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

The Boleyn Family

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

This is their story.

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

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

The Boleyn Family

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

This woman was Anne Boleyn.

Anne Boleyn

“Anna Bollein Queen” by Hans Holbein

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

Anne Boleyn | Early years and Education

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

Anne Boleyn | Marriage

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

Anne Boleyn | Charges, Trial and Execution

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

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

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

Thomas Boleyn | Wikidata

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

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

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

Thomas Boleyn | Career and Marriage

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

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

Mary Boleyn (c.1499 – July 19 1543)

Anne Boleyn (c.1501 – May 19 1536)

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

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

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

Thomas Boleyn | What happened after Anne’s Execution

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

Thomas Boleyn | Final days

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

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

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

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

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

His tomb still survives today.

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

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

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

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

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

Believed to be Elizabeth Howard Boleyn

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

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn | Relationship with her children

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn | Her final days

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

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

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

Garden Museum

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

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

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

Mary Boleyn

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

Mary Boleyn | Education and Career

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

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

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

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

Mary Boleyn | Marriage and Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Stafford (1535-1545)

Anne Stafford (1536-unknown)

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

Mary Boleyn Stafford | Final days

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

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

Possibly George Boleyn | Wikidata

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

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

George Boleyn | Education, Career Marriage

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

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

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

George Boleyn | Charges, Trial and Execution

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

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

George Boleyn | Final speech

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

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

Weir, p243

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

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

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

Thoughts…

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

Are there any survivors of the Boleyn family around today?

The Boleyn Family
The Boleyn Family | Coats of Arms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

History of Britain

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

Stonehenge | A sophisticated architecture

Tower of London | Best guide

Queen Victoria | The Woman behind the Crown

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

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

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

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

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

Georgina xx

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

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RESOURCES

Bruce, M. L. Anne Boleyn, 1982.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mistresses of Henry VIII by Kelly Hart (2009)

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

Wikipedia

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

Train Travel in UK A Quintessential Odyssey | Best 8 UK Scenic Train Journeys

Train Travel in UK

A Quintessential Odyssey | Best 8 UK Scenic Train Journeys

Alongside one of the oldest rail network in the world, UK boasts some modern networks as well that will have you enjoy very comfortable journeys. The rail network covers the whole country, serving more than 2,500 stations and the system is efficient and reliable. You are never too far away from a station dotted along the lines criss-crossing the country. You can leave London and be in Edinburgh in as little as 4 hours. From the mountains of Wales, the romantic coastlines of England to the dramatic and jagged coastline of Scotland, train travel takes you through unforgettable scenery. Add a touch of adventure to your relaxing, comfortable and scenic journey, making train travel in UK a quintessential odyssey. Here is a selection of the best 8 scenic train travel in UK that you would absolutely enjoy when travelling by train.

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

1 | Scotland’s West Highland Line – Jacobite Steam train in Scotland | Train Travel in UK

The Scottish Highlands boasts some of UK’s most scenic and dramatic views, and one of the best train journeys is onboard the Jacobite steam train.

A touch of adventure & what to experience with the Jacobite

The Jacobite departs just a short distance away from Ben Nevis, UK’s highest mountain. The steam train gently chugs along a 67 kilometres (42 miles) track to reach Mallaig, an established fishing village, the final destination.

Inverness | Jacobite Steam Train | Train travel in UK
The Jacobite on the Glenfinnan Viaduct

The journey through majestic mountains, tranquil lochs, silvery beaches and mystical beauty enchants a train traveller in what is often described as one of the greatest railway journeys in the world. Perhaps the most recognisable part of this journey is when the Jacobite crosses the iconic arches of Glenfinnan Viaduct, a scene made popular by the Harry Potter movies. This beautifully curved 21-arched viaduct has become a major tourist attraction since.

Beyond this, the journey takes you through the beautiful villages of Lochailort, stops at the most westerly mainland railway station at Arisaig, passing the deepest freshwater lock in Britain, Loch Morar and finally arriving near the deepest seawater lock in Europe, Loch Nevis.  

Practical information:

Places to Stay:

Fort William | Edinburgh | Inverness

Activities and Related Tours:

From Edinburgh: Magical Highlands Tour with Hogwarts Express

From Inverness: Jacobite Steam Train and Highlands Tour

Full-Day Glenfinnan and Glencoe 8 Seater Tour from Inverness

Hogwarts Express and the Scenic Highlands Day Tour from Inverness

2-Day Inverness and the Highlands Small Group Tour from Edinburgh

Related tours by Get Your Guide | Related tours by Viator

The Route

Route: Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland

Journey time: 1 hour 23 minutes

Costs: £7.50

If you are travelling to Edinburgh or Inverness from London, you can easily purchase your tickets via Trainline for a comfortable and seamless journey. Book in advance and take advantage of offers on cheap tickets. Learn more about Trainline and the various ticket types from this article.

View Tickets, Times & Travel on Trainline: Link to Trainline services at the end of this article.


2 | Bluebell Railway – An experience not to be missed! | Train Travel in UK

Bluebell Railways | Train travel in UK
Bluebell Railways

Britain’s oldest preserved standard-gauge passenger railway, Bluebell takes you on a 11-mile scenic ride across one of England’s most beautiful countryside in Sussex.

A touch of adventure & what to experience at the Bluebell Railways

Go back in time

The steam locomotive runs between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead, There are a number of vintage carriages that offer a quintessential experience and each of the railway stations are restored to a different period. Sheffield Park transports you back in time to the 1880s, while the refreshment room at Horsted Keynes takes you to the 1920s. A visit to Kingscote and you will experience rail travel in the 1950s. Railway staff are dressed in period clothing and you get to see the original working signal box as well. There’s a shop and a museum where you can spend some time learning more of the Bluebell Railway.

Bluebells

Bluebell Railways | Train travel in UK
Sea of Bluebells in spring

Sit back and enjoy a quintessential odyssey as you ride in the comfort and luxury of a bygone era. The journey takes you through an area adorned with a sea of beautiful bluebells as they come into bloom in Spring. Picturesque and postcard perfect scene.

A thorough English experience

While soaking in the beautiful Sussex countryside on this iconic ride, you may want to enjoy a thorough English experience as well. Book a seat on the Afternoon Tea Train where you will be served with a full afternoon tea which includes delicious sandwiches, scones and cakes.

Golden Arrow Dining

By far the most beautiful experience of all, is a ride on the Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train. Recreating the once glamorous and famous Golden Arrow that linked London and Paris, the Pullman Dining Train is perfect for special occasions as it offers luxurious dining with style served to the standards of yesteryear.

Practical information on Bluebell Railways

Bluebell Railways is managed entirely by volunteers. It is open on specific days of the week, mainly on weekends.

An All Day Rover Ticket allows for as many train rides as you like.

Address: Park Station, Sheffield, Uckfield TN22 3QL | Tel: +44 1825 720800

Due to Covid-19 safety measures, the Golden Arrow Dining experience is currently unavailable.

Learn more about the Bluebell Railways and its operational hours by navigating to Bluebell Railways here.

How to get to Bluebell Railway:

Sheffield Park Station (TN22 3QL)

Sheffield Park Station is the best point to join the Bluebell Railway. This is situated on the A275 East Grinstead – Lewes main road, about two miles north of its junction with the A272. The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park is well signposted with brown tourist direction signs from the A22 and A23 trunk roads. .

By Train: From Victoria Station (London) to Cooksbridge (Southern towards Eastbourne). From Cooksbridge, take a bus, 121 towards Sheffield Park. Alight at Bluebell Railway.

View Tickets, Times & Travel on Trainline – Link at the end of this article.


3 | Snowdon Mountain Railway | Train Travel in UK

Snowdonia | Train Travel in UK
Beautiful sights of sheep in the mountains | Snowdonia | Pixabay

A unique mountain journey awaits any train traveller in UK when visiting Snowdonia, northwestern Wales. Marvel at the extraordinary and breathtaking landscape of Snowdonia National Park while onboard the Snowdon Mountain Railway as it ascends to the highest peak in Wales, Mount Snowdon.

Snowdon Mountain Railway

The railway begins its 7.5 kilometres (4.7 miles) track in Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon, at 1085 metres above sea level. Jump aboard one of the Railway’s oldest carriages, the Snowdon Lily or one of the contemporary ones for a modern feel.

A touch of adventure and what to experience at the Snowdon Mountain Railway

A place of legends and unparalleled scenic beauty

A place of legend, these ancient Snowdonian mountains were the result of volcanic forces 450 million years ago and once, stood at 10,000 metres above sea level.

Landscape of Snowdonia | Snowdonia Mountain Railway | Train Travel in UK | A quintessential Odyssey
Landscape of Snowdonia | Snowdonia Mountain Railway | Train Travel in UK | A quintessential Odyssey

Your odyssey begins just as soon as you leave Llanberis. The Snowdon Mountain Railway crosses over one of the two viaducts, offering you views of the the majestic waterfall, Ceunant Mawr that plunges into the gorge. The journey continues into the open countryside, dotted with abandoned dwellings. Passing Hebron Station, climbing higher, the Hill of the Falcon can be seen in the distant, home of the Peregrine Falcon, the world’s fastest animal. To the north of the Hill of the Falcon is a cave. Legend has it that Owain Glyndwr, the leader of the last Welsh rebellion lies in wait to rise and lead his people once more against the English.

Your adventure gets even better as the carriages climb ever higher giving you overwhelming views of the landscape from the very top. On a clear day you may spot Ireland, England, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

Georgina suggests: When at the Visitor Centre, try the Oggie, a Welsh type of pasty filled with local lamb and leeks.

Practical information on Snowdon Mountain Railway

Address:  Llanberis, Caernarfon LL55 4TU | Tel: +44 1286 870223

Open from 08:30am daily throughout the season (July-Oct 2020)

Note 2020 season: Due to Covid-19 safety measures, the summit building ‘Hafod Eryri’ is not open for 2020. As well, the Heritage Steam Service is not in operation for 2020.

The destination is Clogwyn Station, which is ¾ distance to the summit of Snowdon. The journey time to Clogwyn is approximately 45 minutes and passengers have a 30-minute stop-over at this unsheltered station.  Please be aware that there are no facilities at Clogwyn, or on-board the trains. The service represents approximately 2-hour experience overall.

Snowdon Mountain Railway

Places to Stay near Snowdonia:

Stay at the very pretty town of Betws-y-Coed, right in the heart of Snowdonia. Select your accommodation here.

Activities to do in and around Snowdonia

From Llandudno: Full Day Snowdonia & the Three Castles Tour

From Llandudno: Portmeirion, Snowdonia, and Castle Tour

From London: Best of Wales 6-Day Tour

Guided Mountain Adventures

Half-Day Wales Snowdonia Nordic Walking Small-Group Experience

How to get to Snowdonia by train

You can easily get the train to Snowdonia no matter which part of UK you are at. There are direct services from London to Bangor that will take you to the popular North Wales coastal destinations. Make local connections via the Conwy Valley Line which runs through the Snowdonia National Park to Betws-y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

You could also take the North Wales Coast Line from Crewe to Holyhead which connects you to Bangor at the north-western edge of the park and Llandudno, where you can get the Conwy Valley Line down through the park as far as Blaenau Ffestiniog.

View Tickets, Times & Travel on Trainline – link at end of this article.



4 | Settle to Carlisle Railway | Train Travel in UK

Sunrise, Yorkshire Dales | Train Travel in UK
Sunrise, Yorkshire Dales, England

The Settle to Carlisle Railway in northern England was completed in 1876 and is arguably the most impressive of Victorian engineering. The track is approximately 115 kilometres (72 mile) and offers magnificent views of the North Pennines, Eden Valley and Yorkshire Dales. A thrilling experience for train travel in UK, the journey takes you through remote and scenic regions, crossing 21 viaducts and 14 tunnels.

A touch of adventure and what to experience at the Settle to Carlisle Railway

One of the most scenic journeys in UK

Ribblehead Viaduct | Settle to Carlisle Railway | Train Travel in UK
Ribblehead Viaduct | England

The most impressive of the 1 hour 40 minutes track is, without a doubt, the spectacular Ribblehead Viaduct with its 24 arches. The track takes you through the beautiful landscape of Cumbria. The Blea Moor Tunnel is one to look out for, built 5,000 feet beneath the Moor! It is a 2.4 kilometre railway tunnel and is the longest tunnel on the Settle-Carlisle Line. It’s located between Ribblehead Viaduct and Dent Railway. Also, don’t miss the Ais Gill. Ais Gill summit is the highest point in the Settle-Carlisle Railway at the Mallerstang Valley, at 356 m (1,169 ft) above sea level. The journey terminates at Carlisle. The historic city offers plenty to see and do, especially its 900 year old castle and cathedral.

carlisle cathedral | train travel in uk
Carlisle Cathedral, Carlisle, England

Practical information on Settle – Carlisle Railway

Places to Stay:

Settle | Carlisle | Edinburgh

The Route

From Settle Junction on the Leeds to Morecambe line, and Carlisle, near the English-Scottish borders.

Route: Settle to Carlisle

Journey time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Journey track: 115.47 kilometres | 71.75 miles

View Tickets, Times & Travel on Trainline – link at the end of this article.


5 | Durham to Berwick-upon-Tweed | Train Travel in UK

Durham Castle, England | Train Travel in UK
Durham Castle, Durham, UK

Another spectacular scenery awaits train travellers in UK when they embark on a journey in the northeast coast of England. Previously voted as the most scenic route in Britain, the Durham to Berwick-upon-Tweed journey offers idyllic views, much unknown and unspoilt of the Northumbrian countryside.

A touch of adventure and what to experience on the Durham to Berwick-upon-Tweed

Alnwick Castle | aka Harry Potter Castle | Train Travel in UK
Alnwick Castle, England

The journey begins in the historic city of Durham, a cobbled university city with a Romanesque cathedral, taking you through Newcastle-upon-Tyne and picturesque rugged countryside of Northumbria. Heading north to the northernmost in England, the pretty coastal border town of Berwick. The coastal scenery does take your breath away! It is an area in northern England that is home to magnificent and stunning landscapes just waiting to be explored. For history buffs, look out for Alnwick Castle and Banburgh Castle along the way – both dating back to the Norman Conquest. The track ends at Berwick-upon-Tweed. You could spend a relaxing day at this coastal town and/or visit Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Holy Island, Lindisfarne, England
The picturesque Holy Island, Lindisfarne, England

Holy Island is a tidal island, cutting off from the rest of the world twice daily when the tides rise. An island as well as a picturesque village, Holy Island of Lindisfarne carries a wealth of history and remains a place of pilgrimage. (Lindisfarne Priory, the birthplace of Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world’s most precious books). The island is also the final destination of one of Scotland’s Great Trails.

Practical information on Durham to Berwick-upon-Tweed line

Places to Stay:

Durham | Leeds

Activities to do in and around Durham

Durham: Historical Guided Walking Tour

Durham: Half Day City Tour

The Route

Route: Durham to Berwicj-upon-Tweed

Journey track: 114 kilometres ( 71 miles)

Journey time: 1 hour 4 minutes

View Tickets, Trains & Travel on Trainline – link at the end of this article


6 | The Cumbrian Coast Line | Train Travel in UK

Lake District, Cumbria
Lake District, Cumbria, England

The Cumbrian Coast Line runs an impressive scenic route keeping you close to the shoreline, making its way between Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness.

The scenic journey of 137 kilometres (85 miles), was chosen by Michael Portillo for the BBC Series, Great British Railways Journeys in 2010. The track offers train travel in UK one of the best scenic views, passing the fells of Lake District, quaint villages, rural countryside as well as the mountains on one side and the stunning views of the Irish Sea on the other. Much of the line dates back to 1800s and is punctuated by 26 stations, ordinarily giving a journey time of 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours.

A touch of adventure and what to experience on the Cumbrian Coast Line

An adventure awaits…

The Cumbrian Coast Line is perfect for when exploring the outdoors in and around the Lake District National Park. Add a touch of adventure to your scenic journey and explore the legacy of the line at Millom Discovery Centre and enjoy a trip on the Ravenglass and Eskdale heritage railway. The town of Marypot that’s steeped in Roman history makes a perfect destination for history lovers.

Practical information on the Cumbrian Coast Line

Places to Stay:

Barrow-in-Furness

Activities in and around Cumbria

Western Lakes Full Day Tour

Lowther Castle & Gardens

Ten Lakes Full Day Tour

The Route

Route: From Carlisle to Barrow-in-Furness

Journey track: 137 km (85 miles)

Journey time: 3 hours

Costs: from £17.70 (depending on your time of travel)

View Tickets, Trains & Travel on Trainline: Link at the end of this article.



7 | The Riviera Line | Train Travel in UK

Paignton Pier, England
Paignton Pier, England

The Riviera Line is one of England’s best stretches of coastal railways, along the South Devon coast between Exeter and Paignton. The journey offers amazing views of spectacular beaches, green countryside and river crossings.

A touch of adventure and what to experience on the Riviera Line

The Riviera Line is a local line that departs from Exeter city centre, following the Exe Estuary and the coast. The journey includes nine stops in between, including at the seaside town of Dawlish and Teignmouth before heading onwards to the English Riviera. The train stops at Torre, closest for Torquay and Paignton, allowing you to step onto the beach in no time! The journey takes you through several picturesque villages, famous river crossings and beautiful countryside – sights which you may miss when driving.

Practical information on the Riviera Line

Places to Stay:

Exeter | Paignton

Activities & Tours

5 Day Tour from London to Devon & Cornwall

3 Day Stonehenge, Bath & South West Coast Tour

The Route

Route: Exeter to Paignton

Journey track: 46 km (28 miles)

Journey time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Costs: from £8.20 (depending on time of day and type of tickets

View Tickets, Trains & Travel on Trainline: Link to Trainline at the end of this article.


8 | St Ives Bay Line | St Erth to St Ives | Train Travel in UK

St Ives, Cornwall, England

This is one of the shortest rail journeys, less than 15 minutes but one of the best loved scenic train travel in UK – between St Erth and St Ives.

A touch of adventure and what to experience with the St Ives Bay Line

The train chugs along a pretty stretch of Cornish coastline, including the golden sands of Hayle Towans and Carbis Bay before terminating at St Ives. Short, swift and arguably one of the most enjoyable scenic rides one would experience. Head to the beach, explore the harbour, visit the Tate St Ives art gallery and wander the shops. The St Ives Bay Line also connects with services to Penzance in the south, making a coast to coast train travel in UK a splendid and viable option.

Practical information on the St Ives Bay Line

Places to Stay:

St Ives | Penzance | Truro

Activities & Tours

St Ives

Poldark Tour of West Cornwall

Doc Martin and The Legend of King Arthur Tour

Cornwall’s Wild West Tour 1

Cornwall 3 day tour. | Sunset Tour | Photography Workshop

Award Winning Luxury 5 day South West of England Tour

The Route

Route: St Erth to St Ives

Journey track: 7 km (4 miles)

Journey time: 12 minutes

Costs: £4.00 (depending on time of day and type of ticket)

View Tickets, Trains & Travel on Trainline: For all options, the link to Trainline is at the end of this article.



My thoughts on Train Travel in UK

Wherever you choose to go, experience the hidden gems right across the UK, onboard steam locomotives, across jaw-dropping viaducts, and through rugged terrains – it takes train travel in UK to a whole new level. A quintessential odyssey awaits.


Related articles on train travel to support your travel plans:


Is this post valuable to you in planning your scenic train travel in UK? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Scroll all the way down for more ideas and inspiring travel stories. Subscribe to join us at My Timeless Footsteps to receive all the latest news and events. As always, I am contactable at ggdaniel166@gmail.com for any further info or to design your itinerary for you.

Have a splendid time exploring UK by train.

Georgina xoxo

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Train travel in UK takes you through romantic coastlines, dramatic, rugged mountains and unforgettable scenery. Here are the Best 8 for you. #traintravel #bestscenictrainjourneys #top8scenictraintravel #traintravelinuk #quintessentialodyssey #europetrains #britaintrains #uktrains via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/Train travel in UK takes you through romantic coastlines, dramatic, rugged mountains and unforgettable scenery. Here are the Best 8 for you. #traintravel #bestscenictrainjourneys #top8scenictraintravel #traintravelinuk #quintessentialodyssey #europetrains #britaintrains #uktrains via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/