I recently came across a very interesting document called ‘Account of materials furnished for the use of Anne Boleyn and Princess Elizabeth 1535-36’. This is an itemised account, presented by William Lok, a mercer most employed by Queen Anne Boleyn (Ives, Pg. 217).
This bill covers the period from 20 January-27 April 1536 and includes items of dress for Queen Anne and the Princess Elizabeth, with a few articles for the court jester, Will Sommers.
The bill provides a wonderfully detailed account of Anne’s expenditure on costume for herself and Elizabeth during this three-month period.
Ives states that the total of ‘£124 15s. 2d., disagrees with the equivalent figure in the list of debts, £123 10s. 6d’ but might be explained by the fact that the end of the bill is missing and so its possible that a deduction was made that we are unaware of (Pg. 397). He also mentions that the bill contains errors but doesn’t go into any details as to what these errors are.
What I find fascinating about the account is that it paints a clear picture of the kinds of luxurious gowns that Anne wore and had made for her daughter. The notes at the end of the account are helpful when it comes to reading the account and defining some of the terms used.
Read the full account here.
Eric Ives in ‘The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn’ mentions some of the gowns:
This [the account] tells of Anne buying gowns in tawny velvet with black lambs’ fur, in velvet without fur, in damask, and in satin furred with miniver; a russet gown in caffa (heavy silk), two in black velvet, one in black damask, one in white satin and a second with crimson sleeves; a gown in purple cloth of gold lined with silver, and new carnation satin from Bruges to insert into the sleeves of a gown of tissue. There were eight nightgowns, two embroidered and another in russet trimmed with miniver; and three cloaks – of black Bruges satin, of embroidered tawny satin and of black cloth lined with black sarcenet – while Arnold the shoemaker had eight lots of black velvet to make shoes and slippers. Thirteen kirtles included white satin and white damask, black velvet embroidered and crimson satin ‘printed’, with matching sleeves. (Pg. 252)
As far as I am aware, no one has ever illustrated Anne’s gowns. How I would love someone to do so!
As for Elizabeth, who upon her death is said to have had 2,000 costumes, in the three-month period reflected in the account she was supplied with
‘a gown of orange velvet, kirtles of russet velvet, of yellow satin, of white damask and of green satin, embroidered purple satin sleeves, a black muffler, white ribbon, Venice ribbon, a russet damask bedspread, a taffeta cap covered with a caul of gold.’ (Ives, Pg. 253)
It is clear that Elizabeth inherited her sense of fashion from her mother.
Apart from being Anne’s mercer, William also ran errands for Anne during trips to the Low Countries.
William’s daughter would later recall how ‘Queen Anne Boleyn that was mother to our late Queen Elizabeth caused him to get her the gospels and epistles written in parchment in French, together with the psalms.’ (Ives. Pg. 273)
In a strange twist of fate, William Lok would later be called upon to help clear the Tower of London of foreigners before Anne’s execution (Ives, Pg. 217).
ReferencesIves, E. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 2004. Account of materials furnished for the use of Anne Boleyn and Princess Elizabeth 1535-36. Learn more about William Lok here.