1: Hever Castle
Hever Castle was the Boleyn family home and although you can’t stay in the castle itself Hever offer accommodation in the “Tudor Village”, which was joined on to the castle by Lord Astor. There are 18 luxury rooms in the Astor Wing for bed and breakfast accommodation or you can hire Medley Court, a 4 bedroom 5 star holiday cottage.
2: Thornbury Castle
Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire dates back to 1510 when Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, was granted a licence allowing him to build a crenellate a house he was building on the site of an old manor house. He never completed the project because he was executed for treason in 1521 and Thornbury was confiscated by the Crown. The castle, which is actually more of a Tudor country home, was visited by Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII on their 1535 progress and the couple stayed there from 14th August to 22nd August.
The castle is now a luxury hotel and you can even book the room Anne and Henry stayed in, the Duke’s Bedchamber!
3: Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace started off as a manor that was acquired as a grange by the Knights Hospitallers of St John Jerusalem in the 13th century. This religious order eventually rented out the property and land, and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey obtained it on a 99 year lease in 1514 and began transforming it from a private house into a huge palace complex fit for a king. Wolsey built the palace to impress the whole of Europe and it was a wonderful fusion of Catholic iconography and Renaissance art and architecture, with an incredible “long gallery” which made use of terracotta.
The palace was so luxurious and “fit for a king” that when Cardinal Wolsey fell from grace in 1528, he lost both his properties at York Place and Hampton Court to Henry VIII. Henry and Anne Boleyn then set about implementing a programme of extension and improvement to get Hampton Court Palace just as they wanted it.
Hampton Court Palace has self-catering apartments available to rent. They sleep up to six people and are situated in Fish Court, the service wing of the old Tudor palace.
On 12th March 1539, just under three years after the executions of two of his children, Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire died at Hever Castle, the Boleyn family home. He was in his sixties.
Thomas’s servant, Robert Cranwell, wrote to Thomas Cromwell on 13th March to give him the news:
“My good lord and master is dead. He made the end of a good Christian man.”
Thomas was laid to rest in a tomb in the local church, St Peter’s Church, Hever. His tomb still survives today and is topped with a beautiful memorial brass showing Thomas dressed in the full robes and insignia of a Knight of the Garter, including the badge on his left breast and garter around his left knee.
His head is depicted resting on a helmet surmounted by his daughter’s falcon badge and his feet rest on a griffin. 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 decessed the 12th dai of Marche in the iere of our Lorde 1538.”
Notice that his date of death is given as 1538 because the Tudor new year started on 25th March, Lady Day, and not 1st January.
Drawing of Thomas’ memorial brass:
In April 1539, Henry VIII paid 16l. 13s. 4d. to his chaplain, William Franklyn, Dean of Windsor, “for certain oraisons, suffrages and masses to be said for the soul’s health of th’erle of Wilts, late deceased”, which is evidence that Thomas was back in favour at his death.
If you visit Hever Castle then do make sure that you also visit St Peter’s Church, which is situated on the green just outside the main castle entrance. There, you can see Thomas’s beautiful brass memorial, a 15th century brass for Margaret Cheyne, a simple brass cross memorial to Henry Boleyn, infant brother of Anne Boleyn, a painting by Tintoretto, a Tudor fireplace, and a stained glass window depicting the arms of the Boleyns (the three bulls).
The young Elizabeth was surrounded by Boleyn relatives:
J.L. McIntosh writes:
“The presence of these Boleyn relations and the evidence of Queen Anne’s interest in the material splendor of her daughter’s environment indicates that Anne, before her death, was an important, if indirect, early influence on the development of her daughter’s household’s culture. Henry VIII funded the household and had the final say in all important aspects of his daughter’s upbringing, such as when she was weaned, but it was Anne who was guiding the routine behavior and agenda of the household…The queen also may have begun to draw up plans for Elizabeth to receive a Protestant humanist education.”
Although Anne was unable to bring up her daughter herself, because she died before Elizabeth turned three, she made sure from the start that her daughter was well taken care of and had the appropriate household for a royal princess. Anne’s instructions to Matthew Parker, one of the Cambridge cohort I have already mentioned, is evidence that Anne was not just ensuring that Elizabeth’s spiritual needs would be met. She was also making sure that Elizabeth would have the connections she needed to become a formidable woman and queen. Anne’s influence was kept alive by those who surrounded the young Elizabeth.
On 26th April 1536, just days before her arrest, Queen Anne Boleyn met with her chaplain of two years, her “countryman”, thirty-two year-old Matthew Parker. Parker recorded later that Anne had asked him to watch over her daughter, the two year-old Princess Elizabeth, if anything happened to her. In other words, Anne was entrusting him with her daughter’s spiritual care. Eric Ives writes that this was a request that Parker never forgot and something which stayed with him for ever. Parker obviously came to be important to Elizabeth, because in 1559 she made him her Archbishop of Canterbury. This was a post which, Parker admitted to Lord Burghley, he would not have accepted if he “had not been so much bound to the mother”.
By getting Parker involved with Elizabeth’s upbringing and her future, Anne was putting her daughter into the hands of a man with important connections, connections with a set of men with humanist and Protestant ideals who would influence and help her daughter. This cohort included John Cheke, Roger Ascham, William Cecil, Anthony Cooke, William Grindal and John Dee. Three of these men – Grindal, Cheke and Ashcam – tutored Elizabeth, and Dee may even have spent time with the young Elizabeth. He certainly taught Edward VI and Robert Dudley. It is no coincidence that Elizabeth relied on these men when she became queen. Her mother had made sure that she was surrounded by men who could help her in the future.
Whatever the truth about Anne’s wish to breastfeed her own child, and go against the usual royal protocol and tradition, Anne was quite clearly pleased with and proud of her little girl. Courtiers were often embarrassed by Anne’s displays of affection for her baby and by her preference for placing Elizabeth next to her on a cushion, rather than shutting her away in a nursery. Elizabeth’s removal from court to her own household at Hatfield on the 10th December 1533 must have been a huge wrench for Anne. Even though it was just a few miles away, Anne would not have been expected to visit her daughter very much and, instead, would have been expected to get on with her queenly duties and to leave Elizabeth’s upbringing to Lady Bryan and her staff. Anne had to concentrate on conceiving again and providing Henry VIII with a prince.
We don’t know exactly how much time Anne was able to spend with Elizabeth, but we know the following:
At the end of the day, Henry and his council had the last word regarding Elizabeth’s upbringing, but the stylish Anne Boleyn involved herself in buying items for her daughter’s chamber and for her clothing. The Account of materials furnished for the use of Anne Boleyn and Princess Elizabeth 1535-36 by Anne’s mercer, William Loke, included the following items for Elizabeth:
We learn more about the Queen’s expenses in The Queen’s reckoning, beginning in December 1535. This account includes the following items for Elizabeth:
Anne obviously made sure that Elizabeth looked the part of a royal princess and Henry’s heir - also, being a trendsetter herself, she clearly had her own style and aestethics, and wanted this to show on Elizabeth as well.
We don’t know the details of Princess Elizabeth’s birth, only that she was born at 3 o’clock on the afternoon of 7th September and that she was named after her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth of York, and possibly also after her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Howard. The little girl had her father’s red hair and long nose, and her mother’s dark eyes.
The birth appears to have been straightforward; the baby was healthy, and so was Anne. However, the baby was a girl, and not the predicted son and heir. So sure were Henry and Anne that the baby would be a prince that a celebratory tournament had been organised and a letter announcing the birth of a prince had been written. The joust was cancelled and the word “prince” had an “s” added in the birth announcement letter, but it is easy to read too much into the cancellation of the festivities. As Eric Ives points out, the celebratory jousts were cancelled in 1516 too, when Catherine of Aragon gave birth to Mary, and it was traditional for the celebrations of the birth of a princess to be low-key. Although the joust was cancelled, Ives writes that “a herald immediately proclaimed this first of Henry’s ‘legitimate’ children, while the choristers of the Chapel Royal sang the Te Deum”. In addition, preparations were already underway for a lavish christening.
On 10th September 1533, when Elizabeth was three days old, she was christened at the Church of Observant Friars in Greenwich.
famous women and their actresses
Henny Porten in Anna Boleyn (1920)
Merle Oberon in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)
Elaine Stewart in Young Bess (1953)
Geneviève Bujold in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
Dorothy Tutin in The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)
Helena Bonham Carter in Henry VIII (2003)
Natalie Dormer in The Tudors (2007-2008)
Natalie Portman in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
anna bolena: uxor regis et regina angliae
♔ “Although Elizabeth’s gender was a disappointment to Henry, the magnificent christening that had been planned still went ahead, and she was proclaimed Princess, the title to the heir of the throne. For the first three years of her life, Elizabeth occupied a central place in her father’s affections, and Henry proudly paraded his infant daughter around court. But following her mother’s execution in 1536, Elizabeth was declared a bastard, and Henry neglected his young daughter. Initially, Henry scarcely saw his daughter, but would communicate with her by messenger, and Elizabeth soon proved to be the kind of daughter of whom any father would be proud. It was Henry who filled Elizabeth’s world, and in 1542, there was a rapprochement between Henry and Elizabeth, which utterly wiped out whatever resentments she may have harboured after her own earlier treatment, or that of her mother. In 1544, Henry reinstated both his daughters to the succession, and basking in Henry’s attention, Elizabeth referred to her him as ‘matchless and most kind father’. The following January, Elizabeth lost the giant of a father whom she revered, and upon hearing the news of his death, she and her brother Edward threw themselves into each others arms, and wept uncontrollably.”