In October 1532, while on their way to Calais to meet King Francis I, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed for three days at Shurland Hall on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.
Shurland Hall was a Tudor palace owned by one of Henry VIII’s most trusted courtiers, Thomas Cheyne. It was built between 1510 and 1518 on the site of a previous 13th century castle.
Thomas Cheyne began his service to the English Crown during the reign of Henry VII and amazingly served every Tudor monarch thereafter. He was knighted in 1513 and was a favourite of Anne Boleyn who fought Cardinal Wolsey for his promotion in 1528 and 1529. Cheyne was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520 and served as an ambassador to France three times between 1549-1553. He died in 1558 during the reign of Elizabeth.
Cheyne was almost bankrupted by the cost of Henry and Anne’s visit in 1532. A visit from the king was a great honour but it also meant a visit from the 300 or so people in the king and queen’s retinue. Plus Sir Thomas himself had a staff of over 100 people.
We can imagine that Anne, newly created Marquess of Pembroke, would have been awaiting her upcoming meeting with King Francis with nervous anticipation. She was well aware that Henry planned to try and enlist Francis’ much needed support for their upcoming wedding.
These feelings of anticipation and excitement are all recorded in the fabric of the ancient walls and the well-trodden grounds at Shurland Hall making it an important stop on the Tudor Trail.
Unfortunately, the Palace fell into complete disrepair and all that remains today of this once grand Tudor Palace are the shell of the gatehouse and fragments of the great hall, where Anne and Henry would have been lavishly entertained during their visit.
With the help of the Spitalfields trust, what is left is being restored and there are plans to open part of it to the public with the rest being used as a private residence.