Unmissable9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight has a distinct variety of rich landscapes, recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ensuring that one of England’s finest and most fascinating of landscapes is preserved and enhanced. While the secretive coastlines, white chalky cliffs, quiet estuaries and gentle rolling woodland had attracted visitors since Victorian times, and continues to do so all year round, this enchanting island is home to some wealth of times gone by and the most fascinating and truly magical history.
Nestled in the village of Carisbrooke, Newport, sitting proudly atop a hill at the heart of Isle of Wight is Carisbrooke Castle, steeped in history and legend since pre-Roman times. Today, this remarkable castle is managed by English Heritage, and opened to the public. With lots of things to see and do whilst enjoying in the fresh open air, Carisbrooke Castle is a destination for history buffs, couples, family days out as well as for photography enthusiasts. To ensure nothing goes amiss, here is a guide for the unmissable 9 fun things to do in Carisbrooke Castle when visiting this heritage landmark.
Unmissable 9 fun things to do at Carisbrooke Castle
History tells us that Carisbrooke was once, the strongest castle on the Isle of Wight, and boasts defences from several eras. A central place of power and defence for over a thousand years, it was a Saxon fortress, a Norman castle, an artillery fortress during the Elizabethan era, later a prison for Charles I, then home to Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter. This historic motte-and-bailey castle is quintessentially romantic and will delight its visitors.
1 | Visit the Carisbrooke Castle 16th century guardhouse
Learn more of the tumultuous history of this fascinating and stunning castle. Watch the film and virtual tour presented in the 16th century guardhouse.
Princess Beatrice established the museum in 1898 as a memorial to her husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg with the “earnest hope and desire” and with the “help and co-operation of others” to “form a full collection of objects of historical interest connected with the Island”
Her aspiration is reflected in the extensive collection displayed and safeguarded by an independent Charitable Trust. The museum holds many important items that span the history of Isle of Wight since Roman times to the present. On your visit, you will note exhibits such as cross bow bolts from Tudor and medieval history, a small collection of personal items belonging to King Charles I and over 5000 paintings and prints reflecting the island’s topography and its people. There are exhibits of the Isle of Wight Rifles, reflecting the Island’s strong military connection during the wars. There are lots more on display such as the social history collection and the toy collection which are interesting also.
3 | Explore the Castle’s history
Delve deeper into the history of this well-preserved castle and experience how this stronghold had survived eight hundred years, resisting the French siege and the Spanish Armada. See where Charles I was imprisoned for fourteen months before his execution in 1649, and the room where he sought to escape from, he was found wedged in the bars of the window – the guards caught him!
4 | The Chapel of St Nicholas in Castro
St Nicholas Chapel is fairly recent, built in 1904 and located just next to the main gate. However, a long sequence of chapels dedicated to St Nicholas had been at the castle since medieval times.
The current chapel was built as a 250th anniversary memorial to Charles I and was redecorated in 1929. The altar painting was commissioned by Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria youngest daughter, in memory of her youngest son who died at Ypres. The chapel is now the island’s main war memorial.
Take a moment and experience the beauty, serenity and the warmth of St Nicholas Chapel.
5 | Meet Carisbrooke Donkeys at the Well House
Don’t miss the Well House – meet the lovable resident donkeys at Carisbrooke Castle who have been drawing up water for the castle for hundreds of years! Their daily routine is to work the sixteenth century tread wheel to raise water from the bottom of the castle well at 49 metres (161 metres).
6 | Ancient Castle Keep and Wall Walk
Climb the very steep steps of the castle mound to the ancient castle keep which was constructed during the Norman times in 1100, when the island belonged to the Redvers family.
Once up, you are rewarded with amazing views of the island and as far as your eyes can see. Follow the wall and the battlements – walk right around the castle, taking in the views from all directions.
7 | Edwardian Garden | Princess Beatrice Garden
Enjoy and be wooed by the beautiful and inspiring Edwardian garden which was created to reflect the original garden retreat of Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s daughter who later, was the Governor of Isle of Wight. The seasonal planting, water features and orchard are indeed charming. According to the English Heritage site, the plants were chosen:
“to echo Princess Beatrice’s blue, red and gold heraldic crest, and the layout reflects architectural detail on the adjoining Chapel of St Nicholas”
The layout of the garden takes inspiration from Princess Beatrice’s original private walled garden and when viewed from the wall-walk, you could see the framework of the borders reflect the chapel windows.
Outside of winter, spring brings forth the snowdrops, primrose and daffodils followed by cowslips and bluebells and the beautiful blossoms of the Judus tree plus so much more. Summer sees a riot of colours and exotic mix of cottage garden favourites while fall is the season to discover the unusual Mespelus germanica, fruits from which have been enjoyed since Roman times.
8 | Family fun
If you are visiting with kids, there are activities for children to participate where they can dress up as Norman warriors or as princesses.
English Heritage also run special events for school holidays and one of their most popular ones are the Easter Adventure Quest.
9 | Delightful Castle Tearoom
After exploring the castle and the grounds, treat yourself to a delicious light meal or snacks in the Castle’s Tearoom, located above the former carriage room. This delightful castle tearoom serves a selection of locally produced hot and cold food, including sandwiches, cakes, hot and cold beverages.
Plan your visit
Visits must be pre-booked. Once you have decided when to visit, book your arrival time slot. Take along your booking confirmation on the day – note that the time shown is the earliest you can arrive.
Last admission is thirty minutes before the site closes, but really you will need at least half a day for a full immersive experience.
*Family ticket is valid for 2 adults and up to 3 children
Carisbrooke Castle is managed by English Heritage, therefore English Heritage Members enjoy unlimited access to Carisbrooke Castle throughout their membership. The Membership is great value and you can take a look at the benefits it offers for one small contribution > English Heritage Membership benefits or you can become a Member now, using the link below.
Address: Castle Hill, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1XY
Travel to the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is just a few miles on the south coast of England and is easily reached by ferries and catamaran.
Wightlink Ferries depart from Portsmouth to Fishbourne and takes around 45 minutes. There is another from Lymington to Yarmouth which is around 40 minutes journey. Both ferry journeys accommodate cars, motor homes, bikes and foot passengers. Wightlink also runs a high-speed Catamaran for foot passengers from Portsmouth to Ryde pier and this journey takes approximately 22 minutes.
Red Funnel departs from Southampton and travels to East Cowes and takes about 60 minutes. The ferry takes cars, motor homes, bikes and foot passengers. Red Funnel runs the Red Jet service for foot passengers from Southampton into Cowes and this journey takes around 25 minutes.
Getting around the Isle of Wight
The public transport in Isle of Wight is managed by Southern Vectis and is acknowledged as the best rural bus services in the country.
The train service is Island Line and is managed by South Western Railway. The service connects Ryde, Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin. This is a convenient service to be picked up by foot passengers from Ryde pier.
Travelling to Southampton | Portsmouth | Lymington by train
Plan your journey ahead of time and take advantage of cheap tickets for your travel.
Carisbrooke Castle was one of our highlights when my family and I visited the Isle of Wight for 5 days. It was a great summer getaway and we cherish our many memories of the island. Sincerely hope you will get to experience Isle of Wight and Carisbrooke Castle if you haven’t already.
FACTS ABOUT CARISBROOKE CASTLE, ISLE OF WIGHT:
50.6873° N, 1.3135° W
Owned: English Heritage
Access: Open to the public
Address: Castle Hill, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1XY
Nearest town: Newport
History about Carisbrooke Castle:
A ruined wall suggests that there was a building here late Roman times but this has not been proved. The cousin of King Cynric of Wessex who died in 544 AD may have been buried here. The site may have been used as a pagan Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the sixth century – three graves were discovered here. It was a stronghold for the Anglo-Saxon during 8th century.
Later a defence wall was built around the hill to protect against the Vikings in 1000 AD.
From 1100 onwards, the castle was owned by the Redvers’ family and was sold to Edward I in 1293 by the last Redvers’ resident, Countess Isabella de Fortibus.
During the reign of Elizabeth I (Nov 1558 – 1603) the Castle was improved with stone walls, towers, keep and additional fortifications when the Spanish Armada was expected.
In 1649, Carisbrooke Castle became a prison for Charles I, and afterwards, his two children were confined to the castle as well, where his daughter Princess Elizabeth died.
From 1896 through to 1944, Carisbrooke Castle became a summer residence to Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria, who also succeeded her husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg and became the Governor of the Isle of Wight.
CJ Young, Excavations at Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight, 1921–1996, Wessex Archaeology Report 18 (Salisbury, 2000), 52–3, 86–97.
PG Stone, The Architectural Antiquities of the Isle of Wight, part II: The West Medine (London, 1891), 74–5
AD Saunders, ‘Hampshire coastal defences since the introduction of artillery’, Archaeological Journal, 123 (1967), 136–71.
English Heritage is a charity and is the guardian of over 400 historic buildings, gardens, monuments, medieval castles, forts and defences in England. They also conduct researches, support or carry out archaeological work and advise on what to do with a historic site. For the most part, English Heritage receive funding from the UK government, ultimately the UK tax payer but the costs of running, funding research and supporting excavations requires more. For this reason, the English Heritage charges its visitors a fee. This fee is levied on visitors from UK and visitors from abroad. To support the costs of visiting a site, English Heritage has several schemes.
For UK residents, English Heritage offer a membership scheme ranging from individual, joint, family and senior memberships. The English Heritage Membership is an excellent value for money scheme and you could navigate to read the complete guide on English Heritage Membership benefits . However, if you are not living in UK, the English Heritage Membership is not available to you. They do have a specially curated scheme for overseas residents visiting England on a vacation, What you need is the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass that allows for exploring the ancient historic past of over 100 heritage sites. Here’s how it works…
English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass
The English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass is a convenient way to explore England’s favourite and most historic sites. The Overseas Visitors Pass is available to visitorson vacation and gives you the flexibility to get the most out of your trip. It is available to three groups of visitors – single adult, joint or two adults and family. You have two choices to select from:
9 consecutive day pass; or
16 consecutive day pass.
*Effective from day of first activation
What does the Overseas Visitors Pass cost?
The price of the Overseas Visitors Pass varies according to the group specified and the length of time you need it for. The following is what is advertised on the English Heritage site:
Prices for the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass
9 days £
16 days £
1 x adult
2 x adults
The Family Pass – 2 adults and 4 family members up to the age of 18 living at the same address as the adults
**Prices are valid from March 27 2021 to March 31 2022
Benefits of an English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass
The Overseas Visitors Pass is a simple way to explore some of England’s best and most treasured historic sites. These are:
The Pass grants access to 100+ sites including the most popular places – Stonehenge, Dover Castle and Tintagel Castle. Visit as many times as you like within the duration of your Pass;
Along with the Overseas Visitors Pass, you will receive a Guidebook to the attractions and places you could visit with the Pass. To plan beforehand and as a guide, take a look at this map by the English Heritage for Overseas Visitors Pass.
Free or reduced entry to events
The Overseas Visitors Pass gives you access to special events such as jousts and re-enactments.
The Pass embeds great flexibility to suit your itinerary. Depending on your selection of either nine or sixteen days, it takes effect from first activation. You do not have to rush through your vacation, thereby rush through the sites. Plan ahead and dedicate the nine or sixteen days visiting all your must-see sites.
Value for money
With over a hundred places to visit, including Stonehenge, you could start saving almost immediately after visiting two or three sites. A simple illustration to give you an idea of how much you would save although the sites may not be a representative sample of visitors most visited.
A simple illustration of how much you would save with an Overseas Visitors Pass.
Price per Adult £
Price per child £
Price per family – 2xadults + 3 kids £
1066 Battle of Hastings
With Overseas Visitors Pass – 9 days
Savings made with Overseas Visitors Pass
Adult: 18+ years | Child: 5-17 years | Family: 2xadults + up to 4 kids living in the same address | Prices include donations.
As can be seen, there are considerable savings to be made by visiting just three sites and you have a hundred left to explore! An incredible bargain – wouldn’t you agree?
Buying an Overseas Visitors Pass could not be easier. You could do it online – just click the link below and complete the details or navigate via the English Heritage site.
Where and how to collect the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass
Bring along your email confirmation, proof of overseas residency/address and the credit card used for the purchase to collect your English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass from any of the English Heritage staffed site.
On a final note…
Without a doubt, the Overseas Visitors Pass offer great value for money and is a flexible Pass that can be utilised to the max if planned well. Plan ahead and buy it conveniently online > English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass.
Whenever you choose to visit England, have a great time exploring and discovering England’s finest!
English Heritage, formally known as English Heritage Trust is the popular entity that cares for England’s national collection of historic sites and monuments. To help keep the various ongoing programmes operational to a good standard for the benefit of current and future generation, the English Heritage charges visitors an entry fee at some of their historic sites. They also have valuable schemes to help with the costs so to encourage more visitors enjoy the remarkable heritage of England.
English Heritage Membership is a scheme that caters for different types of members – family, joint, individual and lifetime. In addition, English Heritage offer an Overseas Visitor Pass which is great value for money option if you are visiting England for more than nine days. More details on all of these below.
About English Heritage in a nutshell
English Heritage is a non-governmental entity, that became a self-financing charity in 2015.
According to English Heritage website, they are the guardian of “over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites – from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of the empire to a Cold War bunker”. Their purpose is to“bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year“ – They curate activities for people to experience history in an engaging way and offer hands on experiences to inspire imagination and authenticity in their young visitors for whose interests these historic sites are protected. Going forward, English Heritage is committed to “Inspiration, Conservation, Involvement and Financial Sustainability.”
In addition, English Heritage also educate, commission research, advise all sorts of people and bodies on England’s heritage, from the government to individuals who own listed buildings. Undoubtedly all of these costs money.
As a charity, a substantial amount of its running costs is met by the UK government, ultimately the British taxpayer. To supplement this support, English Heritage charges an entry fee for some of its properties. The entry fee varies, from under ten pounds to up to twenty pounds per person. The good news is that entry to over two hundred fifty properties are free including Maiden Castle, Dorset, St Katherine’s Oratory, Isle of Wight and Hadrian’s Wall, the most celebrated Roman monument in Britain built in 122 AD.
However, if you wish to visit some of the most intriguing and interesting sites that pull the most visitors such as Stonehenge, Dover Castle,Osborne House, and Bolsover Castle, the entry fee will quickly add up! Whether you live in England and visit English Heritage properties as a favourite past time or you are visiting the country from overseas, the costs of visiting the must-see historical sites will add up. Even if you decide to spread it across the year or the duration of your vacation and pay as and when you visit, it will take you well over sixty pounds per individual quite easily.
To help with the costs, and to encourage more visitors to embrace majestic castles, the archaeological and historic sites in England, English Heritage run two main schemes – English Heritage Membership mainly targeted to residents of UK and the Overseas Visitors Pass for visitors on a short-term vacation.
English Heritage Membership
English Heritage Membership provides for various groups of visitors. Currently the scheme caters for four main groups with sub-categories – Family, Joint, Individual and Lifetime. All membership schemes lasts a year. You could buy a membership for yourself or buy as a gift for another.
English Heritage Membership for Family
Family memberships are available for either one adult with children or two adults with children.
One adult + up to six children >> £64.00 a year
Two adults + up to twelve children >> £111.00 a year
*Adult members must live at the same address
English Heritage Joint Membership
Joint memberships are available in three categories:
Two adults >> £111.00 a year
One adult + one senior >> £99.00 a year
Joint Senior >> £87.00 a year
*Adults must be 18+ | Senior must be 65+ | Adult members must live in the same address
English Heritage Individual Membership
English Heritage individual membership cater for three categories of people:
Individual adult >> £64.00 a year
Individual Senior >> £57.00 a year
Young adult/student >> £51.00 a year
Adult 18+ | Senior-65+ | Young adult/student-18 to 25 + valid NUS card
English Heritage Lifetime Membership
The Life Membership is offered to four categories:
Individual adult (18+ years) >> £1490.00
Senior (65+ years) >> £1170.00
Joint adult (both 18+ years) >> £2130.00
Joint Senior (both 65+ years) >> £1560.00
Adult members must live at the same address
**All prices are correct at time of writing, March 2021. Prices includes donations.
As the membership scheme is available to a wide range of people and appears reasonably priced, there may still be questions asked and debated about.
Is the English Heritage Membership value for money
One of the many questions people debate about before joining a membership scheme, any membership scheme for that matter, is whether it is a value for money scheme. In other words, does the benefits outweigh its costs? In short, a membership scheme is value for money if it is used correctly. While joining the English Heritage membership provides for considerable savings to be made, the membership comes with so much more than just savings.
As an example, below is an illustration of the savings a family, would make in a year if they were to visit the following five of the most popular of English Heritage sites, including Stonehenge which is one of the most popular heritage site in UK for both residents and tourists alike.
Stonehenge, Wiltshire | Dover Castle, Kent | Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire | Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire | 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield, East Sussex
This may not be a representative sample of the top five sites that people would visit but it does give an idea of how much savings a family (2+3 kids) could make with a membership.
Price per adult £
Price per child £
Family (2 adults + 3 kids) £
1066 Battle of Hastings
Total price per adult/child/family
Total price per family – 2 adults and up to 12 kids | Annual membership = £111.00 )
**All prices are correct at time of writing, March 2021
Taking this example a little further for individual visits, you would still make savings out of an annual membership which is currently at £64.00. The table does not give a comparison for seniors, students and visitors but it does give a good idea of savings you would make if you had an English Heritage membership. Circling back to whether this membership is value for money – without a doubt it is provided you utilise it by visiting the heritage sites sprinkled around England in an annual period.
As necessary as it may be to make savings, English Heritage Membership benefits does not end with just free entry to over 400 properties in England. There is more.
English Heritage Membership Benefits
With an annual English Heritage Membership, you will enjoy the following benefits:
Free access to over 400 historical sites.
During the annual period, a member has free access to all 400 and more of English Heritage sites and can visit a site multiple times as you may wish. English Heritage properties includes castles, gardens, forts, defences, prehistoric sites, historic houses and abbeys. You could find a place to visit here.
Kids go free with an accompanying adult.
As you can see from the table above, up to six children get free entry to a site. There are events specially curated for kids during school term holidays and summer vacation that create imagination, responsibility and fun which are invaluable experiences for children.
Free or reduced entry to hundreds of events throughout the year.
Many of the English Heritage sites run varied programmes throughout the year for visitors. Members enjoy reduced entry fee or no fee at all to these events.
Free or reduced entry to other attractions in UK.
Members also get reduced price entry to heritage sites in Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
The membership pack contains your membership card along with a Members’ Handbook, Members’ Magazine, Information on Members’ Events and Members’ Rewards.
Members’ Handbook + Members’ Magazine
The complimentary Member’s Handbook worth £10.95 helps you plan inspiring days out and pre-book events before the general public. The Members Magazine is delivered four times a year with more colourful pictures and inspiring events to get involved in.
Members’ Rewards Scheme
The Members’ Rewards scheme offers members to take advantage of money- saving offers and deals from over 60 of English Heritage partners.
Simple pleasures of being part of English Heritage community
Besides getting great value on the very many English Heritage properties and the heritage sites in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where there are free or reduced entry costs, the benefits of joining the English Heritage membership allow for all sorts of simple pleasures.
Remember that your membership fee goes to a great cause – the protection of England’s most precious, and amazing of historic sites. You can see, enjoy and delve deeper into the discovery as well as the painstaking research that goes into preserving the monuments that represent English history as and when you are able to. In addition, your contribution goes towards preserving the historic sites for future generation – nothing quite beats the rhythm of history or standing on the very spot where historic events took place
The Members’ Magazine sets out forthcoming events where you can plan ahead of time and the Members’ Reward scheme is a great way to spoil oneself with something special for example a weekend getaway.
While the English Heritage Membership benefits are enjoyed by UK residents, visitors to UK may also enjoy the benefits of exploring the ancient historic past via a dedicated scheme – Overseas Visitor Pass.
English Heritage and Overseas Visitors Pass
Visitors to UK can enjoy free entry to over 100 heritage sites with an Overseas Visitor Pass. Briefly, the Overseas Visitor Pass is a scheme available to overseas residents who are visiting England for a specific time. The Pass is valid for a duration of 9 or 16 days from first activation and includes free entry to popular English Heritage sites such as Stonehenge and Dover Castle. For convenience, the benefits and the prices of the Overseas Visitor Pass scheme is dealt with in another article. To learn more about the great value for money scheme available to overseas visitors, navigate to Overseas Visitors Pass.
On a final note…
On a final note – the English Heritage membership is a great value for money scheme provided the benefits are utilised. However, if circumstances are such that you are not able to visit sites to cover the initial outlay, cherish the idea that your contribution goes to a good cause which benefits future generation.
Joining the English Heritage Membership scheme could not be easier. Whether you are signing up for yourself or buying the English Heritage membership as a gift, you could do so easily online with a couple of clicks. Click the graphic below and join today.
Take advantage of our Exclusive Readership Offer – Get 15% Off Gift and Annual Membership >> Use Code EH2021 at checkoutthroughout April 2021. Code can only be used for Membership purchases. Expires 30th April 2021.
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
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 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.
5 Rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London
A landmark of London, St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most visited attraction and it never fails to leave visitors in awe. There are many rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London from a stand alone entry ticket with full access to all floors to private guided tours so you get to know of its history from a knowledgeable source. However, for great value for money tours, you could always combine a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral with a visit to other landmarks in London. In addition, you could purchase London Pass over several days so you could explore London at your own pace.
Whichever way you choose to learn more of St Paul’s Cathedral, the following 5 rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral have been carefully selected to enhance and add value to your visit.
Entry ticket to St Paul’s Cathedral
Enjoy this famous landmark of London with a discounted entry ticket. This ticket gives you access to the Cathedral floor and its crypt, its three galleries, affording you panoramic views over London.
This option is suitable for visitors who wish to explore this beautiful Cathedral at their own pace. Nevertheless, 2 to 3 hours is recommended for a rewarding and immersive experience.
Combining St Paul’s Cathedral with other attractions in London
1 | Explore London on foot
Explore the City on foot and learn of London’s history. See 30 of London’s landmarks including the 1400 year old St Paul’s Cathedral.
This walking tour begins in Green Park, London and will take you through about 30 landmarks in London including:
Buckingham Palace | Trafalgar Square | Big Ben | Downing Street | Westminster Abbey | Whitehall | Houses of Parliament | London Eye | Shakespeare’s Globe Theater | London Bridge | Southwark Cathedral | The Shard | HMS Belfast | Square Mile | Tower Bridge | Tower of London
Your final stop is St Paul’s Cathedral where your guide will leave you to explore the Cathedral at your own pace. Entry to St Paul’s is included in this tour price
This tour takes approximately 6 hours and requires good footwear.
3 | Westminster + St Paul’s Cathedral Walking tour
This comprehensive walking tour takes you through the popular area of Westminster in London. Learn much from your knowledgeable guide before arriving at St Paul’s Cathedral where the tour guide leaves you to explore the Cathedral at your own pace.
Entry to St Paul’s Cathedral is included in this tour and is provided by our Trusted Partner, Viator, a Tripadvisor company.
4 | Enjoy London on a London hop-on hop-off bus tour
Design an itinerary on London and explore the city at your own pace with one of these great value for money hop-on hop-off bus experiences. Hop-on and hop-off as much as you like between six different bus routes for the duration of your ticket and explore on foot with free walking tours. See Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Piccadilly Circus, London Eye, Tower of London, and much more with this offer. This offer is subject to T & Cs as it depends very much on whether your purchase is for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
5 | Enjoy London with over 80+ attractions with The London Pass
Access over 80 attractions and one day of hop-on hop-off bus tour with this highly recommended discounted London Pass. Valid for the selected duration of 1 to 10 days (from first activation), the London Pass comes with a guide book packed with helpful tips, and maps, making this selection one of the many rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London.
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
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.
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 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.
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)
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.
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 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)
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.
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.
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 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:
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
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.
The Bloody Tower at Tower of London is one of the twenty-one towers that make up the Tower of London fortress and Royal Palace. It was not built to house prisoners but as events turned out, it became home to some famous high status prisoners. Tales of murder, mystery and ghosts surrounds this intriguing tower, making it the most notable tower in the Tower of London, earning itself the reputation as the “Bloody Tower.”
Historical background to the Bloody Tower at Tower of London in a nutshell
Built in the 1220s under the reign of King Henry III, the Bloody Tower is located on the south side of the fortress, facing the Thames River, adjacent to the Wakefield Tower. which was formerly home to the royal apartments.
When it was built, the tower was intended to control the main river entrance to the Tower of London. However, in 1280, under Edward I, the outer defensive wall was built which meant the entrance via the Bloody Tower was now land locked. Consequently, the tower’s entrance archway became the main access point between the inner and the outer ward with a narrow cobbled passage on the ground floor. The entrance archway is blocked by spiked portcullis, controlled with a lifting mechanism that still remains in operation today. The Bloody Tower, like many of the medieval era has both an upper and lower chamber.
The Tower underwent further expansions between 1360 – 1362 under the reign of Edward III but the most significant changes came in the 17th century when the prison Tower became home to Sir Walter Raleigh, his family and his servants.
Origin of the name ‘Bloody Tower’
The Bloody Tower was originally known as the Garden Tower, which was related to the Constable’s Garden. No one really knows how, why or what inspired the name ‘Bloody Tower’ but all research seems to suggest a strong association with the mysterious disappearance and supposed murder of two young princes in 1483. The Tower derived its name from the 1560s when it was believed that the princes were murdered. More on this below.
There were a number of prisoners at the Bloody Tower. Archbishop Tudor Cranmer, Bishops Ridley and Latimer, Protestant martyrs condemned to death in 1556 by Queen Mary I who was Catholic. Thomas Overbury, poet and courtier was poisoned in Bloody Tower in 1613. Judge Jeffreys died at the Tower in 1688. Amongst all of the prisoners, the most notable high status ones were Sir Walter Raleigh and the two young princes.
Sir Walter Raleigh
One of the most famous prisoner of the Bloody Tower was Sir Walter Raleigh. He was an Englishman, an officer, an explorer and a poet who fell from grace and was imprisoned by James I.
Raleigh had an inquisitive mind, a passion for poetry and science.
Raleigh was a prisoner of high status. He spent thirteen years here. The Tower was extensively renovated to accommodate his wife, his two sons and he was allowed three servants. He was given access to a courtyard outside the Bloody Tower. This was an opportunity for Raleigh to do his daily exercise and to cultivate a small garden in which he could grow some exotic plants that caught his interests while travelling in South America.
In his garden, he grew plants to create medicinal potions. Today, a visit to the garden at the Bloody Tower and you shall see plants such as mint, bistort and rosemary which Raleigh had used in his remedies.
Now, after 400 years since his execution, a visit to the Bloody Tower reveals a complex and a brilliant man, who famously introduced “potato” to English tables, and less famously, tobacco. It all appears that he was just an adventurous man whose spirit was crushed by imprisonment.
Sir Walter Raleigh was denied his liberty but not his comfort. He was assigned two rooms on the second floor of the Bloody Tower. His family could visit and he could grow plants. He was in captivity for thirteen years. During his imprisonment he wrote a book, “History of the World” which was published in 1614. Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded four years later in 1618 at the Old Palace Yard, Palace of Westminster.
Sir Walter Raleigh’s book, History of the World is available for purchase on Amazon as reprint or as cloud versions. Options below.
An Abridgment Of Sir Walter Raleigh’s History Of The World: In Five Books (1698) Paperback. 470 pages. Published 2010
by Walter Raleigh (Author)
This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world’s literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.
The History of the World Kindle Edition
418 pages. March 29 2016
by Sir Walter Raleigh (Author), C.A. Patrides (Editor)
Download the Kindle version or buy it in Hardcover or Paperback.
This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.
Princes at the Tower | Edward V and Richard Duke of York | Murder and Mystery at the Bloody Tower
Despite the many prisoners who had seen their last days in the Bloody Tower, by far the saddest and most gruesome of events that made the Bloody Tower infamous was the mysterious disappearance of the two young princes.
The two Princes, Edward V and his younger brother, Richard Duke of York – sons to King Edward IV were under the guardianship of their uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester who was their Lord Protector. They were brought to the Tower of London and was confined to the walls of the Bloody Tower. According to the Yeoman Warder tour I joined, the Princes may have watched from the top floor windows of the Bloody Tower the Coronation procession of their uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester, proclaimed as King Richard III when it should have been Edward V, the older prince. The two Princes were last seen alive in June 1483. Mystery surrounds their disappearance.
The two Princes, Edward V and his younger brother, Richard Duke of York – sons to King Edward IV . The two Princes were last seen alive in June 1483. Mystery surrounds their disappearance.
Photo credit hrp.org.uk
It is said that their disappearance is so because they were murdered in the late summer of 1483. There are conflicting theories as to who ordered their murders.
According to the traditionalists theory, it is believed that the Princes were killed on their uncle Richard’s orders. On the other hand, the revisionists argue that his successor, Henry VII had equal cause to remove the two Princes, as they stood as much in his path to the throne as they did in Richard’s. (Richard III was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 by the Lancastrian Henry Tudor, who ascended to the throne as King Henry VII.
About two-hundred years or so later since the disappearance of the Princes from the Bloody Tower, skeletons were discovered behind the stairs leading to the White Tower in 1674. These were later removed to the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey at the command of Charles II.
Georgina says: There are inundated stories of the Tower being haunted by the many poor souls who lost their lives here. One such story/legend is that the Bloody Tower is haunted by the ghosts of the two princes. It was reported back in the 15th century where the Tower Guards spotted shadows of two small figures gliding down the stairs in white night shirts. The figures were said to stand silently, hand in hand, before fading back into the stones of the Bloody Tower.
The skeletons were re-examined in 1933. It proved to be those of two boys aged about 12 and 10, the same ages as the Princes when they disappeared. The disappearance of the Princes still remains a cold case as to who was responsible for their death.
If you wish to learn more and delve deeper into the mystery of the missing princes in sinister circumstances, the following books either in print or cloud is highly recommended.
The Princes In The Tower by Alison Weir (2008-06-05) Paperback – 1 Jan. 1823
Avaialble on Kindle, Hardback and Paperback
The stories of the Bloody Tower, as are all other stories of prisoners in other accommodations within the Tower of London grounds such as the Queen’s House and the Beauchamp Tower are spellbindingly intriguing. Even though there are so many books, articles, blogs dedicated to the iconic fortress, palace and prison, it still holds many secrets, unsolved mysteries and ghosts that linger the grounds of the Tower of London. It is hard to keep away from the Bloody Tower, and the wider Tower of London, especially if you are a history buff. For visitors generally, the Tower of London reflects the journey of 1000 years of British history and it is a destination not to be missed.
I sincerely hope that this post is valuable to you in planning your visits to the Bloody Tower at Tower of London. If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Subscribe to join us at My Timeless Footsteps to receive all the latest news and events. As always, I am contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further info or to design your itinerary for you.
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.
1 | Scotland’s West Highland Line – Jacobite Steam Train in Scotland | Train Traivel 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.
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.
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 fromthis 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Open from 08:30am daily throughout the season (July-Oct 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.
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
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
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.
Practical information on Settle – Carlisle Railway
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
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
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