Anne Boleyn, ‘the late Quene’, from The Inventory of King Henry VIII

Background

The Embarkation of Henry VIII at Dover, a painting that commemorated King Henry’s voyage to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, painted in 1540

Six months after the death of King Henry VIII in 1547, a formal inventory of his moveable property was drawn up. The inventory took eighteen months to complete and according to David Starkey is more than simply ‘big and fat’ (which it is!), ‘it is also a key document for a reappraisal of the reign’ (Pg. x).

The commissioners task was to survey ‘all suche readie money plate Juelles apparel Silkes household stuff Stable stuff Muniction artillerye Tentes Revelles and other ymplementes goodes or Cattalles whatsoeuer.’ (Starkey, Pg. ix)

There are 17,810 items listed and among these are over two thousand pieces of tapestry and 2,208 pieces of plate! These items were often put on show to assert Henry’s great power and wealth. Henry VIII received foreign dignitaries surrounded by these royal treasures and at times made them accessible to the public.

King Henry VIII

In 1527, Henry VIII opened Banqueting House at Greenwich to the people and for three or four days they were permitted to admire his great hangings depicting the History of King David and also see the King’s sumptuous collection of plate.  Amongst the items on display there were,

‘Two great cupboards of plate, one of gold and jeweled vessels seven stages high and 13 feet long, and the other of gilt and silver plate nine stages high’ (Starkey, x).

I think Starkey sums it up well when he says that these were ‘all essential props of the theatre of magnificence.’

The inventory also shows Henry’s impressive arsenal and readiness for war. There are 2,250 pieces of artillery listed, along with 6,500 handguns in reserve in the Tower and a navy of seventy ships.

I purchased a copy of the inventory earlier this year because I was fascinated by the thought of owning a list of Henry’s personal belongings. What better way is there of finding out about how someone lived than by looking at the furniture, furnishings and household items that surrounded them on a daily basis.

I was also very curious to find out whether or not any items bearing Anne Boleyn’s badge or initials survived until the end of Henry’s reign. I am happy to share with you that some did!

The mere existence of such items 11 years after Anne’s death inevitably leads us to question why Henry would have kept such obvious reminders of the woman whom he forbade people to speak of.  I think that there is a strong possibility that the items were simply overlooked, after all Henry had a lot of possessions housed in a number of different locations.

Of course, I prefer to imagine that he retained something as a memento of the woman that he once loved and the mother of his daughter.

I wanted to share with you some of the items inventoried that bear Anne’s arms as a glimpse into the luxurious world that Anne and Henry lived in.

These are the items listed as definitely relating to Anne Boleyn.

There are many other items bearing the H and A initials or the name ‘Anne’ but without a date or reference to the ‘late Queen Anne’ it is impossible to know whether the commissioners were speaking of Anne Boleyn or Anne of Cleves.

For example, item number 1005 is listed as ‘one Barbours potte of siluer <parcell> gilt thandle crested hauing Quene Annes Sipher grauen in the lidde.’ (Pg. 37).

Similarly, item number 674, ‘one standing Cuppe guilt and wrought with Antique worke with a couer hauing H and A in the toppe poiz xxxj oz iij quarters’ (Pg. 29).

Unfortunately, we will never know for sure.

The original spelling was retained in the transcript and it is from this book that these entries are taken.

Anne Boleyn, ‘the late Quene’, from The Inventory of King Henry VIII

Item 178 (Pg 13)

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

Receaued at the Castell of Windesor the xxvjth day of July anno regni Regis Edwardi vj primo in the presens of Sir John Gate knight and Edmond Pigeon clerke of the kinges Guarderobe

Item one glasse of birrall garnished with gold with the late Queen Annes armes vppon the cover poiz glasse and all viij oz iij quarters.

Item 1046 (Pg. 38)

Flaggons and Bottelles

Item a paire of guilt bottells the feete and body chased in panes with braunches of twoo sundrye workes hauing the kinges Armes in a plate on the one side and on thither side the kinges Armes and tharmes of Quene Anne in a plate together hauing on either side An Aungell with a greate Cheyne and a small on either bottell theyr neckes grauen with braunches the knoppes or stopples hauing doble roses and therevpon Crownes Imperialls bought of Morgan Wolf vpon Newyeres daye Anne xxvij Regis Henrici viij

xxvij = 27 & viij = 8

Item 1134 (Pg. 40)

Candlesticks

Item three Chaundellors gilt with Sockettes like drones strikin with tharmes of late Queene Anne poiz together

Item 9219 (Pg. 192)

Item one Carpett of golde Silver and silke needle worke with roses of redd and white and Quene Annes Siphyres with a bordre abowte the same of honysocles Acornes H and A of like nedleworke frengid at bothe endes with a deape frenge and at bothe sydes with a narrowe frenge of venyce golde Silver and silke and lyned with grene Damaske being in lengthe three yards and in bredthe twoo yards scante.

Item 9226 (Pg. 192)

Item a Cusshion of needlework on bothe sydes with Silke and golde thonesyde with a traile of H and A of venice golde and venyce silver and honysocles and Acornes of silke and on thither side three roses white and redd with Queen Annes Cifers and worde golde and silver with foure buttons with Tasselles of venyce golde silver and silke being in lengthe iij quarters di of a yarde and one ynche and in breadthe di yarde and one nayle.

(iij quarters di = 7/8)

(di yarde = half a yard)

 

Honeysuckles and Acorns was Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s private motif. Read more about it here.

 

Item 12054 (Pg. 274)

Listed in the section

‘Hampton Courte. THE GUARDEROBE AT THONOR OF HAMPTON COURTE N THE COUNTIE OF MIDDLESEX IN THE CHARDGE OF DAVID VINCENT’

Item one Cheire of yron covered all over with needle worke all over wrought with silke and gold with the late Quenes <Annes> Sipher the post and blacke fringed with venice gold with foure pomelles of silver and gilte with the kinges and the <saide> Quene Annes armes in theym the Seate covered with clothe of gold.

 

Item 12162 (Pg. 280)

Listed in the section

‘Hampton Courte. THE GUARDEROBE AT THONOR OF HAMPTON COURTE N THE COUNTIE OF MIDDLESEX IN THE CHARDGE OF DAVID VINCENT’

Item one bedstead the postes heade & foote paces curiouslie wrought & carved with the late Quene Annes Ciphers and cognisaunces  painted walnuttre colour & parcel guilte having Celer Tester double vallaunces & iij bases of needlework wrought with silke & golde with the late Quene Annes Ciphers The Celer Tester and bases fringed aboue with venice gold lined with yellowe sarcenet & having vpon the saide Celer and Tester one great rundell bordered aboute garlonde wyse with the kinges armes & the <said> Queen Annes armes together within the same The vallaunces double fringed with a depe fringe of venice golde & red silke lined with saide sarcenet with v curteynes of grene damaske fringed on bothe sides and benethe with a narowe fringe of venice golde conteyning xvj breadthes of the same damaske and in depthe ij yerdes di quarter A counterpointe of clothe of golde embraudered all over with the said Cipher of other workes of grene and crimson vellat having a grete rowndell embraudred garlonde wyse with the kinges & the saide Quene Annes Armes in the myddes conteyning in lengthe iij yerdes iij quarters and in breathe iij yerdes di fringed aboute with a narrowe fringe of venice golde and lined with yellowe sarcenet one bedde of v breades of fustian filled with downe conteyning in length iij yerdes quarter one bolster of one breadthe di of fustian filled with downe conteyning in lengthe iij yerdes Two pillows of one breadth di a pece of the said fustian filled with downe and in length <one> yerd quarter di either of theym foure Quiltes of fine lynnen clothe filled with wolle conteyning in lengthe everie of them ij yerdes iij quarters and in breadthe ij yerdes iij quarters skante with ix beddestaves xij of wallnuttre colour parcel guilte.

The Inventory of King Henry VIII is an invaluable resource for any person studying the reign of Henry VIII. It is a way of travelling back in time and ‘seeing’ the king in all his glory and the man behind the legend.

The Inventory of King Henry VIII: The Transcript

Some of you may be interested in viewing two short videos, one about the inventory compiled in 1547 and the other about the Great Hall at Hampton Court and Henry VIII’s magnificent tapestries.


Fast Tube by Casper


Fast Tube by Casper

References

Starkey, D. (e.d.) 1998, The Inventory of King Henry VIII: The Transcript, Harvey Miller Publishers, London.

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Comments

  1. It makes me wonder – there seem to be TO MANY items related back to the late Queen Anne to just be ‘overlooked’ by Henry.

  2. Tracey Burdus says:

    A bit like reading a foreign language but still amazing to read about Annes personal belongings.

  3. It’s not just the sheer number of items but the size of some of these things as well. Take the tapestries for instance. These are so large, with obvious embroidery work. Don’t you think someone, if not Henry himself, would have noticed these things and at least brought them to his attention. If he really wanted to erase her from his life completely then I’m sure he would have wanted such blatant reminders disposed of.

  4. Cindy Brehmer says:

    I would think that if they say the “Late Queen Anne” it would pertain to Anne Boleyn since Anne was still alive after Henry died. Henry died in 1547 Anne of Cleves died in 1557. Or would the English term of “late” in those times be a meaning for former as in a former queen and not a queen who has died?

    • Hello Cindy, ‘late quene’ was referring to Anne Boleyn. The problem is the entries that just say ‘Anne’ or ‘H & A’ because these could be Anne of Cleves or Anne Boleyn. Thanks for your comment!

  5. I wonder if Elisabeth would have seen anu of these items eventually? And its interesting that so many of AB’s belongings weren’t recycled.

  6. Would Henry even have kept any of the belongings of Anne of Cleves when their marriage was over? She had her own household after becoming his “sister.”

  7. Anne Barnhill says:

    Ooops, I just wrote something but it didn’t go through-So, quickly, these are awesome articles and so very rich. I find that amazing–such a desire for riches and pride in showing them. Not exactly our cup of tea these days…I do think it’s wonderful that Anne’s things survived (at least a few) and I wonder if Elizabeth had much to do with these items? And did she protect them? Thanks. By the way, where did you get that book?

  8. What an interesting post, thanks so much for the info and the you tube videos…I really enjoyed them!

  9. I dont understand why those tapestries were being moved to New York, surely they belong to the english. Our county is the one that has kept them restored for 450 years and paid for by our county. And they supposed to be the most expensive item in the royal collection after the crown jewels of course. So personaly I think they should remain in there rightful place, in a royal palace. Nothing against Americans atall but i’m sure anyone else would feel the same.

  10. Cindy Brehmer says:

    I can understand how you feel, but this would give those of us in the states who are Tudor fans or researchers a chance to see something of that time period.
    Myself I would love to be there and have the real experience of seeing these items in their rightful place, but it is not going to happen for me or at least not while my service dog is living. I could not leave him here and I can’t let him be in quarantine for months. So this was a chance to see a small piece of Tudor history.

  11. The King's Bollocks says:

    I’m sorry, but the idea that Henry kept these things around for “sentimental” reasons after he deliberately had Anne murdered at the hands of a French swordsman solely because he had tired of her, is deeply disturbing and points to an evident psychosis, probably pathological . More likely, he simply couldn’t be bothered to disperse items of obvious value that hearkened back to the Queen.

    This is a man who killed his queen and declared his daughter with her a bastard — causing Elizabeth to live under that stigma for the rest of her life, in spite of being the finest monarch Britain has ever known. I have a low opinion of Henry and the Tudors in general; they stole the throne from the rightful Plantagenets and Henry murdered the last of them, the Pole family, in a fit of paranoid delusion. He probably just forgot he had things with Anne’s name still on them; if he kept them as a memento, it just makes him an even bigger monster.

    • Maybe he kept them as ‘trophies’ like some serial killers do!! :) to me he did seem to display some type of high functioning mental disorder/sociopathic traits around the fall of Anne, which escalated as his reign went on.
      Though I can’t see the Tudor Dynasty where any worse when it came to stealing the throne and ridding themselves of others that may be a threat to their rule than any of their predecessors.
      William the conqueror pinched it off Harold, and the Plantagenet’s where not innocent in this either, if I have my history right, within their own family, Son against Father, Brother against Brother, York against Lancaster, ending with Uncle pinching it of his Nephews. This has been the case through history even before England became under one rule,
      Times were brutal, and the slightest drop of ‘Royal Blood’, or not in some cases, seem to give reason to challenge the present ruler. And I bet every one of them had their ‘just’ reasons for doing it..God was on their side!
      I personally think the skill wasn’t in wrestling the throne of the reigning monarch, but in keeping the throne when they got it.

  12. Hi Natalie, my family is based in New Zealand and we believe we have a wooden chest which belonged to Catherine of Aragon – have you ever heard of her owing such a thing? Perhaps as part of her dowry? It’s quite intricately carved, seems to feature her heraldic coat of arms, and has pomegranate details everywhere. I think some Victorian copies were probably made, but this piece took a long journey from a US-based antique dealer a long time ago to NZ. Would be great to know if you’ve ever heard of or come across an object like this before.

  13. Gabrielle Crofts says:

    It seems I am descended from Henry 8th and his Mistress Mary Boleyn’s daughter Catherine, by Catherines daughter who married Baron Paget, I have always been obsessed sort of with Henry and Anne now I know why, its genetic lol. I love the fact Henry 8th had illegitimate kids that way his genetic ancestry is not dead. Catherine his illegitimate daughter with Mary Boylen, was apparently as she grew older, splitting image of Henry and thus although they were never titled , she ended up Elizabeth 1st closest friend and referred to as “cousin” but it was obvious she was a half sister and Henry her father and remarked how close to Henry she was with same red hair and features and Elizabeth loved her deeply she was positioned highly as her chief in chambers. Interesting her husband made Knight of Garter a mostly royal type appt, Catherine carey was clearly his illegitimate daughter. her daughter married my ancestor which is just awesome, their children are my ancestors so yes, its amazing. For appearances sakes Henry never officially claimed her or titled her, she was merely a girl and he was desperate for a son

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