December 6, 2013

'In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn' Authors Guest Post: Boleyn Treasures

Over the last four years, we have researched and documented the many great houses, palaces and castles that have borne silent witness to Anne Boleyn’s dramatic story, and immersed ourselves in the life and times of this remarkable woman. It has been an intense, challenging and often emotional journey but one that has proven to be incredibly rewarding and insightful. We have lived and breathed Anne, and forged a bond that transcends time and space.

Blickling Hall in Norfolk. A Jacobean mansion now sits
on the spot where the manor Anne was probably born
once stood.
We've journeyed with her from her birthplace in Norfolk to her childhood home in Kent. We've braved the English Channel together, our skin bristling with the excitement and nerves the bright-eyed teenager must have felt as she first left English shores for the Continent, and the court of the Archduchess Margaret of Austria. We stood proudly by her side when her many accomplishments secured her a position in the household of the king’s sister, Mary Tudor, in France and remained her stalwart companions for the seven or so years that she served as a lady in waiting to Queen Claude, Francis I’s young wife.

We returned to England and to court with Anne and witnessed her spectacular rise to power, accompanying her to all the grand palaces along the Thames. We took to the open air with her as she trotted across the English countryside for each summer progress, revelled in her many successes and despaired at her heartaches.

We watched elatedly as Anne was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Abbey, fervently prayed with her for a son, before falling in love with her flamed-haired baby girl with the lively eyes. We attended her during her brief queenship, witnessed the bond bloom between mother and daughter, and watched in disbelief as Anne’s world was annihilated.

Not only have we walked in the fallen queen’s footsteps, and documented the buildings associated with her, we’ve searched for other tangible links to her past, and dedicated the last section of our book to those ‘Boleyn Treasures’ not housed in any of the locations covered in the guidebook.

Anne Boleyn's letter to her father, c. 1515.
For the most part, they are things that Anne would have seen or owned, like her first independent letter, written to her father, from the court of the Archduchess Margaret of Austria, where Anne was serving as one of eighteen filles d’honneur. The letter is now housed in the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and can sometimes be seen on display in the exhibition in The Wilkins Room.

Cambridge is also home to another spectacular reminder of Anne and Henry’s relationship. Henry VIII installed a magnificent organ screen in the chapel of King’s College Cambridge early in Anne’s reign, which contains many tantalizing symbols associated with the couple, including Anne’s falcon badge, the king’s badges and the ‘HA’ initials.

The British Library is home to Anne’s illuminated Book of Hours. The manuscript is in two parts; the first was made in Bruges and dates from around 1500, and the second was made in England in the second quarter of the sixteenth century. This manuscript is a real treasure because at some point, during Anne’s ownership, below a miniature of The Annunciation, she wrote a couplet to Henry VIII:

By daly prove you shalle me fynde,
To be to you bothe loving and kynde.

 To which Henry responded:

Si selon mon affection la suficnaire sera voz prieres ne scram yesz opic car je sus Henry Jamays [If you remember my love in your prayers as strongly as I adore you, I shall hardly be forgotten, for I am yours. Henry R. forever].

A page from Anne's Book of Hours.
The manuscript provides a rare glimpse into the private life of Henry and Anne and is one of only a small number of artifacts that survive, inscribed by Anne’s own hand.

Henry, again, emerges as a devoted and ardent suitor in the seventeen love letters he wrote to Anne during their extended courtship. Penned in the king’s own hand —ten in French and seven in English— they, ironically, ended up in the Vatican Library, where they are presently housed but not displayed publicly. It seems likely that they were stolen from Anne and sent to Rome during Henry’s campaign to obtain an annulment of his marriage to his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. Sadly, Anne’s responses have been lost or destroyed.

Another link to Henry and Anne’s romantic past lies in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle: a clock of silver gilt, partly dating to the sixteenth century, believed to have been a wedding gift from husband to wife. It is engraved with Henry and Anne’s initials, intertwined in a lover’s knot, and inscribed with Anne’s motto, ‘The Most Happye.’ The clock is not on public display, however, a replica can be seen on the mantelpiece of the inner hall at Hever Castle.

Not far from Hever, in the Great Hall of Knole House, you can see a pair of cast-iron firedogs (used to hold firewood in position), the tops of which bear the arms of Henry VIII, the initials HR and Anne’s falcon. These were almost certainly royal property and would have been found in the king or queen’s private apartments.

As we have seen, not all artifacts associated with Anne are housed in England. Stored in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow Museum is a section of a valance from a bed hanging decorated with the ‘HA’ monogram and Anne and Henry’s private motif, honeysuckle and acorns. You can read more about it here.

The "Boleyn Cup," said to have once
belonged to Anne.
Whether letters, jewellery, books or portraits, these treasures are immensely valuable, not only because of their age and rarity, but also for their power to transport us back in time. They offer a direct and tangible link between us and the past; between us, and Anne Boleyn.

Part 5 of ‘In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn’ provides a comprehensive list of artifacts associated with Anne Boleyn and includes information on where they are housed and whether or not the public can view them.

Dr Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger co-authors of In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn, published in September 2013. In the Footsteps is a guide book to all the places and artifacts associated with one of England’s most compelling and controversial queens.

Natalie Grueninger is a researcher, writer and educator, living in Australia with her husband and two children. She graduated from The University of NSW in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts, with majors in English and Spanish and Latin American Studies and received her Bachelor of Teaching from The University of Sydney in 2006. Natalie has been working in public education for the last seven years and is passionate about making learning engaging and accessible for all children. In 2009 she created On the Tudor Trail, a website dedicated to documenting historic sites and buildings associated with Anne Boleyn and sharing information about the life and times of Henry VIII’s second wife. To find out more about Natalie’s research and writing visit:

Sarah is also the author of Le Temps Viendra: a novel of Anne Boleyn, Volumes I and II. Le Temps Viendra is a fictional biography telling the story of Anne’s innocence through the eyes of a modern day woman, drawn back in time, to find herself in the body of her historical heroine as Anne Boleyn’s dramatic story unfolds from triumph to disaster and its final, heart-wrenching conclusion on the scaffold. Volume I was published in 2012, with Volume II due out before the end of 2013. To find out more about Sarah’s research and writing visit:

Thank you for following our virtual book tour!



  1. Thanks for hosting Elizabeth. Natalie and I have had fun writing the posts and it is with this one that we say a fond least for the time being. Best wishes, Sarah

  2. Beautiful words! Thank you for sharing! :)


  3. Very interesting post. Enjoyed following along on the tour. Can just imagine what it would be like to do in real life. All these treasures must really be exciting to see and knowing that they belonged to a very intriguing woman way ahead of her time. Thank you for sharing all this info with us =). Cannot wait to read this awesome book and add it to my collection.


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