The Boleyn Lineage – An easy overview on Where the Boleyn descendants are today

The Boleyn Lineage – An easy overview on Where the Boleyn descendants are today

What to expect from this article on the Boleyn lineage

This article is an overview of what I now know about the Boleyn lineage in relation to the present royal family. As it is an overview, I have eliminated historical details to keep it simple but have included basic information to keep the subject matter in context. This helps us see how the Boleyn lineage had flowed through the centuries.

In this article, I have included a section on the numerous variations and the much debated spelling of the Boleyn family name, and why I opted for ‘Boleyn’ instead of other variations. Along with this, is a recap of who the Boleyn family were in history, although there is no consensus on the origin of the Boleyn family.

Links to resources are appended at the end of the article.

boleyn lineage

What was the Boleyn real surname – Boleyn, Bullen, Bolan or something else?

the Boleyn lineage

Variations of the surname ‘Boleyn’

In 1509, during the funeral of Henry VII, “Bolan” was used to address Sir Thomas. In the very same year of 1509, an invite to Sir Thomas and his wife Elizabeth, for the coronation of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon reads “Boleyne” and “Bolen” respectively. Sir Thomas’ brother, James went by his surname spelt as “Bulleyn”. In fact, Anne Boleyn herself, signed off as “Anna de Boullan’ in a letter she wrote to her father in 1513 when she lived in Austria.

These variations and more of the surname ‘Boleyn’ existed during the Tudor period. The primary reason cited for the variations in the spelling of the surname is the inconsistencies of Tudor words and spellings. Having said that, the inconsistencies also existed way back in the thirteenth century.

In a research carried out by Rev. Canon Parsons, who authored “Some notes on the Boleyn Family” in 1935 concluded that whilst the surname was spelt in various ways: “…Boleyn, Buleyn, Bolen, Bulleyne, Boleyne, Bolleyne, Boyleyn, Bowleyne, Bulloigne, and the modern form Bullen” , the spelling, “Boleyn” was the most common of the medieval forms.”

Popular and accepted spelling of the surname ‘Boleyn’

Therefore, given the variations and the non-standardised spelling of the surname, along with the popular acceptance by historians and writers of the surname spelt as “Boleyn”, I shall also accept this and use this spelling in my articles on the Boleyn lineage and related articles on the Boleyns.

Note: The city of Boulogne in France was written as “Boleyn” in the Chronicles of Calais. There are also other documents that refer to Boulogne as Boleyn. Historians belief that the Boleyn family originated from here and made their way to Norfolk during the Normans invasion in the 11th century. This opens up a whole new world of discovery for me, and I hope one day, will be able to investigate further.

A recap of earlier history of the Boleyn family

The earliest recorded history of the Boleyn family in England begins in the thirteenth century and surrounds humble beginnings.

There are mentions of a John Boleyn acting as surety for a William Boleyn in the local register of Walsingham Abbey, Norfolk in 1283.

According to wikitree geneology on the Boleyn family, one Ralph Boleyn was born roundabout 1260 in England. He had one child, John Boleyn, born around 1300. John Boleyn had one child, Thomas Boleyn, born around 1350. There are no records of the spouses to Ralph and John Boleyn.

Thomas Boleyn was a farmer in Salle, Norfolk. There are some mentions of him having descended from Nicholas Boleyn but I could not find information on Nicholas Boleyn to confirm.

Where do we begin…

Therefore, it is with Thomas Boleyn, born roundabouts 1350 where we will begin to trace the Boleyn lineage in this article.

To reiterate, this article on the Boleyn Lineage is intended as an overview. I have not included details of events and background information but have provided recommended reads and links.

Follow the highlights in red…

The Boleyn Lineage – from 1300s to 1603

Thomas Boleyn, [(1350 – 1411) farmer, Salle, Norfolk] mar. Jane (Bracton) Boleyn [(1359 – ?) daughter of Sir John Bracton, Salle, Norfolk] 1 child: Geoffrey Boleyn (1380)

Geoffrey Boleyn [(1380 – Mar 25 1440) Blickling, Norfolk, England] mar. Alice (Bracton) Boleyn [(1385 – 1440) Salle, Norfolk, England 3 children: Thomas Boleyn (1403 – 1472); Geoffrey Boleyn (1406 – 1463); Cecily Boleyn (1408 – 1458)

Geoffrey Boleyn [b.1406, Norfolk England – d.1463, City of London] – also known as Sir Geoffrey Boleyn or Bullen, a successful merchant in the City of London mar. Anne (Hoo) Boleyn [(1425 – Jun 6, 1485) Norfolk, England

8 Children:

Alicia (Boleyn) Aucher; Alice (Boleyn) Fortescue; Cecily Boleyn; Thomas Boleyn; Simon Boleyn; William Boleyn KB; Anne (Boleyn) Heydon and Isabel (Boleyn) Cheyne.

William Boleyn KB [(b.1449, Blickling Norfolk – Oct 10, 1505 Hever Kent, England)] mar. Margaret (Butler) Boleyn [b.1454 in Ormonde, Kerry, Ireland – d. Apr 3, 1537 in Hever, Kent, England]

10 children:

Anne Boleyn; Anthony Boleyn; Thomas Boleyn KG; Anne (Boleyn) Shelton; James Boleyn Kt; Edward Boleyn Kt; Amata (Boleyn) Calthorpe; Alice (Boleyn) Clere; William Boleyn; Margaret (Boleyn) Sackville.

*William Boleyn was appointed a Knight of the Bath by King Richard III

Thomas Boleyn KG [b. 1477 in Blickling, Norfolk, England – d. Mar 12, 1539 in Hever Castle, Kent England also known as Sir Thomas, 1st Earl of Wiltshire mar. Elizabeth (Howard) Boleyn [b. 1480 Norfolk, England – d. Apr 3, 1537]

3 surviving children:

Mary (Boleyn) Stafford; Anne, Queen of England; George Boleyn.

Anne Boleyn [b. 1501 in Blickling Hall, Blickling, Norfolk, England – d.May 19, 1536 in Tower of London, England. Also known as Anne “Queen of England” Boleyn or Bullen mar. Henry (Tudor) of England

1 child: Elizabeth I;

Are there any direct descendants of Anne Boleyn?

Anne Boleyn is known to have one spouse, Henry Tudor of England. They had one child who survived infancy. Elizabeth, was born on September 7, 1533. Queen Anne fell pregnant in 1934 and 1536 but both were stillborn. Therefore, Elizabeth was the only child of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Queen Elizabeth I | The Boleyn Lineage
Queen Elizabeth I | Image: © royal.uk

Elizabeth succeeded to the throne in November 1558 when her half-sister, Mary Tudor (1516 – 1558) died and became Elizabeth Tudor England. She was Queen of England and Ireland from September 17, 1558 until March 24, 1603 when she died. Queen Elizabeth was a popular queen and her 45-year reign is said to be one of the best in history. She is sometimes called the Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess. Queen Elizabeth never married, hence the nickname, the ‘Virgin Queen’. She was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor, and with no heir to the throne, effectively ending the Tudor reign. This also means that there are no direct descendants of Anne Boleyn.

The Boleyn Lineage – Coat of Arms of the Boleyn Family

The Boleyn Family | Coats of Arms | The Boleyn Lineage

Three bulls heads on a white field.

Place and Country of origin: Norfolk, England.

Founded: 1283

Founder: John Boleyn

Final head: Thomas Boleyn – Marchioness of Pembroke;

-Earl of Wiltshire;

-Earl of Ormond;

-Viscount Rochford.

Dissolution: 1539


The Boleyn Lineage – after Anne Boleyn – from 1536 to present day, 2021

As we know there are no direct descendants of Anne Boleyn. However, research has shown that the Boleyn lineage can be traced to the present day royal family. Whilst this article is not designed to trace the wider lineage of the Boleyn family, it will give you an overview of how the present day royal family is connected to the Boleyn family.

For ease of understanding, we shall return to Anne Boleyn’s family and begin the Boleyn lineage from one of Thomas Boleyn’s children.

We know that Anne Boleyn was one of three siblings born to Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and Elizabeth (Howard) Boleyn. Anne’s older sibling was Mary Boleyn (mistress to Henry VIII for some time) and her younger sibling, George Boleyn (who was executed on May 17, 1536, 2 days before Anne Boleyn’s execution). There are no other surviving children of Thomas Boleyn. This means Mary Boleyn was the only survivor of the Thomas Boleyn’s children.

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

Follow the highlighted trail from Mary (Boleyn) Stafford, the older sibling to Anne and see where it leads…

Thomas Boleyn KG [b. 1477 in Blickling, Norfolk, England – d. Mar 12, 1539 in Hever Castle, Kent England also known as Sir Thomas, 1st Earl of Wiltshire mar. Elizabeth (Howard) Boleyn [b. 1480 Norfolk, England – d. Apr 3, 1537]

3 surviving children:

Mary (Boleyn) Stafford; Anne, Queen of England; George Boleyn.

Mary (Boleyn) Stafford also known as Carey. [b.1499 in Blickling, Norfolk, England – d. July 19, 1543 in Chilton Folis, Wiltshire, England.

Mary married Sir William Carey [on Feb 4, 1521 in Greenwich, London.

2 children:

Catherine Carey – Lady Knollys; Henry Carey – 1st Baron Hunsdon;

About Mary (Boleyn) (Carey) Stafford:

*Mary was a mistress to Henry VIII for some time and some believe that Catherine Carey and Henry Carey were Henry VIII’s children.

*William Carey died of sweating sickness on June 23, 1528 leaving Mary a widow with two young children.

In 1534, Mary fell in love with William Stafford KB and they married in secret, without the approval of the King or her father, Thomas Boleyn. As a result, Mary was banished from the royal court and fell into disfavour.

Mary and William Stafford had 2 children: Edward Stafford (1535 – 1545) and Anne Stafford (1536-?)

Mary did reconcile with her father who allowed her to live at Rochford Hall, Essex.

The Boleyn Lineage – Catherine Carey

Follow the highlighted names from Catherine Carey’s daughter, Lettice Knollys and see where it leads…

Catherine (Carey) Knollys, later Lady Knollys (b. 1524 – d. January 15, 1569), first cousin to Queen Elizabeth I mar. Sir Francis Knollys

15 children:

Henry (1541); Mary (1542); Lettice (1543); William (1545); Edward (1546); Maud (1548); Elizabeth (1549); Robert (1550); Richard (1552); Francis (1553); Ann (1554); a child unbaptised (1557); Thomas (1558); Catherine (1559); Dudley (1562).

Lettice Knollys (b.1543 – d.1634)

Wife of Walter Deveraux, 1st Earl of Essex (b. Sept 16, 1539 – d. Sept 22 1576);

Wife of Robert Dudley MP (b.Jun 24, 1532 – d. Sept 4, 1588);

Wife of Christopher Blount MP (b. 1565 – d. Mar 18, 1601);

Mother to > Penelope (Deveraux) Blount (b.Jan 1563 – d. Jul 7 1607); Dorothy (Deveraux) Percy (b. 1564 – d. Aug 3, 1619); Robert Deveraux KG (Nov 10, 1566 – Feb 25, 1601); Walter (Deveraux) le Deveraux (b. 1570 – d. 1591); Robert Dudley (b. Jun 6, 1581 – d. 1584)

Robert Devereux KG, 2nd Earl of Essex (Nov 10, 1566 – Feb 25, 1601); mar. Frances Walsingham

Children: 2

Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex (b.Jan 22 1591 – d. Sept 14, 1646); Lady Frances Devereux (b. Sept 20 1599 – d. Nov 23 1679)

Lady Frances Devereux (b. Sept 20 1599 – d. Nov 23 1679) mar. William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset, 3rd Earl of Hertford

Children: 8

William Seymour (b.1621 – d. Jun 16 1642); Robert Seymour (b. 1622 – d. 1645/46); Henry Seymour, Baron Beauchamp of Hache (b.1626 – d. Mar 30 1654); Lady Mary Seymour (b. 1637 – d. Apr 10 1673); Jane Seymour (b. 1637 – d. Nov 1679); Frances Seymour (b. 1642 – ?); John Seymour, 4th Duke of Somerset (b. 1646 – d. Apr 29 1675) .

Jane Seymour (b. 1637 – d. Nov 1679);

Wife of: Charles Boyle, 3rd Viscount of Dungarven;

Wife of: William James Edwards II

Mother of: Arabella (Boyle) Petty; Richard Boyle; Henry Boyle; Elizabeth (Boyle) Barry; Mary (Boyle) Douglas; Charles Boyle, 2nd Earl of Burlington; Robert Edwards Sr.

Charles Boyle, 2nd Earl of Burlington (1673 – 1703); mar. Juliana (Noel) Boyle

Children: 4

Juliana (Boyle) Bruce; Elizabeth (Boyle) Bedingfeld; Richard Boyle 3rd Earl of Burlington; Henrietta Boyle

Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1695 – 1753) mar. Dorothy Savile

Children: 3

Dorothy Boyle; Juliana Boyle; Charlotte Elizabeth Boyle.

Charlotte Elizabeth (Boyle) Cavendish (Oct 1731 – December 1754) mar. William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire

Children: 4

William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire; Dorothy Cavendish; George Augustus Henry Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington;

From 1750s – 1900s

Dorothy (Cavendish) Cavendish-Bentinck (Aug 1750 – Jun 1794) mar. William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland

Children: 6

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, Duke of Portland; Lord William Cavendish Bentinck; Charlotte Cavendish Bentinck; Mary Bentinck; William Charles Augustus Bentinck; Frederick Cavendish Bentinck

William Charles Augustus Bentinck, Lord Cavendish Lieutenant Colonel ;

Husband of: Georgiana Augusta Frederica (Seymour) Cavendish-Bentinck

1 child:

Georgiana Augusta Frederica Henrietta Cavendish-Bentinck

Husband of: Anne (Wellesley) Cavendish-Bentinck

Children: 4

Anne Hyacinthe Cavendish-Bentinck; Charles William Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck; Arthur Cavendish-Bentinck; Emily (Cavendish-Bentinck) Hopwood

Charles William Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck aka Rev. Charles William Cavendish-Bentinck (Nov 1817 – Aug 1865) mar. Carolina Louis Burnaby

Children: 3 daughters:

Nina Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck; Anne Violet Cavendish-Bentinck twin with Hyacinth Cavendish-Bentinck

Nina Cecilia (Cavendish-Bentinck) Bowes-Lyon (Sept 1862 – Jun 1938; mar. Claude George Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne

Children: 10

Violet Hyacinth Bowes-Lyon; Mary Frances (Bowes-Lyon) Elphinstone; Patrick Bowes-Lyon; John Herbert Bowes-Lyon; Alexander Francis Bowes-Lyon; Fergus Bowes-Lyon; Rose Constance (Bowes-Lyon) Leveson-Gower; Michael Claude Hamilton Bowes-Lyon JP, VLL; Elizabeth Angela Marguerite (Bowes-Lyon) Windsor; David Bowes-Lyon KCVO

The Boleyn Lineage – Mary Boleyn > Catherine Carey > House of Windsor

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite (Bowes-Lyon) Windsor, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (Aug 1900 – Mar 2002) mar. Albert Frederick Arthur George Windsor, King George VI

Children: 2

Queen Elizabeth II Windsor; Margaret Rose (Windsor) Snowdon

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Windsor (b. Apr 1926) mar. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Jun 1921 – Apr 2021)

Children: 4

Prince Charles (Windsor) Mountbatten-Windsor KG; Anne (Windsor) Laurence; Prince Andrew (Windsor) Mountbatten-Windsor; Prince Edward (Windsor) Mountbatten-Windsor

Conclusion on the Boleyn Lineage

There you have it – the Queen Mother and HM Queen Elizabeth II are the direct descendants of Mary Boleyn. You may also wish to know that not only the young royals, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex are direct descendants of Mary Boleyn through Prince Charles, they are also descendants of Henry Carey (son of Mary Boleyn) on the Spencer side of the family, their mother Diana, Princess of Wales (July 1961 – Aug 1997).

Recommended read

To add value to our travels and on the Boleyn trail, you may wish to read the following articles also:

1 | Tower of London – The Best Guide to What you need to know before your visit

As the title of the article suggests, this is the best guide – it has all the information from its very beginning in the 11th century to present day. Visit the places where prisoners were once tortured, the spot where Anne Boleyn was executed, the Church which was Anne Boleyn’s resting place after her execution and the lasting memorial on Tower Green.

Read: Tower of London – The Best Guide to What you need to know before your visit

Read: 7 Best Ways to Visit the Tower of London

i | Admission tickets to the Tower includes admission to see the Crown Jewels.

ii | Admission to the Tower of London is Free as it is included in the value for money London Pass

2 | Hever Castle, Kent, England

Visit the magnificent Hever Castle in Kent, England which was Anne Boleyn’s childhood home. Learn of its history that spans 700 years, the incredible architecture and the beautiful gardens that surrounds the castle. There are two prayer books on display, belonging to Anne Boleyn that bears her signature.

For a complete guide including how to stay at the castle, read: The Magnificent Hever Castle – Anne Boleyn’s Childhood Home

3 | Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Visit Blickling Hall, a stately home in Norfolk, England which was the former home of the Boleyns and the birth place of the Anne Boleyn.

Read: Ghosts of Blickling Hall, Norfolk

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Articles and resources on British History

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The Boleyns – A Scandalous Family

Thanks to a fellow blogger who kindly wrote in on this documentary after reading my previous article on the Boleyn family.

Notes by The Rev. Canon W. L. E. Parsons, Rector of Salle, in Norfolk Archaeology or Miscellaneous Tracts relating to the Antiquities of the County of Norfolk, Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, Vol. XXV, 1935, p386-407

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 4 Part 1: Henry VIII, 1529-1530 (1879)

wikitree.com/geneology/boleyn

Anne Boleyn, A Chapter of English history, 1527-1536, Paul Friedmann

[Anne Boleyn; a Chapter of English History. 1527-1536; Volume 2]

EJ. Chapuis to Charles V., December 31, 1530, Vienna Archires, P.C. 226, i. fol. 109 , quoted in Friedmann

The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives


The Boleyn Lineage – An easy overview on Where the Boleyn descendants are today first published at timelesstravelsteps.com in September 2021

line breaker
Here is a simple guide as to how the present royal family are the direct descendants of the Boleyn. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Here is a simple guide as to how the present royal family are the direct descendants of the Boleyn. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

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

Interesting books on the Boleyns to learn more
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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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ghosts of blickling hall norfolk
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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.

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

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What do you think…

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

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

Georgina xx

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The magnificent Hever Castle | Anne Boleyn’s Childhood Home first published at timelesstravelsteps.com

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The magnificent Hever Castle, a romantic double-moated 13th century historic castle was the backdrop of some key events in royal history | Boleyn Family | Anne Boleyn | Home of Anne Boleyn | Visit Kent | Castle in Kent | Visit England | Visit UK | History of Britain | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/The magnificent Hever Castle, a romantic double-moated 13th century historic castle was the backdrop of some key events in royal history | Boleyn Family | Anne Boleyn | Home of Anne Boleyn | Visit Kent | Castle in Kent | Visit England | Visit UK | History of Britain | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

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

The Boleyn Family

The Boleyn Family

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

This is their story.

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

The Boleyn Family - What happened to them after Anne's death

May 19, 1536

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

This woman was Anne Boleyn.

Recommended read: Beyond the Walls of London Fortress

Anne Boleyn | The Boleyn Family

“Anna Bollein Queen” by Hans Holbein

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

Anne Boleyn | Early years and Education

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

Recommended read: The Magnificent Hever Castle | Anne Boleyn’s Childhood Home

Anne Boleyn | Marriage

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

Anne Boleyn | Charges, Trial and Execution

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

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

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

Thomas Boleyn | Wikidata

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

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

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

Thomas Boleyn | Career and Marriage

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

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

Mary Boleyn (c.1499 – July 19 1543)

Anne Boleyn (c.1501 – May 19 1536)

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

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

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

Thomas Boleyn | What happened after Anne’s Execution

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

Recommended read: Ghosts of Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Thomas Boleyn | Final days

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

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

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

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

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

His tomb still survives today.

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

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

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

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

Believed to be Elizabeth Howard Boleyn

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

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn | Relationship with her children

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn | Her final days

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

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

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

Garden Museum

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

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

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

Mary Boleyn

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

Mary Boleyn | Education and Career

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

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

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

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

Mary Boleyn | Marriage and Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Stafford (1535-1545)

Anne Stafford (1536-unknown)

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

Mary Boleyn Stafford | Final days

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

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

Possibly George Boleyn | Wikidata

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

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

George Boleyn | Education, Career Marriage

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

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

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

George Boleyn | Charges, Trial and Execution

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

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

George Boleyn | Final speech

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

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

Weir, p243

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

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

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

Thoughts…on the Boleyn Family

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

Recommended read: Anne Boleyn – Britain’s most well travelled ghost

Are there any survivors of the Boleyn family around today?

The Boleyn Family
The Boleyn Family | Coats of Arms

The short answer is, YES! The Boleyn lineage continued under a different surname, inherited through marriages etc. Below is what I found out, with a brief look at how it all began with the Boleyns and how they may be around today.

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

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

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

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

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

Anne Boleyn married King Henry VIII and they had one child, Elizabeth. Elizabeth went on to inherit the throne in 1558 to become Queen Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Ireland. She did not marry and did not have any children. She was queen until her death, on March 24, 1603.

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

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

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

The Boleyn lineage – where are the Boleyns now

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

Recommended read: The Boleyn Lineage – find out how the present royal family are the direct descendants of the Boleyn.


Reader contribution:

September 8, 2021- A reader, Andrea has kindly contributed the following information. You can find Andrea’s comment and my response to Andrea’s comment by scrolling down to comments.

“Both the Queen and Queen Mother are/were direct descendants of Mary Boleyn through one of the Carey siblings. Have you seen the BBC documentary the Boleyns: a scandalous family?”


August 9, 2021 – A reader has kindly written in with the following comment which I share here:

“The earlier spelling of the surname was Bullen. This is still a surname found in Norfolk and Suffolk.” – Daniel Morgan

You can find this comment and my response to Daniel Morgan if you scroll down to comments.


Read my latest article on the Boleyn lineage

The Boleyn Lineage

History of Britain

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

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

In writing this article on the Boleyn family, as well as all related articles to Anne Boleyn, I have used the resources listed below in my research to ensure the information contained herein is as accurate as it can possibly be. There is a further careful selection of books written on the Boleyn which you may find interesting by navigating here.

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Recommended for readers who want to delve deeper > Highly recommended selection of books on the Boleyns


Finally on the Boleyn Family

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

Georgina xx

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

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The Boleyn Family - What happened to them after Anne's death
The Boleyn Family

RESOURCES

Bruce, M. L. Anne Boleyn, 1982.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mistresses of Henry VIII by Kelly Hart (2009)

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

Wikipedia

annebolyenfiles


The Boleyn Family | Who were they and What happened to them after Anne’s death first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly updated. Last update: September 21, 2021

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

Anne Boleyn The Most Magnetic and Enduring of Tudor Queens

Anne Boleyn The Most Magnetic and Enduring of Tudor Queens

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

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

This is her story.

Anne Boleyn: Biography

Born: c1501 | Blickling Castle, Norfolk

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

Reigned: June 1533 – May 1536

Coronation: June 1 1533

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

Spouse: Henry VIII

Children: Elizabeth I

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

Anne Boleyn | The most magnetic and enduring of Tudor Queens

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

Anne Boleyn’s Early Days

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

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

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

Hever Castle, Kent

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

About Anne Boleyn and her courtship with King Henry VIII

Anne Boleyn | r. 1533-1536 | Hever Castle

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

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

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

King Henry VIII, 1525

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

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

Anne Boleyn

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

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon | biography

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

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 20:21

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

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

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

Queen Elizabeth I | Three portrait slant | Royal Museum Greenwich

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

Anne Boleyn | Hever Castle
Anne Boleyn | Hever Castle

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

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

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

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

Charges

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

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

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

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

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

Jones, 178

Trial

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

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

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

Jones, 180

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

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

Execution

Execution of Anne Boleyn | An artist impression | History

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

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

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

When on the scaffold, Anne made a simple speech:

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

Before the blade fell, Anne said the following:

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

With a single stroke, the executioner beheaded the queen.

Anne Boleyn | Burial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henry painted a picture of his wife being a reckless cheat and that he was a wronged husband so that Anne’s image, reputation and legacy was forever tarnished in his kingdom. However, historian