Anne Boleyn’s Final Journey

Anne Boleyn, by an anonymous painter. Hever Castle, Kent.

Early on the morning of 19 May 1536, Anne Boleyn, resplendent in a grey damask gown lined with fur, made her final journey from the Queen’s Apartments at the Tower of London, where she’d been imprisoned for the last 17 days, to the site of the scaffold. Escorted by Sir William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower, and four attendants, she made her way past the now lost King’s Hall, the setting of her lavish coronation festivities just three years earlier, and, more recently, her and her brother George’s sensational trials, where the Earl of Northumberland had collapsed after giving his guilty verdict against the woman he’d once loved and hoped to marry. Anne continued her solemn walk through the Cold Harbour Gate, to the open ground north of the White Tower, where a French executioner awaited her.

Around 1,000 people had gathered to see the first English queen beheaded. Among the spectators were men Anne knew well, including her teenaged step-son, Henry Fitzroy, who had only a couple of months to live; Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, whom Anne had known since she herself was a teenager in attendance on Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor, in France, and Thomas Cromwell, who’d soared to power with Anne’s support but who’d later turned against her.

After addressing the hushed onlookers, Anne went to her death with the same courage that she’d shown in life. Following Tudor scaffold etiquette to a tee, she did not protest against the king or the terribly unjust sentence, ‘For according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore, will speak nothing against it… I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never, and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, and a sovereign lord.’ While Anne had not publicly protested her innocence, neither had she confessed to any great sin or wrongdoing, or admitted to deserving death for the crimes alleged against her. It’s what Anne omitted to say that spoke the loudest, especially to a Tudor audience, adept at reading between the lines. Anne Boleyn had subtly proclaimed her innocence, and news spread quickly around London that she’d died ‘boldly’.

Anne’s ladies covered their mistress with a sheet and carried her remains from the scaffold to the chapel of St Peter, within the Tower precinct, where they were placed in an elm chest and buried in the chancel, beside the remains of Anne’s brother George Boleyn. There they remain to this day.

Today marks the 481st anniversary of Anne’s death. 481 years since those ‘bloody days’, which broke the hearts and lives of many, as recalled by Thomas Wyatt in his poem ‘Innocentia Veritas Viat Fides Circumdederunt me itimici me’. The court turned their backs on Anne Boleyn, and on those condemned alongside her: George Boleyn, Henry Norris, Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton, however, they are not forgotten. Each year on this day, flowers are delivered to the Tower of London to lay on Anne’s grave and many people, including myself, commemorate her in some way. Funny that we can feel such a strong connection to a person that lived so long ago. In the preface to what remains the best full-length biography of Anne Boleyn, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, the late Professor Eric Ives described Anne ‘as the third woman in my life, after my immediate family’, a sentiment I completely understand. It’s been years now since I first encountered her, yet my fascination continues to grow, as do the questions. Perhaps the most perplexing, why did she have to die? Best left to a future discussion, except to say that I think the fact that Henry saw no other solution, and was willing to sacrifice the lives of men he knew well, is a testament not to her guilt, but to her sheer intellect and wit, and as Eric Ives described, her calibre.

There’s much to admire about Anne, like her intelligence and courage, and the fact that she fought for what she believed in and voiced her opinions in a century when women, especially queen consorts, were expected to be submissive and silent. She was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but who among us is?

To celebrate the life of this remarkable woman, and thanks to the generosity of my publisher, The History Press, I’d like to give away a copy of ‘Colouring History: The Tudors’ to one lucky reader. To enter, simply leave a comment after this post. Conditions of entry below.

Good luck!

Conditions of Entry

For your chance to win a copy of Colouring History: The Tudors, you must be subscribed to On the Tudor Trail’s newsletter (if you are not already, sign up on our homepage where it says ‘Free Enewsletter Subscription’).

Then simply leave a comment after this post between now and 24 May 2017. Don’t forget to leave your name and a contact email. Please note that I have comment moderation activated and need to ‘approve’ comments before they appear. There is no need to submit your comment twice.

This giveaway is open internationally.

A winner will be selected randomly and contacted by email shortly after the competition closes. Please ensure you’ve added to your address book to avoid missing my email.

Related posts:



  1. I love that colouring book, it seems so stunning<3

  2. Chele Kispert says:

    Thank you for the chance to win this book.

  3. Samantha Pierce says:

    Love Tudor history! Thank you!

  4. Zoe Morgan says:

    Tudor history is my passion. A few years ago I decided to start studying again to gain my History degree. I love reading your blog/Facebook posts. Grew up just outside London but now live in Wales. Two years ago I was lucky enought to go back to London with my family, where I took them to the Tower. I would not leave until I had visited St. Peter ad Vincula. My 10 yr old daughter loves history and quite often on our walks to school she will say ‘tell me about the Tudors mummy. RIP Anne, your words on the scaffold came true. Many of us who do meddle of your cause believe you were innocent.

  5. Great giveaway, wish i win this! ?

  6. Stella Davis says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to win this beautiful book. I was lucky enough to visit the Tower of London for a tour a few years ago and went into the chapel where Anne lays. Chilling!

  7. Agnes Szabo says:

    Working was hard for me today, my thoughts wasn’t there. They were around Anne Boleyn, a very special woman.
    Thanks for the chance to win this book.
    It’s beautiful, I would be so happy and lucky if I win it! 🙂

  8. Darlene Kaye Araneta says:

    This is the best and probably the most colorful visual introduction of Tudor History! I would really love to win this.

  9. Lise Bergeron says:

    Merci beaucoup pour ce concours !

  10. Stephanie Olson says:

    Many hearts weigh heavy today as we remember Queen Anne, a true queen and a queen to our hearts. May she be remembered on this day and never forgotten, may she Rest In Peace especially today. ???

  11. Anna Fay says:

    I will someday get to go to the UK and see the places I’ve only read about. I have always loved English History but the Tudors and most especially Queen Anne just spoke to me. And I am coloring obsessed. This book combines 2 of my favorite things! 🙂

  12. Sandra meneice says:

    My children would be missing their colouring in pencils for a while if i won good luck to everyone ?

  13. Jennifer Stewart says:

    Such ruthless times. I’d love to win a copy!

  14. Jennifer O says:

    What a wonderful addition to any Tudor book collection! Thank you for the chance to win it. Thinking of Anne on this day.

  15. Francis Bernath says:

    She was an amazing historical figure. She advocated for women to be educated and she was the mother to the greatest Queen England had ever known. She was truly remarkable. I will celebrate her by reading some wonderful poetry and literature today.

  16. Katheryn Bowsher says:

    I would love to win this! I have loved Tudor history since my early teens. This would be perfect!

  17. Cynthia Lyons says:

    Queen Anne was a bold women who will never be completely understood.
    Thank you for your giveaway.

  18. Lisa Fleener says:

    I ?? all things Tudor!!! This book would be a great way to relax & enjoy the era I’m so drawn to. I was able? to visit London a few years ago & the #1 spot on my list was the Tower. Being able to see Tower Hill & her grave was exciting & sad @ the same time. It was strange; as I felt as if I could feel her there. Anne is by far my favorite Queen.

  19. I’ve never had a coloring book that’s connected to history before. This should be fun, thank you for the chance.

  20. Ina Kraft says:

    Would love to win this amazing book ?

  21. Alicia Mae says:

    Thank you for the giveaway!!

  22. what a lovely opportunity. Two favourite things combined in one. Well done!
    Btw my late dog was named Elizabeth I <3 How much more Tudor nuts can you get?
    Best wishes

  23. Laura Hill says:

    Such a great article. I also will never cease to be amazed by this great woman. She in some way reminds me of myself. Would love to win this and am going to go searching for Eric Ives’s book

  24. Kristie says:

    It’s always great to see other history buffs join together and remember Anne’s death. May she rest in peace Thank you for the giveaway

  25. Krystal Sherman says:

    I would absolutely love to have a copy of this. I just love the era that the Tudors lived.

  26. Judith latin says:

    Would love to spread more history and the story of Ann Boleyn with my niece through the fun also of coloring in this lovely book.

  27. I have always been fascinated by this time in history. Thank you for the giveaway!

  28. Bonnie Gearty says:

    Today, May 19, 2017 is my 34th Birthday! I would love to win!!!!!

  29. Peggy McNiff says:

    What a lovely treat for a lucky person to win!

    Queen Anne was a woman who made her mark and great historical impact, in a time when most were ignored and forgotten. A fascinating character with a sad and unjust end.

  30. One of my favorite amazing ladies in history! Anne lives on!
    Thank you for a chance to win!

  31. Tammy Decker says:

    Would love a copy! I have been fascinated with Anne Boleyn since I was a girl. My dream is to visit London.

  32. It is such a great feeling knowing there are others in the world that admire Anne just as much as I do. She was such a brave and inspiring woman. To go what she went through takes so much courage! I’d love to win the book!

  33. Mindy Apel says:

    I wonder if banishing/exile as Henry VIII did with Katherine of Aragon was ever an option over beheading Anne? What a different history that would have been.

  34. Sally Catton says:

    I absolutely love the Tudor period , thank you for the chance to win this lovely book.

  35. Queen Anne was way before her time . Standing up for herself and others in a mans world . Love her !
    Love reading , On the Tudor Trail . Thinking of a bold, strong women today .

  36. Anne Reynolds says:

    I would love to win this.
    I also hope to one day make it to the Tower to pay my respects.

  37. Would love this!

  38. Gonnie K says:

    It sounds strange but this post made me tear up. I love how courageous Anne was. I would be so mad at Henry…
    Would love to win a copy <3

  39. Veronica Lynn says:

    Subscribed! I love your site!

  40. Samantha Long says:

    Would love to win this. What better way to celebrate Queen Anne’s life than with such a lovely tribute to her time?

  41. Ann Gerhart says:

    What a lady.

  42. Thank you for the giveaway!

  43. I never tire listening and seeing programs about the Tudor family. Queen Anne was a very strong woman, Elizabeths courage is a testament to that fact.

  44. Lisa Prince says:

    I believe Anne was a smart person and was aware of her talents. It must have been hard for her to “hold her tongue” and I believe that is what caused her downfall as much as lack of a son.

  45. the coloring book looks amazing. How fitting a tribute on May 19.

  46. Karin Carthew says:

    Sooooo excited to get my hands on this!!!! ??

  47. Barbara says:

    I love Tudor history. I would love to have this coloring book.

  48. I have enjoyed reading about Scotland and England. To see how Henry abused himself and others around makes for interesting reading. I am now reading about her sister (Mary) and many relationships with royalties.

  49. It must have been terrifying. Probably a lot easier being a peasant and eeking out a subsistence life growing pigs or something… Good post!

  50. Lisa Lombardi says:

    I think of Anne often and wish that I could have met her in see what she really looked like and hear her voice …I can’t imagine why King Henry lost his love for her. ..A woman he chased for years. I would like to know where Henry was while poor Anne endured her punishment. Did he secretly watch? Did he mourn her death at all? I would also love to talk to Henry …if only there was a real time machine. Good day to you all.

Leave a Comment