Bolebroke Castle- Hartfield, East Sussex
Hidden away from the noise and pollution of main roads, on a 30 acre estate, stands the magnificent Bolebroke Castle.
Built in approximately 1480, Henry VIII hunted in nearby Ashdown Forest and used Bolebroke as his hunting lodge. The proximity of Hever Castle, only 8 kilometres away, also made this a perfect base from which to court Anne Boleyn.
Bolebroke is home to 16th century furniture and tapestries and one of the finest Elizabethan staircases in existence. It was also recently used as a location in the movie ‘The Other Boleyn Girl.’
The Henry VIII Experience exhibition brings the story of Henry VIII’s courting of Anne Boleyn to life.
For more information visit:
Hever Castle- Kent
The very mention of the name ‘Hever Castle’ immediately sparks images of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. This fairy tale castle, in the beautiful Kent countryside, was her childhood home but was not the setting of her birth as is so often thought.
The oldest part of the castle, built by William de Hever in 1270 as a defensive fortress, consists of a gatehouse and walled Bailey. In 1451, Anne Boleyn’s great-grandfather purchased the castle and converted it into a private home. When the Boleyn family moved into Hever in the early 1500’s they added a comfortable Tudor dwelling within the walls. Anne, together with her siblings Mary and George, is likely to have spent a good deal of her childhood here prior to being sent to join the court of the Archduchess Margaret in 1513.
In 1533, King Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn. But only a few short years later, had Anne executed at the Tower of London for Treason and adultery. Her brother George Boleyn, also perished under the executioner’s blade.
After Thomas Boleyn’s death in 1539, the castle became the property of Henry VIII. In 1540 he passed it on to Anne of Cleves as part of a very generous annulment settlement that also included Richmond Palace.
In July of 1557, Anne of Cleves died at Hever Castle aged 41.
From here the castle passed through the hands of several owners including the Waldegraves, the Humfreys and the Meade Waldos. In 1903 the American millionaire, William Aldorf Astor, purchased Hever. He went about restoring the castle, building the Tudor village and creating the gardens and lake.
Hever Castle is a must-see destination for all Anne Boleyn fans. Not only is it her childhood home, a place that would have held so many treasured memories for her but it’s also the home of two breathtaking Book of Hours both signed and inscribed by Anne Boleyn herself. The castle also houses 16th century portraits, furniture and tapestries.
The castle is opened daily until the 31st October.
For more information visit the Hever Castle website.
Lullingstone Castle- Kent
Lullingstone castle is one of England’s oldest family estates and dates back to the time of Domesday.
The present Manor House and Gatehouse were built in 1497 and have been home to the Hart Dyke family ever since.
King Henry VIII enjoyed visiting the picturesque castle, set within 120 acres of stunning Kent countryside, with his second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn.
For visitor information go to Lullingstone Castle’s website.
Sudeley Castle and Gardens
Sudeley Castle, near Winchcombe Gloucestershire, boasts royal connections spanning a thousand years. It was one of King Henry VIII’s Royal residences and in 1535 the King and Queen Anne Boleyn visited the castle. They were lodged in the Castle along with their immediate servants while other members of their entourage stayed at nearby Winchcombe Abbey.
Anne Boleyn saw the visit as an opportunity to investigate the relic of Holy blood at nearby Halles Abbey. It was alleged that in 1270 the Abbey had been presented with the blood of Christ and from then had become one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the country. But on further investigation it was discovered that the blood was in fact duck blood. Anne Boleyn informed King Henry of this discovery and he immediately ordered that the false relic be removed.
Following King Henry VIII’s death, his son, King Edward VI, granted Sudeley to his uncle, Thomas Seymour. Thomas then married Katherine Parr (Henry VIII’s 6th wife and widow) and moved into Sudeley Castle accompanied by their ward, Lady Jane Grey.
On the 30th August 1548, 36 year old Katherine Parr gave birth to a daughter, Mary, but died seven days later. She is buried in the chapel of St. Mary at Sudeley.
Chapel of St. Mary Sudeley
Thomas Seymour’s life at Sudeley was also short lived as on the 20th March 1549 he was executed for Treason and other crimes against the King and Crown.
William Parr then owned the castle briefly, the late Katherine’s brother, only to be stripped of his title and property after being involved in the failed attempt to make Lady Jane Grey Queen of England.
In 1554, Queen Mary gave Sudeley to Sir John Brydges, the Lieutenant of the Tower who attended Lady Jane Grey’s execution, and it remained in his family for the next 100 years.
Elizabeth I also visited Sudeley on several occasions and attended a magnificent three-day feast in 1592 to mark the anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
For opening times and visitor information visit Sudeley Castle’s Website.
Sources: Sudeley Castle Official Website
Thornbury Castle- Walk in the footsteps of Kings and Queens
Thornbury is the only Tudor Castle in England to be opened as a hotel. It is situated in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire.
In 1508, Edward Stafford 3rd Duke of Buckingham, obtained a license to build a castle on the site of the previous manor house. It was not designed to serve as a fortress and had only minimal defensive attributes.
Unfortunately, only part of the Duke’s grand plans for his new home were realised before his distant cousin, King Henry VIII, ordered his execution for alleged treason in 1521.
Following the Duke’s execution, King Henry VIII confiscated the Castle and in 1535 he and his Queen, Anne Boleyn, stayed at Thornbury for 10 days. Mary Tudor also spent time at the Castle as a princess and upon her death the Castle was returned to the descendants of the late Duke. Over the next two centuries the Castle lay unoccupied and fell into disrepair.
In 1824 the Howard family renovated the Castle and today it is a 26-room luxury hotel.
What is unbelievable is that visitor’s can choose to stay in the ‘Duke’s Bedchamber’ the exact room that Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn slept in during their visit! The octagonal bedchamber is reached via the original circular stone staircase, the exact staircase that King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn would have ascended when retiring for the night.
Duke's Bedchamber Thornbury Castle
Like an exercise in time travel, Thornbury Castle allows its visitors to walk in the footsteps of Kings and Queens, to lose themselves in the ancient yew-hedged gardens and enjoy the roaring fires.
Thornbury also boasts a stone flagged courtyard and the oldest Tudor gardens in England. If all this wasn’t sufficiently enticing, the Castle is situated behind St. Mary’s Church, dating back to the Norman period. A church that King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn are likely to have worshipped in during their 10 day stay at the castle.
For more information on this breathtaking Tudor Castle visit:
Tower of London- Coronation, Incarceration, Execution and Burial
Tower of London
When searching for a place to visit that has a strong connection to Anne Boleyn one cannot forget the Tower of London. Situated in central London, on the north bank of the River Thames, it has looked over the city of London for over 900 years and has served as a royal palace and fortress, prison and place of execution, an arsenal, and royal mint, a royal menagerie and jewel house. And it is here that Anne Boleyn stayed on the eve of her coronation in 1533- at the peak of her career. It is also where she enjoyed a number of coronation celebrations and feasts with her husband, Henry VIII, prior to her coronation. Contrary to popular belief, virtually nothing remains of the Royal Palace and Queen’s apartments where Anne Boleyn spent these memorable days.
In complete contrast to the days prior to her coronation, the Tower is also the setting for Anne’s incarceration and execution. In a terrible twist of fate, Anne Boleyn spent her final days and darkest hours in the same apartments that had played host to lavish celebrations and revelry only three short years before.
In Victorian times, it was claimed that Anne was lodged in the current day ‘Queen’s apartments’ but we now know that this is incorrect as the present day buildings were built a number of years after Anne’s execution. This information was circulated to meet a strong public demand to see and know the physical space where Anne Boleyn spent her last hours.
The Tower of London is also home to Tower Green. Here, a plaque marks the site of the scaffold where seven famous prisoners were privately executed. On the 19th May 1536, Anne was the first woman to suffer death by beheading for treason. She was followed by four other women: Margaret Pole the Countess of Salisbury (1541), Catherine Howard (1542), Jane- Viscountess Rochford (1542) and Lady Jane Grey (1554).
The Tower of London’s Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula is the final resting place for Queen Anne Boleyn. The chapel was rebuilt in its present form in 1519-1520 in the early years of the reign of Henry VIII and is also the burial place for some other very famous Tower prisoners including: Catherine Howard, Jane Grey, Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher.
After Anne’s execution, her ladies-in-waiting covered Anne’s head in a white cloth and wrapped her body in a sheet. They then carried Anne into the chapel, unclothed her and lay her corpse in an elm chest. She was then buried in an unmarked grave, close to her brother George Boleyn, in the chancel of the chapel. But in 1876, Queen Victoria agreed to restore the chapel and the remains of Queen Anne Boleyn were unearthed, identified and reburied beneath the marble pavement in front of the altar.
For all loyal Anne Boleyn ‘subjects’, the tower is a must-see destination. It is a chance to get as close as possible to the physical remains of this remarkable and courageous woman and pay homage to her life. It is also an opportunity to explore a space that would have once held such triumphant memories for Anne.
For opening times and other visitor information visit the Tower of London Website.
Thurley, Simon; Edward Impey and Peter Hammond. The Tower of London - Official Guidebook, 1996.
Ives, E. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 2004.
Berkeley Castle- Image Source
The same family has inhabited the amazing Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire for 900 years!
The castle was built in the 12th century to keep out the Welsh, it has arrow slits, murder holes and barred doors- all the trappings of a castle built for war.
Berkeley has played host to many key events in history: it was the scene of Edward II’s imprisonment and murder in 1327; the gathering place of the Barons of the West before they set out to their momentous meeting with King John at which the Magna Carta was signed and where England’s last court jester, Dickie Pearce, tumbled to his death from the minstrel’s gallery in the Great Hall.
The home has many royal connections and was a Royal Castle for 80 years in the 15th and 16th centuries (from approximately 1473-1553). It is even possible that King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed here after their secret marriage.
Anne Berkeley (previously Savage) was a lady in waiting and friend to Queen Anne Boleyn. She was one of the witnesses at the secret wedding ceremony between the King and Anne Boleyn on 25th January 1533 (some historians argue that the wedding ceremony took place on the 14th November 1532).
Thomas Berkeley was also a Boleyn ally and was created Knight of the Bath at Anne Boleyn’s coronation.
With these close connections between the Berkeley’s and Anne Boleyn it is highly likely that she would have visited the castle and indulged in the hospitality of her friends and allies.
An ancient castle dating back to the time of William the Conqueror- Windsor Castle does not immediately spark images of Anne Boleyn like the Tower of London and Hever Castle do but it is in fact a place she visited on many occasions.
Most notably, it is at Windsor Castle on the 1st September 1532 that Anne Boleyn received the title of marquis of Pembroke. It was a lavish ceremony witnessed by many members of the nobility. Whether or not Henry conferred the title on Anne as a way of increasing her social status so that her upcoming marriage to the king might be better received or simply as a ‘gift’ to Anne for having waited out the king’s long and painstaking divorce from Catherine of Aragon is not clear but I imagine it was a combination of the two. The following is an extract from Eric Ives’ The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn (2004):
If she was to meet him now (Francis I) as England’s intended queen, she needed status. This she was given at an impressive ceremony in Windsor Castle on the morning of Sunday, 1st September. There, her hair about shoulders and her ermine-trimmed crimson velvet hardly visible under the jewels, Anne was conducted into the king’s presence by Garter King-at-Arms, with the countesses of Rutland and Derby, and her cousin Mary Howard, the Duke of Richmond’s prospective wife, carrying the crimson velvet mantle and gold coronet of a marquis. Henry was flanked by the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk and surrounded by the court, with the officers at arms in their tabards and La Pommeraye as a guest of honour. Anne kneeled to the king, while Stephen Gardiner read out a patent conferring on her in her own right and on her offspring the title of marquis of Pembroke. Henry placed on her the mantle and coronet and handed her the patent of nobility, plus another granting lands worth 1000 pounds a year.
In the summer of 1533, after Anne’s coronation, Henry refused to go on the usual summer progress due to Anne’s delicate condition and so the newlyweds retired to Windsor where Henry could hunt and Anne could wait patiently for her confinement and the birth of her ‘son’.
Windsor Castle rightfully deserves its spot on the Tudor Trail and is an important stop on the Anne Boleyn journey. Windor Castle's St. George’s chapel is also the final resting place of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour.
For more information on visiting the castle visit: Sources: Ives, E. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 2004. Marsden, J. Winterbottom, M. Windsor Castle Official Souvenir Guide, 2009.
For more information on visiting the castle visit:
Ives, E. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 2004.
Marsden, J. Winterbottom, M. Windsor Castle Official Souvenir Guide, 2009.