Rochford Hall in Essex is a manor house said to be where King Henry VIII first cast his eyes on a young Anne Boleyn. The Boleyns owned the home from 1515, a home claimed to be the setting of secret meetings between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. There are even rumours of a secret tunnel system beneath the home that King Henry VIII used as his discreet escape route from the house.
The manor was originally built in 1216 and in its 16th century form, comprised a turreted manor with moat and a great hall. The hall has been greatly altered over the years and is now privately owned and operates as a golf club.
Sir Thomas was created Viscount Rochford in 1525. The title referred to the “barony” of Rochford created in 1488 for his grandfather (Thomas Butler 7th Earl of Ormond). The title had fallen into abeyance as Ormond had died without any male heir in 1515.
Mary Boleyn lived at Rochford Hall with her second husband, William Stafford, after their marriage in 1534.
Mary died at Rochford Hall on 30 July 1543 and Josephine Wilkinson suggests that ‘logic would dictate that her tomb should be at Rochford’ (Pg. 177).
Unfortunately, there is no evidence to prove that Rochford is in fact Mary’s final resting place.
Very close to Rochford Hall is Saint Andrew’s Church. It dates largely from a rebuild in the 15th century and it is said that in the former church on the site, Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) married Mary de Bohun.
Wilkinson. J. Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress, 2009.