the fact that Arbella was English by birth and therefore her claim on the title was invalid. 

This unjust reasoning and decision drew the attention of the monarch and Queen Elizabeth herself wrote to the Scottish regency government asking for Arbella to be given her inheritance but nothing came of it. Over the years, Lady Arbella referred to her lost lands on many occassions but she was never formally granted the title of Countess of Lennox. 

In addition, Arbella was due inheritance from her paternal grandmother, Lady Lennox – jewels set with a diamond, a ruby and an emerald with a great pearl.  However, more misfortune was set her way. The entrusted guardian of Lady Lennox who should have handed the jewels over to Arbella failed to do so. Instead, the steward fled to Scotland where the jewels ended up with King James himself!

After the passing of her father, Arbella was raised by her mother, Elizabeth Cavendish, Countess of Lennox. Unfortunately, her mother passed away as well in 1582, leaving Arbella an orphan at the very young age of just seven. She became the ward of her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Hardwick, better known as the formidable “Bess of Hardwick” and went to live in Hardwick Hall.

Lady Arbella Stuart at Hardwick Hall

Within the protection of Hardwick Hall, Arbella received education fit for a princess. Proving herself as an able pupil, Arbella learnt philosophy, became an accomplished musician, and was fluent in Latin, Greek, French, Italian and Spanish. She visited London and the royal court periodically in the summers of 1587 and 1588. There was one visit that lasted from November 1591 to July 1592.

She impressed Queen Elizabeth on her first visit and the Queen was noted as saying the twelve-year old Arbella may one day be Queen of England. However, with the execution of Arbella’s aunt, Mary, Queen of Scots and the possibility of the Spanish Armada, Arbella returned to the relative safety and protective isolation of Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire.

Bess of Hardwick | Hardwick Hall | Lady Arbella Stuart
Bess of Hardwick | National Trust Images/John Hammond

The ensuing years were frustrating ones for Arbella. As her grandmother spent her time designing and building Hardwick fit for a queen, Arbella felt increasingly isolated. Often talked of as being a suitable bride but she never came close to marriage, thereby prompting her to plot her own marriage. Stories of Arbella and her affairs circulated widely, so much so that in winter 1602-1603 the Queen herself sent her trusted courtier, Sir Henry Brounker to Hardwick to investigate the matter. Bess pleaded with the Queen to let Arbella leave but Elizabeth disagreed. The Queen ordered Arbella to remain at Hardwick and never to marry.

Lady Arbella Stuart – the uncrowned queen

Lady Arbella Stuart
Lady Arbella Stuart

The years preceding 1592, Arbella was considered the natural successor to the throne upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I. She was, after-all born in England and a direct descendant of Henry VII. She was fourth-in-line to the throne and had a better claim to be the crowned queen of the English throne than her cousin, James VI of Scotland. However, this was not to be.

From the end of 1592 and sometime spring of 1593, attention was diverted towards James VI of Scotland as being the preferred heir to the throne. The most influential people, namely the Queen’s Lord Treasurer, Lord Burghley and his son, Secretary of State, Sir Robert Cecil played a key role in this respect.

Soon thereafter, Queen Elizabeth I died. Lady Arbella’s cousin, James VI of Scotland became King James I of England, unifying Scotland, England and Ireland under one monarch, officially known as the Union of the Crowns on March 24 1603.

In May, Arbella was invited to the royal court in London to meet her cousin for the first time.

In November of 1603, there was a Main Plot, conspired by English courtiers and funded by the Spanish government to overthrow King James I and to replace him with Lady Arbella Stuart. The conspirators invited Arbella to participate and obtained her consent in writing to Philip III of Spain. However, Arbella reported the matter to King James I immediately.

Arbella was well received at the royal court of King James I. Arbella became state governess to Princess Elizabeth, eldest daughter of James I and later in 1605, godmother to Princess Mary.

Lady Arbella Stuart and her marriage

Arbella never suppressed her desire to marry. In 1610, she married William Seymour, known as Lord Beauchamp, later Duke of Somerset from the prominent Seymour family, who themselves had a claim to the throne.

William Seymour was sixth-in-line to the throne. He was the grandson of Lady Katherine Grey, granddaughter of Mary Tudor, the younger sister of Henry VIII.

James I had wondered whether the marriage between Arbella and William was a prelude to an attempt to overthrow him as King.

Arbella and William married in secret, on June 22, 1610 at Greenwich Palace, without the permission of the King.

Royal Warrant of Arrest

Arrest warrant of Arbella and William Seymour
Free media Wikimedia Commons

Within days, the secret was out and for marrying without the King’s permission, a royal warrant was issued for the arrest of Arbella, Lady Beauchamp and Lord Beauchamp.

William was arrested and brought to the Tower of London and Arbella placed on house-arrest in Sir Thomas Perry’s house in Lambeth. The couple had some liberty within the buildings and Arbella corresponded with William through letters. When James I learned of the letters, he immediately ordered for Arbella to be transferred to Durham, to the custody of Bishop of Durham far away from her husband, William Lord Beauchamp in the Tower. Arbella claimed to be pregnant (but she was not), so her departure was delayed.

Arbella and William’s plot to escape

The delay in Arbella’s departure to Durham gave the couple time to plot their escape. They agreed to meet at Lee, Kent to sail to France.

 Early in June, dressed as a man, Arbella slipped out of her lodgings and made it to Lee, but William Lord Beauchamp did not meet her there. She boarded the getaway ship to France without her husband.

William did escape from the Tower and made it to Lee but Arbella had already set sail. He caught the next ship to Flanders.

The alarm had now been raised, and the King gave orders to search for and capture Arbella and William. Arbella’s ship was overtaken by the King’s men just before reaching Calais, France. They boarded the ship, arrested Arbella and brought her back to London. She was imprisoned in the Tower. Arbella never saw her husband again.

Lady Arbella Stuart | Lady Beauchamp final days

Arbella only sought freedom to live with her husband but she was kept in closed confinement in the Tower. She was never charged with a crime.

During 1612 and 1613, Arbella’s health deteriorated but she hoped to gain sympathy from her cousin, James I. She wanted to attend the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and went as far as ordering an elaborate dress and matching jewels for the wedding but she was not invited.

It appears that by 1614, Arbella had given up all hope of freedom and by autumn of the same year, she took ill and refused all medical attention. Her health deteriorated, and she died on September 25, 1615 at the young age of 39 in the Tower of London.

Lady Arbella Stuart – her funeral

Lady Arbella Stuart was refused a royal funeral and denied a ceremony by her cousin, King James I. She was placed in the vault of her aunt, Mary Queen of Scots in Westminster Abbey.

A visit to Westminster Abbey, you will find the vault beneath the south aisle of Henry VII’s chapel.  In the 19th century a small grey stone was put in between the tombs of Mary Queen of Scots and Arbella’s grandmother Margaret, Countess of Lennox, recording burials in the vault. This gives her name and year of burial only. She has no other memorial.

Conclusion

…as she lay, yearning for her freedom, reflecting on her life that would have been, if only…

Born of royal blood and in England, with a better claim to the throne than her cousin James VI, Arbella fell foul of the very same cousin whom she helped protect from the conspiracies of the Main Plot and the Spanish government when he became King of England. She ended her days despairing in the Tower of London.

One wonders…if only she had succeeded Elizabeth I and became Queen of England, the course of history might be so very different – would the Union of the Crowns had taken place? The lines of succession of monarchs would also have been different.

The story of Lady Arbella Stuart is a sad one – another royal caught up in the politics and conspiracies of the day, but one deserving to be remembered, not Forgotten as she was the Uncrowned Queen of England.


Over one hundred letters written by Lady Arbella Stuart were found and some of these were published in 1993.

Resources:

National Trust UK

Sarah Gristwood, Arbella: England’s Lost Queen, Bantam 2003

David N. Durant, Arbella Stuart: A Rival to the Queen, 1978

P.M Handover, Arbella Stuart: Royal Lady of Hardwick, 1957


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7 best ways to visit the Tower of London

Best Ways to Visit the Tower of London

Whilst we work hard to provide accurate and the best information possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out.

From medieval fortress, to unbelievable grim executions, infamous royal prisoners and home to the most famous and priceless of British treasures, the Tower of London has been the centre of London’s compelling history. Built by William the Conqueror, the historic castle has been the keeper of long-standing traditions and royal secrets. A visit to this iconic landmark and you will experience the remarkable architecture, the towers, and the defensive walls that makes this structure a formidable castle and the most secure one in the land.

Learn more about the secrets of the castle and the traditions at the Tower that continues to be observed till today by selecting one of the best ways to visit the Tower of London suggested below.

Grey turrets and a flag pole dominates the skyline at the Tower of London.
Grey turrets and a flag pole dominates the skyline at the Tower of London | Image: georgina_daniel

The Tower of London is conveniently located along River Thames with easy access to public transportation, with Tower Hill being within minutes of walking distance. As always, Timeless Travel Steps brings you only the best in information and offers to add value to your experiences in London when you visit. This page is dedicated to best ways to visit the Tower of London, bringing you carefully selected value for money experiences designed to enhance your visit. Further suggestions on activities to experience wider London is included also.

How best to visit the Tower of London

Ways to experience the Tower of London

As you may know, there are a number of ways to visit the Tower of London. From a standard stand-alone entrance ticket to the Tower to combined tickets together with other attractions in the city of London. Some combinations offer great value for money and it’s worth knowing which is best. At the same time, you may have to consider the length of your stay as well. For longer stays, it might be worth buying one of the city passes with discounted entrance to some attractions. However long you select to visit London or how many of London-sights you wish to visit, below is a guide to help you make the best of your visit.

7 best ways to visit the Tower of London

Good to know about your admission ticket to the Tower:

Your admission ticket to the Tower of London gives you access to all of the below:

>> Yeoman Warders at various points inside the Tower who tell captivating stories of the history and traditions of the Tower;

>> Special exhibitions and live re-enactments of historic moments;

>> The Crown Jewels;

>> The White Tower;

>> Battlements, Medieval Palace, Bloody Tower, Torture at the Tower exhibition, Fusiliers Museum and Royal Mint exhibition.

Here are the 7 best ways to visit the Tower of London.

1 | Standard Tickets to the Tower of London

Standard tickets are intended for single use, one time entry to the Tower of London. These are available for children, adults and seniors. You can purchase these either at the ticket offices at the Tower or online prior to visiting.

Ticket typeWith donation (£)No donation (£)
Adult (18-64)32.9029.90
Child (5-15)16.4014.90
Concession (age 65+|16-17|full-time student |disabled visitor)26.40 24.00
Family saver 1 (1 adult + 3 children – 5 to15yrs)57.5052.20
Family Saver 2 (2 adults + up to 3 children – 5 to 15 yrs90.4082.10
Prices are correct at time of writing April 2021 | Info from https://www.hrp.org.uk/

2 | Historic Royal Palaces Membership

One of the best ways to visit the Tower of London is with a Historic Royal Palaces annual membership. With an annual membership, you will enjoy free and unlimited visits to the historic palaces and gardens and this includes the Tower of London. An annual membership of a single adult is £59.00, Joint is £89.00, and family tickets includes up to six children are also available.

NB: Prices are correct as at time of writing April 2021

3 | The London Pass

best ways to visit Tower of London

The London Pass is an all encompassing digital ticket that gives you access to 80+ top attractions, museums and tours in the city of London. The purchase also includes a beautifully curated comprehensive 160 page digital guidebook, with information of attractions, money saving tips, and maps, making this option one of the best ways to visit the Tower of London because Admission to Tower of London is FREE with the London Pass.

Good to know about the London Pass

>> Touch-free digital London Pass available instantly;

>> The London Pass is a complete sightseer credits package giving you access to top 80+ attractions, tours and museums;

>> Includes an informative FREE digital guidebook with maps, tips and valuable offers on shopping, dining and West End theatre tickets;

>> Skip-the-line access to selected top attractions in London such as St Paul’s Cathedral and London Zoo in Regent’s Park.

>> One day hop-on hop-off bus tour, covering three routes with over sixty stops including stops at Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and St Paul’s Cathedral.

>> Extra flexibility in case your travel plans change at the last minute – Valid for two years from time of purchase and before activation of first attraction visit.

Read > What you need to know and the benefits of London Pass

Buy London Pass from your preferred tour provider.

4 | London Explorer Pass

best ways to visit the Tower of London

The London Explorer Pass offers yet another best ways to visit the Tower of London. The London Explorer Pass is a money saver on combined admission prices to top attractions in London. You select from two, three, four, five or seven attractions. You choose where you would like to redeem your attraction credits from a list of top London attractions which includes Tower of London.

Select Tower of London as one of your preferred money saver combined attraction for FREE admission.

Good to know about the London Explorer Pass

>> Save up to 39% on combined admission of regular door prices to over 50 attractions, monuments, river cruises and tours;

>> Create your own itinerary from a selection of attraction – 2,3,4,5,or 7 attractions and pay for what you select. In its simplest form, best to think of it as 1 attraction = 1 credit;

>> Skip the line access at selected attractions;

>> Select top attractions such as Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral, Thames River Cruises and one day hop-on hop-off bus tours;

>> Instant download digital London Explorer Pass;

>> Explore at ease – show your touch-free digital ticket at the gates and walk right-in;

>> Enjoy the flexibility – London Explorer Pass is valid for 60 days from the time of first activation giving you plenty of time to schedule your visits;

Read > What you need to know about the London Explorer Pass and the benefits of the Explorer Pass

Buy London Explorer Pass from your preferred tour supplier:

5 | Join a Small Group Guided Walking tour

Join a small group of visitors led by a London expert guide who will take you to the most popular sites in London depending on the type of tours you select. Get the real London experience from a local, and afterwards explore at your own pace.

Good to know about Small Group Guided Tours

>> Benefit from a knowledgeable guide who knows the city and its history well enough to give you an informative and fun tour. More often than not, they make history come alive with entertaining, gripping tales, and generally, about life in London.

>> Guided tours are generally good value for money as you get to see more within a few hours.

>> Meet new people and makes new friends!

There are several small group guided tours available as these are some of the best ways to visit the Tower of London but below are 3 that are curated to maximise your experience at the Tower of London.

1 | Meet the Beefeater! Skip-the- line to one of the oldest monuments in London and meet the Yeoman Warders. They are more popularly known as Beefeaters, a group of elite guardsmen who were historically responsible for the prisoners of the Tower and for protecting the Crown Jewels.

2 | Early Access Tour of the Tower

Skip-the-line and view the iconic landmark + Crown Jewels as soon as the Tower opens and afterwards, visit the Tower Bridge and the engine room. Tour lasts approx. 3 hours.

3 | Tower of London + Thames River Walk

In a group of no more than 30, visit the Tower + Crown Jewels + Armouries and, afterwards enjoy the walk along River Thames, with a stop at Borough Market, London’s oldest food market.

6 | Private Tours of the Tower of London

Get a personalised experience from a knowledgeable guide who will share all the gruesome details and the stories of the Tower which you will thoroughly enjoy as one of the best ways to visit the Tower of London. Walk the wall of the iconic formidable castle in the land and take-in the picturesque views of the marvellous city.

Peruse the following carefully selected three private tours as one of the best ways to visit the Tower of London.

7 | Tower of London + City highlights tour

Experience the best of London by combining spectacular sights of London and a visit to the Tower – explore the city by bus and on foot.


Other experiences alongside visiting Tower of London

When visiting the Tower of London and London, you may want to add one of the following destinations to your itinerary:

St Paul’s Cathedral, London

Visit one of London’s leading attraction, an architectural masterpiece and a historical monument in the very heart of London. Select one or more ways to explore this landmark and save money along the way.

St Paul's Cathedral
5 rewarding ways to experience st paul's

Greenwich, London

Visit the quintessentially English town of Greenwich, where Time began and spend the day exploring the 45 experiences that this town has to offer every visitor.

Greenwich in one day

Venture a little further and go on a day trip…

London has so much to offer visitors and there’s much more to be experienced by venturing out a little from the City – the following two destinations are highly recommended. Read more on Windsor, the royal palace and on Stonehenge, a sophisticated architecture by navigating via the images below. A complete guide on how to get to the respective destinations are also included:

Windsor + Windsor Castle in one day
Stonehenge - A sophisticated architecture

If you plan to visit any one, both or other destinations outside London city, you may want to consider taking the train to your destination. London has an extensive rail network and you are never too far away from a train station. Learn more about UK’s train network from this complete guide on Trainline in Britain. You could also enjoy a train ride onboard a royal steam train for timeless memories. Check your journey and its cost from the following Trainline graphic.

On a final note…

London is an amazing, a culturally rich City where history abounds and the Tower of London is pretty much the beginning of it all. While the Tower is one of the most visited landmark in London, the City offers much more to its visitors than the normal touristic destinations. From secret gardens to gardens in the sky, from royal palaces to walkie-talkie buildings, from street names to colourful tunnels, along with huge foodie experiences that will totally transform you, London is a city that must be explored.

Sincerely wish that this post has been valuable to you in planning your visit to the Tower of London and London. If so, do share your thoughts in comments below. Please also use the links embedded in this article and all related articles to book your visits. A commission is earned from qualifying purchases at no cost to you and this supports in maintaining Timeless Travel Steps. As always, your support is much appreciated.

Have a super awesome time exploring Tower of London and London.

Georgina xx

Quick facts about the Tower of London:

map with pin on london | ultimate guide to Tower of London
51.5081° N, 0.0759° W

Location: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB | London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Area: 16 acres

White Tower: Height: 27 metres (89ft);

Built: 1078

Expansion: Inner Ward: 1190s, rebuilt 1285;

Protected: UNESCO;

Importance: Cultural;

Guard: Yeoman Warders;

Managed: Historic Royal Palaces (charity)

Nearest Underground station: Tower Hill

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Lady Jane Grey The Forgotten Queen

Lady Jane Grey The Forgotten Queen

Lady Jane Grey was an English noblewoman, who became queen of England for a very short time in history – 9 days to be precise. Though proclaimed a queen, she has hardly been referred to as one! Shrouded in conspiracies, political and religious conflicts, her path to greatness was short-lived. The story of Lady Jane Grey the forgotten queen is compelling. Her life, brief reign and tragic end remains one deserving of revisit. She was one of the three queens imprisoned at the Queen’s House in Tower of London.

This article is an introduction to the young, beautiful and intelligent Lady Jane Grey’s life and there are some resources embedded in this post, should you wish to delve deeper to learn more.

Lady Jane Grey

About Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey The forgotten queen
Lady Jane Grey by Unknown artist, c1590-1600, © National Portrait Gallery, London | Historic Royal Palaces

Lady Jane Grey was the first daughter to Henry Grey, 3rd Marquess of Dorset (later 1st Duke of Suffolk) and Lady Frances Brandon. She was the great grand-daughter of Henry VII, through her mother who was herself the older daughter to the younger of Henry VIII two sisters, Mary. Hence, her direct link to King Henry VIII. She was the first cousin, once removed of Edward VI.

She was also known as Lady Jane Dudley following her marriage to Lord Guildford Dudley, the younger son of Lord Dudley, Duke of Northumberland who was the chief minister to Edward VI.

Lady Jane Grey – Her early years

The general view is, Jane Grey was born in October 1537 at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire. Her family were high status and were frequent at the royal court. Jane was the eldest of three siblings. Her second sibling was Lady Katherine and her youngest was Lady Mary.

Lady Jane received excellent but strict education. She could speak and write in Greek and Latin from an early age. She learnt French, Italian and Hebrew and spoke these languages in a highly skilled manner. Through the influences of her father and her tutors, Lady Jane Grey became a committed and devout Protestant.

Jane did not like sports or hunting parties very much, an activity typical of the era for young girls of her status. Instead, she preferred book studies, in particular, the works of Plato. She had seemingly said to have responded to a question by her tutor, as to why she is not outdoors with the others with the following:

I wist all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato. Alas, good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant.

Lady Jane Grey | Historic Royal Palaces

Jane also regarded her upbringing as harsh. She is said to have complained to her tutor, Roger Ascham, an English Scholar and Writer, of what is expected of her.

“For when I am in the presence either of father or mother, whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anything else, I must do it as it were in such weight, measure and number, even so perfectly as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes with pinches, nips and bobs and other ways (which I will not name for the honour I bear them) … that I think myself in hell”

Lady Jane Grey | Ives, Eric 2009

Around February 1547, when Lady Jane Grey was barely ten years old, she was sent to live in the household of Queen Catherine Parr, the final queen consort to Henry VIII and Thomas Seymour, Uncle to Edward VI at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire. It was customary in the Tudor era for children to be brought up in other households of higher status where they learn the etiquette and be in a suitable position for a patron to make good marriage. Jane attended to Catherine until Catherine’s death in September 1548.

After Catherine’s death, Lady Jane Grey was made ward of Thomas Seymour, who soon afterwards curated a plan to marry Jane to his nephew, Edward VI who was also Jane’s cousin. His plan did not go much further as Thomas Seymour was beheaded for treason in 1549. Thereafter, Lady Jane Grey returned to her childhood home at Bradgate.

Lady Jane Grey at Bradgate

When Lady Jane Grey returned to Bradgate, she resumed her studies. A couple of years later, her father was created the Duke of Suffolk resulting in a beautiful and talented girl frequenting the royal court.

Lady Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley – “a wife who loves her husband”

Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley
Portraits of Lady Jane and Lord Guildford Dudley by Richard Burchett, © Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA 1008. | hrp.org.uk

Jane caught the attention of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, the most powerful man in the land at that time, advisor to Edward VI. He did not want to lose his favoured position. He curated a master plan, with the agreement of Jane’s father for his son, Guildford Dudley to marry Jane. His intention was to make his son and Jane, the King and Queen of England upon the death of Edward VI, whose health was already failing. Jane was just sixteen and Guildford, eighteen.

The couple were married on May 25 1553 at Durham House in a triple ceremony – alongside her sister, Catherine Grey and her sister-in-law, Catherine Dudley.

Not much is known of Guildford and Jane’s relationship but Jane is noted as saying that she is “a wife who loves her husband”

Lady Jane Grey and Edward VI

Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey
Image: Edward VI attributed to William Scrots, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, RCIN 405751 | hrp.org.uk

Edward VI inherited the throne at the very young age of nine following the passing of his father, Henry VIII. With just five years on the throne since, he contracted fever and cough in January 1553 (later suspected to be tubercolosis). He fell terribly ill and at times appear to recover only to succumb to his illness again. He realised that his health was volatile and he may not survive much longer. He wanted so much for his heir to be a male Protestant but this was not possible. The next in line to the throne in accordance to Henry VIII’s Will were Edward’s half-sisters, Mary who was Catholic and Elizabeth, along with Lady Jane Grey whose Protestant faith was strong.

Edward set about writing his instrument for succession – “Device for Succession”

Edward VI – ‘Device for Succession’

To ensure his successor would be a male Protestant, Edward VI devised a Will, taking inspiration form his own father’s Will, Henry VIII. He disinherited his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) in favour of male heirs of his cousin, Lady Frances Grey or her children, Jane, Catherine and Mary.

When by June 1553, it became clear that Edward VI was terminally ill and none of his cousins had produced a male heir, he altered his instrument of succession in favour of Lady Jane Grey solely.

In this instrument of succession, Edward VI set out that although Lady Jane Grey would reign as queen, her successor would be a male heir. If Lady Jane were to die without male heirs to the throne, then the crown would pass to one of the sons of her sisters. This instrument was signed by the Privy Council, bishops, peers and at least ten of the country’s senior advocates of the time.

One can’t help but think that this is all part of a grand masterplan by John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland who was also the Lord Protector to Edward VI. Afterall, he did marry-off his son with young Lady Jane.

A little background to Third Succession Act 1544

The Third Succession Act 1544 restored Henry VIII’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession.

During the reign of Henry VIII, both Mary and Elizabeth were declared illegitimate by statute after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn were declared void. The Act also empowered Henry VIII to alter the succession by his Will. Henry VIII reaffirmed the succession of his three children but altered the succession to include the heirs of his younger sister, Mary should his children leave no descendants. No one knows why but he did not include Jane’s mother, Lady Frances Grey in the succession.

How did Lady Jane Grey become Queen of England

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

King Edward VI died on July 6 1553. However, his death was not announced till four days later, on July 10. Lady Jane was told she was now queen on July 9.

On July 10 1553, Lady Jane was officially proclaimed to be Queen of England, France and Ireland. She took up secure residence in the Tower of London as was customary of English monarchs to reside from the time of accession until the time of coronation.

Lady Jane Grey – from accession to execution

Meanwhile, with the death of the King now public, Mary, daughter to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon devised her own plan to garner support of the public. She was much popular amongst the people of England, especially Catholics and those who believed in her claim to the throne as Henry VIII’s daughter. On the other hand, Lady Jane Grey was unheard of. Seeing her popularity, the Privy Council switched allegiance and proclaimed Mary, the Queen on July 19th 1553.

On July 19th, Lady Jane Grey became a prisoners within the walls of the fortress, after taking residence in preparation for her coronation, and her husband, Guildford Dudley became prisoner at Beauchamp Tower in the Tower of London.

Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Guildford Dudley was tried for high treason in November 1553 and were found guilty. Guildford Dudley was executed on February 12 1554 at Tower Hill.

Later the same day, February 12, 1554, Jane was granted a private execution within the Tower of London grounds – at Tower Green. Dressed in black, Jane remained calm, making her way to the scaffold. These were her final words:

‘Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same; the fact indeed against the Queen’s Highness was unlawful and the consenting thereunto by me…I do wash my hands thereof in innocency before the face of God and the face of you good Christian people this day.’

Anonymous (1997) [1850]. “1554, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley”. In Nichols, John Gough (ed.) The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two years of Queen Mary, the Camden Society; Marilee Hanson
Lady Jane Grey Prayer Book
Lady Jane Grey’s prayer book with her handwritten inscription to Sir John Bridges, Lieutenant of the Tower, © British Library Board, Harley 2342, ff.74v-75

Lady Jane then read Psalm 51, in her prayer book, gave her gloves and handkerchief to one of her ladies, her prayer book to the Lieutenant of the Tower, her gown, headdress and collar to her ladies. She asked her executioner to ‘dispatch of her’ quickly and she tied a blindfold around her eyes. She scrambled blindly for the block, panic overtook her, and she cried, ‘What shall I do? Where is it?’

Lady Jane Grey at the scaffold
The Execution of Lady Jane Grey (detail), by Paul Delaroche, © National Gallery London 2017

Someone helped her find her way, and she laid her head on the block and said her last words, ‘Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit’. The axe fell.

Jane was just 17 years old. Queen for 9 days.

Jane and her husband, Guildford are buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, on the northside of Tower Green in Tower of London.

Lady Jane Grey – her legacy

Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey, steel engraving by William Holl, 1868, © Florilegius /Alamy Stock Photo | hrp.org.uk

Following her death and the unsuccessful reign of Queen Mary I, Lady Jane became to be known as a Protestant Martyr, and as an innocent victim in the nineteenth century. Her story grew to legendary proportions in popular culture, producing romantic biographies, novels, plays, operas, paintings, and films.

In the Beauchamp Tower, to the right of the fireplace, there is a coat of arms, deeply cut into the wall, representing the Dudley family, possibly carved by Guildford or his brother, Robert when they were prisoners at the Tower. Across the fireplace, there is another graffiti that says ‘IANE’ which stands for ‘JANE’.

On a final note…

The story of Lady Jane Grey is both fascinating and a tragic one. A very young girl caught up in the political and religious conflict of her time but so little is known of her, that it is a challenging task to describe her completely. Nevertheless, her story is one worth revisiting – she was the Queen of England, France and Ireland for nine days, the shortest reigning monarch in English history.

Resources:

Ives, Eric (2009) Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery. Wiley-Blackwell.

Tallis, Nicola (2017) Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey. Oakhill Publishing

Cook, Faith (2004) Nine-Day Queen of England: Lady Jane Grey.

Evangelical Press

Other resources: Historic Royal Palaces

Lady Jane Grey at a Glance:

Alternative title: Lady Jane Dudley

Born: October 1537, Bradgate, Leicestershire

Parents: Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk | Lady Frances Brandon

Married: Lord Guildford Dudley

Reign: July 10 1553 – July 19 1553

Inherited from: Edward VI

Succeeded by: Mary I

Religion: Protestant

Childhood home: Bradgate

Died: February 12, 1554 (between 16-17 years old).

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What goes on in the Tower of London

What goes on in the Tower of London

Tower of London is a fascinating landmark in the heart of the city that attracts millions of visitors a year but we are living in uncertain times these days. As means to keep you informed with inspiring stories of the iconic Tower, “What goes on in the Tower of London” brings together a set of TV series by the Historic Royal Palaces for you to view at your leisure – hear the stories on what goes on in the Tower from the very people who live, manage and are the heartbeat of the traditions at this magnificent Tower of London.

Quick facts about the Tower of London:

map with pin on london | ultimate guide to Tower of London
51.5081° N, 0.0759° W

Location: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB | London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Area: 16 acres

White Tower: Height: 27 metres (89ft);

Built: 1078

Expansion: Inner Ward: 1190s, rebuilt 1285;

Protected: UNESCO;

Importance: Cultural;

Guard: Yeoman Warders;

Managed: Historic Royal Palaces (charity)

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Hever Castle Kent England

Learn more on What goes on in the Tower of London from these TV series by Historic Royal Palaces : Available to view until June 18 2025

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TOWER OF LONDON

Tower of London as it stands today.
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With the easing of lockdown measures and the gorgeous Spring weather our way – it’s time to get out and about with our family and friends (provided it is safe and precautions adhered to) to enjoy the best of England’s heritage and countryside.

There is no better time than the present to take advantage of the exclusive offer and become a valued member at one of Britain’s best charitable trust, safeguarding England’s finest heritage.

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Read > A Complete guide to English Heritage Membership benefits and see how much you would save.

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Unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle Isle of Wight

Unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has a distinct variety of rich landscapes, recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ensuring that one of England’s finest and most fascinating of landscapes is preserved and enhanced. While the secretive coastlines, white chalky cliffs, quiet estuaries and gentle rolling woodland had attracted visitors since Victorian times, and continues to do so all year round, this enchanting island is home to some wealth of times gone by and the most fascinating and truly magical history.

Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
Side view of Carisbrooke Castle

Nestled in the village of Carisbrooke, Newport, sitting proudly atop a hill at the heart of Isle of Wight is Carisbrooke Castle, steeped in history and legend since pre-Roman times. Today, this remarkable castle is managed by English Heritage, and opened to the public. With lots of things to see and do whilst enjoying in the fresh open air, Carisbrooke Castle is a destination for history buffs, couples, family days out as well as for photography enthusiasts. To ensure nothing goes amiss, here is a guide for the unmissable 9 fun things to do in Carisbrooke Castle when visiting this heritage landmark.

Unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle Newport Isle of Wight Victorian love affair experience
Carisbrooke Castle

History tells us that Carisbrooke was once, the strongest castle on the Isle of Wight, and boasts defences from several eras. A central place of power and defence for over a thousand years, it was a Saxon fortress, a Norman castle, an artillery fortress during the Elizabethan era, later a prison for Charles I, then home to Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter. This historic motte-and-bailey castle is quintessentially romantic and will delight its visitors.

1 | Visit the Carisbrooke Castle 16th century guardhouse

Learn more of the tumultuous history of this fascinating and stunning castle. Watch the film and virtual tour presented in the 16th century guardhouse.

2 | Visit the Carisbrooke Castle Museum

carisbrooke castle museum | things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
Carisbrooke Castle Museum Lower Gallery | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle | Image: courtesy of Carisbrooke Castle Museum

Visit the Carisbrooke Castle Museum which is located in the castle’s Great Hall, St Peter’s Chapel and Constable’s Lodgings. It is the only public museum in UK founded by a member of the Royal family.

Princess Beatrice established the museum in 1898 as a memorial to her husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg with the “earnest hope and desire” and with the “help and co-operation of others” to “form a full collection of objects of historical interest connected with the Island

Her aspiration is reflected in the extensive collection displayed and safeguarded by an independent Charitable Trust. The museum holds many important items that span the history of Isle of Wight since Roman times to the present. On your visit, you will note exhibits such as cross bow bolts from Tudor and medieval history, a small collection of personal items belonging to King Charles I and over 5000 paintings and prints reflecting the island’s topography and its people. There are exhibits of the Isle of Wight Rifles, reflecting the Island’s strong military connection during the wars. There are lots more on display such as the social history collection and the toy collection which are interesting also.

3 | Explore the Castle’s history

Delve deeper into the history of this well-preserved castle and experience how this stronghold had survived eight hundred years, resisting the French siege and the Spanish Armada. See where Charles I was imprisoned for fourteen months before his execution in 1649, and the room where he sought to escape from, he was found wedged in the bars of the window – the guards caught him!

4 | The Chapel of St Nicholas in Castro

St Nicholas Chapel | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
The Chapel of St Nicholas in Castro | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight

St Nicholas Chapel is fairly recent, built in 1904 and located just next to the main gate. However, a long sequence of chapels dedicated to St Nicholas had been at the castle since medieval times.

The current chapel was built as a 250th anniversary memorial to Charles I and was redecorated in 1929. The altar painting was commissioned by Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria youngest daughter, in memory of her youngest son who died at Ypres. The chapel is now the island’s main war memorial.

Take a moment and experience the beauty, serenity and the warmth of St Nicholas Chapel.

5 | Meet Carisbrooke Donkeys at the Well House

Don’t miss the Well House – meet the lovable resident donkeys at Carisbrooke Castle who have been drawing up water for the castle for hundreds of years! Their daily routine is to work the sixteenth century tread wheel to raise water from the bottom of the castle well at 49 metres (161 metres).

6 | Ancient Castle Keep and Wall Walk

Steps up to the Castle Keep | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
Very steep steps leading to the Castle Keep | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

Climb the very steep steps of the castle mound to the ancient castle keep which was constructed during the Norman times in 1100, when the island belonged to the Redvers family.

stunning views from the wall-walk.carisbrooke.castle | things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
stunning views from the wall-walk | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

Once up, you are rewarded with amazing views of the island and as far as your eyes can see. Follow the wall and the battlements – walk right around the castle, taking in the views from all directions.

7 | Edwardian Garden | Princess Beatrice Garden

Princess Beatrice Garden | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
Layout of Princess Beatrice Garden | Things to do at Carisbrooke Castle

Enjoy and be wooed by the beautiful and inspiring Edwardian garden which was created to reflect the original garden retreat of Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s daughter who later, was the Governor of Isle of Wight. The seasonal planting, water features and orchard are indeed charming. According to the English Heritage site, the plants were chosen:

“to echo Princess Beatrice’s blue, red and gold heraldic crest, and the layout reflects architectural detail on the adjoining Chapel of St Nicholas”

The layout of the garden takes inspiration from Princess Beatrice’s original private walled garden and when viewed from the wall-walk, you could see the framework of the borders reflect the chapel windows.

beatrice.garden.english.heritage (2)
Princess Beatrice Garden | Image courtesy English Heritage

Outside of winter, spring brings forth the snowdrops, primrose and daffodils followed by cowslips and bluebells and the beautiful blossoms of the Judus tree plus so much more. Summer sees a riot of colours and exotic mix of cottage garden favourites while fall is the season to discover the unusual Mespelus germanica, fruits from which have been enjoyed since Roman times.

8 | Family fun

If you are visiting with kids, there are activities for children to participate where they can dress up as Norman warriors or as princesses.

English Heritage also run special events for school holidays and one of their most popular ones are the Easter Adventure Quest.

9 | Delightful Castle Tearoom

After exploring the castle and the grounds, treat yourself to a delicious light meal or snacks in the Castle’s Tearoom, located above the former carriage room. This delightful castle tearoom serves a selection of locally produced hot and cold food, including sandwiches, cakes, hot and cold beverages.

Practical information

Plan your visit

Visits must be pre-booked. Once you have decided when to visit, book your arrival time slot. Take along your booking confirmation on the day – note that the time shown is the earliest you can arrive.

Last admission is thirty minutes before the site closes, but really you will need at least half a day for a full immersive experience.

Admission

Admission price + Donation:

Adult > £9.38 | Concession > £8.48 | Child > £5.63 | Family > £24.38

*Family ticket is valid for 2 adults and up to 3 children

Carisbrooke Castle is managed by English Heritage, therefore English Heritage Members enjoy unlimited access to Carisbrooke Castle throughout their membership. The Membership is great value and you can take a look at the benefits it offers for one small contribution > English Heritage Membership benefits or you can become a Member now, using the link below.

Address: Castle Hill, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1XY

Travel to the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is just a few miles on the south coast of England and is easily reached by ferries and catamaran.

Wightlink Ferries depart from Portsmouth to Fishbourne and takes around 45 minutes. There is another from Lymington to Yarmouth which is around 40 minutes journey. Both ferry journeys accommodate cars, motor homes, bikes and foot passengers. Wightlink also runs a high-speed Catamaran for foot passengers from Portsmouth to Ryde pier and this journey takes approximately 22 minutes.

Red Funnel departs from Southampton and travels to East Cowes and takes about 60 minutes. The ferry takes cars, motor homes, bikes and foot passengers. Red Funnel runs the Red Jet service for foot passengers from Southampton into Cowes and this journey takes around 25 minutes.

Getting around the Isle of Wight

The public transport in Isle of Wight is managed by Southern Vectis and is acknowledged as the best rural bus services in the country.

The train service is Island Line and is managed by South Western Railway. The service connects Ryde, Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin. This is a convenient service to be picked up by foot passengers from Ryde pier.

Travelling to Southampton | Portsmouth | Lymington by train

Plan your journey ahead of time and take advantage of cheap tickets for your travel.

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Places to stay near Carisbrooke Castle | Newport

67c The Mews | The Old Dairy, Gatcombe

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Where to eat

Fine Dining: Gem42 | Italian: Marenghi’s | British Bar, Pub: The Golden Lion

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On a final note

Carisbrooke Castle was one of our highlights when my family and I visited the Isle of Wight for 5 days. It was a great summer getaway and we cherish our many memories of the island. Sincerely hope you will get to experience Isle of Wight and Carisbrooke Castle if you haven’t already.

Georgina xx

FACTS ABOUT CARISBROOKE CASTLE, ISLE OF WIGHT:

50.6873° N, 1.3135° W

Owned: English Heritage

Access: Open to the public

Address: Castle Hill, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1XY

Nearest town: Newport

History about Carisbrooke Castle:

A ruined wall suggests that there was a building here late Roman times but this has not been proved. The cousin of King Cynric of Wessex who died in 544 AD may have been buried here. The site may have been used as a pagan Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the sixth century – three graves were discovered here. It was a stronghold for the Anglo-Saxon during 8th century.

Later a defence wall was built around the hill to protect against the Vikings in 1000 AD.

From 1100 onwards, the castle was owned by the Redvers’ family and was sold to Edward I in 1293 by the last Redvers’ resident, Countess Isabella de Fortibus.

During the reign of Elizabeth I (Nov 1558 – 1603) the Castle was improved with stone walls, towers, keep and additional fortifications when the Spanish Armada was expected.

In 1649, Carisbrooke Castle became a prison for Charles I, and afterwards, his two children were confined to the castle as well, where his daughter Princess Elizabeth died.

From 1896 through to 1944, Carisbrooke Castle became a summer residence to Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria, who also succeeded her husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg and became the Governor of the Isle of Wight.

References:

CJ Young, Excavations at Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight, 1921–1996, Wessex Archaeology Report 18 (Salisbury, 2000), 52–3, 86–97.

PG Stone, The Architectural Antiquities of the Isle of Wight, part II: The West Medine (London, 1891), 74–5

AD Saunders, ‘Hampshire coastal defences since the introduction of artillery’, Archaeological Journal, 123 (1967), 136–71.

JD Jones, The Royal Prisoner (London, 1965)

Visitors: 131,358 in 2019

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Visit the quintessential romantic fortress and experience the unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle in the enchanting Isle of Wight | Victoria's Island | Visit Carisbrooke Castle | Fun things to do in Isle of Wight | Things to do in Isle of Wight | Visit Isle of Wight | Visit England | Britain's largest island | Visit Britain | England's Gem | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Visit the quintessential romantic fortress and experience the unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle in the enchanting Isle of Wight | Victoria's Island | Visit Carisbrooke Castle | Fun things to do in Isle of Wight | Things to do in Isle of Wight | Visit Isle of Wight | Visit England | Britain's largest island | Visit Britain | England's Gem | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Anne Boleyn Britain’s Most Well Travelled Ghost

Anne Boleyn | Britain’s Most Well Travelled Ghost

Anne Boleyn Britain’s most well travelled ghost was strong willed, intelligent and charming Tudor Queen who stole the King’s heart, successfully kept him waiting for seven years until he divorced his queen and reformed the church. She tragically lost her life in 1536. Those who read her story cannot but fall in love with her courage and the eloquence with which she conducted herself on the day she was executed. She is a queen that lives on in many ways.

Since her death, her ghost had been seen regularly at various places throughout England – Salle Church, the Tower of London, Blickling Hall, Marwell Hall and Hever Castle, earning her the reputation as Britain’s most well travelled ghost.

It had been reported that she is often seen as how she was in life, young, beautiful and happy. There are also reports of her as after her execution, headless, clutching her head and blood dripping from her severed head. There is no doubt that Anne Boleyn, Britain’s most well travelled ghost was unique and the impact she left us all with is a significant one. Perhaps, by taking a look at what happened to her may explain to some extent why she makes her “presence” so frequently.

History of Anne Boleyn – In a nutshell

Anne Boleyn | The Moost Well Travelled Ghost in Britain
Anne Boleyn | National Portrait Gallery, Ireland

Anne was born to Thomas Boleyn, later 1st Earl of Wiltshire and to Elizabeth Howard, daughter to Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and Elizabeth Tilney, around 1501 in Blickling Manor, Norfolk. She, along with her two other siblings received good education suited to their status. Her youth was spent in Netherlands and in France, She returned to England when she was twenty-two, and immediately secured herself a position as the Lady-in-waiting for Catherine of Aragon, Queen consort to King Henry VIII.

Anne is described as intelligent, headstrong, principled and the only person who could go head to head with the King. She dazzled the royal court with her charming French flair and stole the King’s heart.

Henry VIII fell in love with Anne and desperately wanted to be with her, believing also that Anne would give him a son that he so longed to have as heir to the throne. He was still married to Catherine of Aragon, and as Catholics, the Pope refused his request for a divorce. Henry took drastic actions, completely reforming the church, breaking away from Rome, creating a new branch of Christianity and making himself the head of church. Thereafter, his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was annulled. However, before the annulment was through, Anne discovered that she was pregnant. Henry and Anne married in secret first, then officially in July 1533. Anne gave birth to Elizabeth in September.

As Henry was desperate for male heir, he was disappointed when Anne gave birth to baby girl. Anne went on to have two further pregnancies but both failed. The relationship between Anne and Henry broke down and Henry began his courtship with Jane Seymour, wife number three. Henry wanted to get on with his life with Jane Seymour and wanted to be rid of Anne.

Henry, together with Thomas Cromwell, his chief minister, trumped up charges of incest, adultery, treason and witchcraft against Anne Boleyn. Anne was charged, tried and found guilty on all counts. She was beheaded by a highly skilled French swordsman at Tower Green on May 19 1536, just three years since becoming queen consort to Henry VIII.

The following are some fascinating accounts relating to the legends of hauntings of Anne Boleyn. As with many stories passed down in folk tales, they can be elaborated and embellished with the telling. I have not personally experienced a sighting of Anne, and I shall leave it to you, the reader to make of it what you will.

Blickling Hall | Norfolk

blickling.estate.nationaltrust | Britain's Most Well Travelled Ghost
Blickling Hall | Norfolk | Photo: National Trust

Blickling Hall in Norfolk, England is a quintessentially English stately home with magnificent dusty pink brick walls and topiary garden surrounded by vast woodlands for pure enjoyment.

The current hall was built upon the ruins of Blickling Manor, which was former home to the Boleyns until 1505. Anne, along with her siblings Mary Boleyn and George Boleyn were born here.

At Blickling Hall, the tale has Anne as the occupant of a carriage, dressed in pure white with her blood drenched head resting on her lap. The carriage is drawn by a headless horseman and four headless horses. Once Anne arrives at the Hall, she is said to roam the corridors from sundown to sunrise. This manifestation takes place each year on the anniversary of her death, May 19th.

Anne was also sighted by the lake at Blickling. Sometime during World War II, the butler at Blickling witnessed a mysterious lady by the lake. She was dressed in grey, a white lace collar and a mob-cap. He asked her what she was looking for to which she replied:

“That for which I search has long since gone”

Although it has been said that this may not be Anne because the costume described appeared more seventeenth century – lace was extremely rare in 1530s. However, supporters of Anne point out that she was beheaded wearing something similar.

Blickling Hall is also said to have a lost chamber! It was a study called the ‘Old Bullen’ associated with Anne Bullen. The room was said to have such an evil atmosphere. It was walled up and its whereabouts is now lost. As an aside, it is hard to imagine Anne, who was elegant and sophisticated would be an evil atmosphere, perhaps intense, but not evil.

Hever Castle | Kent

Hever Castle |
Hever Castle | Kent

Hever Castle, the family seat of the Boleyns has strong connections with Anne. Hever Castle was where Anne grew up and her ghost is said to appear around Christmas time. Christmas was Anne’s favourite time of the year.

Anne is said to appear crossing River Eden, close to Hever Castle, heading home. Anne has also been seen walking around the grounds of the castle. There is an old oak tree, where Henry VIII and Anne spent many hours during their courtship. Anne has often been seen underneath the tree.

Tower of London | London

The Tower of London | Britain's Most Well Travelled Ghost
Tower of London | Photo by Georgina_Daniel

It is no surprise that Anne Boleyn has been seen many times at the Tower of London, a place where she spent her last days. One of the famous sighting of Anne was in 1864 by a guardsman on duty, attested to by one General Dundas.

The guardsman saw a woman clad in white emerging from the Queen’s house across the lawn. The guard, thinking that she was real, charged at her in an attempt to ward her off, and ended up charging through her ghost! Realising he had just encountered a ghost, the guardsman fainted. The military court wanted to court-martial the guardsman for fainting on duty and abandoning his post – the ghost of a Tudor queen is hardly a defence! The charges were dropped when General Dundas testified as a witness.

Tower of London = Chapel Royal | Britain's Most Well Travelled Ghost
Tower Green | Chapel Royal St Peter ad Vincula | Tower of London | Photo by Georgina_Daniel

Another sighting of Anne at the Tower was at the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula. Late one night, the Captain of the Guard, saw a light flickering inside the chapel. In an attempt to find the source of the light, he took a ladder, and climbed up to view. He saw ladies and knights dressed in century old clothes in a precession led by Anne Boleyn.

The ghost of Anne Boleyn is frequently seen walking throughout the church at the Tower towards her grave.

There has been further sightings of Anne as a ‘bluish figure’ floating across the green to the Queen’s house. On one occasion, there was a strange glow coming from one of the windows at the House, moving between rooms, believed to be Anne. Though many wardens and guardsman had witnessed it, few spoke of it.

There had been numerous sightings of Anne at the Tower of London and it appears she is very drawn to the last place she was alive, or perhaps because it was the place she felt most betrayed.

Marwell Hall | Hampshire

Marwell Hall | Hampshire | Britain's Most Well Travelled Ghost
Marwell Hall | Hampshire

One legend has it that Anne strolls the grounds of Yewtree Walk at Marwell Hall, Hampshire.

Marwell Hall was home to the Seymours and Jane Seymour and Henry VIII spent many hours together here while Anne was a prisoner at the Tower. There are suggestions that Jane and Henry were secretly married here, prior to their official wedding in May 1536.

It is little surprise that Anne’s ghost is sighted at Marwell Hall, after all this is the place where she was betrayed by her husband.

Salle, St Peter & St Paul Church | Norfolk

There are stories that Anne is sometimes seen at Salle, St Peter & St Paul Church on the anniversary of her execution.

There is an unsubstantiated legend that Anne Boleyn is buried in the church cemetery which is why she is seen here. According to the legend, friends of Anne removed her body from the Chapel Royal at the Tower on the night of her execution and brought it to Salle to be buried there. She was buried at midnight, and a black slab placed over her grave.

The church was built in part by Anne’s paternal great grandfather, Geoffrey Boleyn. Earliest mention of the story is recorded by witnesses at two weeks after Anne’s execution. It has also been related by Charles Dickens, a novelist in his article in Bentley’s Miscellany, 1848 Vol 23 p.233

The mystery and truth of Anne’s final resting place will probably never be resolved. However, a permanent memorial for Anne Boleyn is erected in Tower Green, Tower of London.

Windsor Castle | Berkshire

England: Windsor Castle
The Main Entrance to Windsor Castle_view from Cambridge Gate

Windsor Castle, home to the Queen and the oldest occupied castle in the land as well as the world has also been visited by the ghost of Anne Boleyn. Legend says, Anne has been wandering the halls on numerous occasions. Dean’s Cloister was home to Anne on a few occasions and story tells of her standing at one of the windows there.

Anne’s connections…

Anne Boleyn’s ghost sightings are somewhat unique as she is seen in so many places, Britain’s most well travelled ghost. These places have verified connections to Anne’s life. She makes her “presence” probably because her last days were fraught with so much trauma that some of her energy are imprinted in each of the locations that had been important to her, either by way of happy memories or betrayal. Anne’s story is a sad one and her restless soul travels.

While some may be sceptical as to the ‘existence’ of ghosts and paranormal activities, others stand by their bona-fide sightings. Whatever the truth might be of these tales, the continued popularity of Anne Boleyn, demonstrates she still has the power to fascinate and captivate us as she continues to travel across Britain.


Learn more on the History of Britain for added value to your visits to historical sites:

Ghosts of Blickling Hall Norfolk

Magnificent Hever Castle | Anne Boleyn’s Childhood home

Anne Boleyn The Most Magnetic and Enduring of Tudor Queens

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

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

Beauchamp Tower London

Tower of London | Best Guide

The Bloody Tower at Tower of London

Queen Victoria | An intimate look at the woman behind the Crown.

Kensington Palace | 18th century gem

Interesting books on the Boleyns to learn more
Anne boleyn

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Anne Boleyn Britain's most well travelled ghosts
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Whatever the truth might be on her sightings, Anne Boleyn Britain's most well travelled ghost continues to captivate and enchants us | Hever Castle Kent | Tower of London | Windsor Castle Berkshire | Salle, St Peter & St Paul Church Norfolk | Marwell Hall Hampshire | Blickling Hall Norfolk | Visit London | Visit England| Tudor Queen | British History | Historic Britain | Britain's Queens and Castles | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Whatever the truth might be on her sightings, Anne Boleyn Britain's most well travelled ghost continues to captivate and enchants us | Hever Castle Kent | Tower of London | Windsor Castle Berkshire | Salle, St Peter & St Paul Church Norfolk | Marwell Hall Hampshire | Blickling Hall Norfolk | Visit London | Visit England| Tudor Queen | British History | Historic Britain | Britain's Queens and Castles | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass

English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass

English Heritage is a charity and is the guardian of over 400 historic buildings, gardens, monuments, medieval castles, forts and defences in England. They also conduct researches, support or carry out archaeological work and advise on what to do with a historic site. For the most part, English Heritage receive funding from the UK government, ultimately the UK tax payer but the costs of running, funding research and supporting excavations requires more. For this reason, the English Heritage charges its visitors a fee. This fee is levied on visitors from UK and visitors from abroad. To support the costs of visiting a site, English Heritage has several schemes.

For UK residents, English Heritage offer a membership scheme ranging from individual, joint, family and senior memberships. The English Heritage Membership is an excellent value for money scheme and you could navigate to read the complete guide on English Heritage Membership benefits . However, if you are not living in UK, the English Heritage Membership is not available to you. They do have a specially curated scheme for overseas residents visiting England on a vacation, What you need is the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass that allows for exploring the ancient historic past of over 100 heritage sites. Here’s how it works…

English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass

The English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass is a convenient way to explore England’s favourite and most historic sites. The Overseas Visitors Pass is available to visitors on vacation and gives you the flexibility to get the most out of your trip. It is available to three groups of visitors – single adult, joint or two adults and family. You have two choices to select from:

  • 9 consecutive day pass; or
  • 16 consecutive day pass.

*Effective from day of first activation

What does the Overseas Visitors Pass cost?

The price of the Overseas Visitors Pass varies according to the group specified and the length of time you need it for. The following is what is advertised on the English Heritage site:

Prices for the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass

Group9 days
£
16 days
£
1 x adult38.0045.00
2 x adults66.0076.00
Family75.0086.00
The Family Pass – 2 adults and 4 family members up to the age of 18 living at the same address as the adults

**Prices are valid from March 27 2021 to March 31 2022

Benefits of an English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass

The Overseas Visitors Pass is a simple way to explore some of England’s best and most treasured historic sites. These are:

Unlimited access

The Pass grants access to 100+ sites including the most popular places – Stonehenge, Dover Castle and Tintagel Castle. Visit as many times as you like within the duration of your Pass;

Free Guidebook

Along with the Overseas Visitors Pass, you will receive a Guidebook to the attractions and places you could visit with the Pass. To plan beforehand and as a guide, take a look at this map by the English Heritage for Overseas Visitors Pass.

Free or reduced entry to events

The Overseas Visitors Pass gives you access to special events such as jousts and re-enactments.

Flexibility

The Pass embeds great flexibility to suit your itinerary. Depending on your selection of either nine or sixteen days, it takes effect from first activation. You do not have to rush through your vacation, thereby rush through the sites. Plan ahead and dedicate the nine or sixteen days visiting all your must-see sites.

Value for money

With over a hundred places to visit, including Stonehenge, you could start saving almost immediately after visiting two or three sites. A simple illustration to give you an idea of how much you would save although the sites may not be a representative sample of visitors most visited.

A simple illustration of how much you would save with an Overseas Visitors Pass.

Heritage SitePrice per Adult £Price per child £Price per family – 2xadults + 3 kids £
Stonehenge21.5012.9055.90
Dover Castle18.7011.3048.70
1066 Battle of Hastings13.908.4036.20
Total price54.1032.60140.80
With Overseas Visitors Pass – 9 days 38.00FREE75.00
Savings made with Overseas Visitors Pass16.1032.6065.80
Adult: 18+ years | Child: 5-17 years | Family: 2xadults + up to 4 kids living in the same address | Prices include donations.

As can be seen, there are considerable savings to be made by visiting just three sites and you have a hundred left to explore! An incredible bargain – wouldn’t you agree?

Convenience

Buying an Overseas Visitors Pass could not be easier. You could do it online – just click the link below and complete the details or navigate via the English Heritage site.

Navigate via English Heritage site

Where and how to collect the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass

Bring along your email confirmation, proof of overseas residency/address and the credit card used for the purchase to collect your English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass from any of the English Heritage staffed site.

On a final note…

Without a doubt, the Overseas Visitors Pass offer great value for money and is a flexible Pass that can be utilised to the max if planned well. Plan ahead and buy it conveniently online > English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass.

Whenever you choose to visit England, have a great time exploring and discovering England’s finest!

Georgina xx