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 as it stands today.
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Anne Boleyn Britain’s Most Well Travelled Ghost

Anne Boleyn Britain’s Most Well Travelled Ghost

Reports of sightings of Anne Boleyn Britain’s most well travelles 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.

Recommended read: The Boleyn Family – Who were they and What happened to them after Anne’s death

Anne and Henry

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.

Betrayal!

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.

Recommended read: Anne Boleyn – The most magnetic and enduring of Tudor queens

Accounts of sightings – Britain’s most well travelled ghost

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.

Anne – Britain’s most well travelled ghost at Blickling Hall

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.

The mysterious chamber

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.

Recommended read: The ghosts of Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Hever Castle | Kent

Hever Castle |
Hever Castle | Kent

The magnificent 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.

Recommended read: The magnificent Hever Castle – Anne Boleyn’s Childhood home

Tower of London | London and sightings of Britain’s most well travelled ghost

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.

Further sightings

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.

Recommended read: Tower of London – The best guide to what you need to know

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.

Recommended read: Windsor Castle and Windsor in one day

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.


More on history of 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

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Anne Boleyn Britain's most well travelled ghosts
Anne Boleyn Britain's most well travelled ghost
Anne Boleyn Britain's most well travelled ghost

Anne Boleyn Britain’s Most Well Travelled Ghost first published at timelesstravelsteps.com. Last updated on Aug 22, 2021

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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/

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.

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


I sincerely hope that this page is valuable to you in planning your visit to Blickling Hall? If so, do let me know in comments below. I would love to hear from you.

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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_timelesstravelsteps/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_timelesstravelsteps/

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.

hever castle

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.

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.

Traces of Anne Boleyn…

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

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 Gatehouse

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

The Entrance Hall

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 Dining Hall

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 Library

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.

Morning Room at the magnificent Hever Castle

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.

Anne Boleyn’s Bedroom

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 magnificent Hever Castle include:

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.


On a final note about Hever Castle

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.

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.

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