Anne Boleyn’s coronation was a four day celebration that culminated on the 1st June 1533 where she was crowned Queen of England. This day would mark the end of the years of uncertainty that Anne had spent hoping to be wife and queen to Henry she was also heavily pregnant with the expected son and heir that Henry had longed for.
On Thursday 29th May 1533 Anne was taken by river to the Tower of London from Greenwich. Fifty decorated barges left Billingsgate and headed towards Greenwich to greet the King and the future Queen. Eric Ives described the pageant as;
“Flags and bunting overall, hung with gold foil that glistened in the sun and with little bells that tinkled; the vessels were packed with musicians of every kind, and more cannon than seems safe on such a crowded waterway. The fleet was led by a light wherry in which had been constructed a mechanical dragon that could be made to move and belch out flames, and with it were other models of monsters and huge wild men, who threw blazing fireworks and uttered hideous cries.”
After rowing for two hours the pageant arrived at Greenwich for Anne to board her own barge to take her to the Tower of London alongside Anne were the ladies of her court. A second barge carried the remaining ladies with the King following in a separate barge with his guards. Ives believed that as the pageant set off for the Tower there was likely to have been 120 large barges and 200 smaller ones following behind.
Upon arrival at the Tower, Anne was greeted by Sir Edward Walsingham and Sir William Kingson, the Lieutenant and Constable of the Tower and taken to the King, who was observing the event in secret so not to take any focus away from his new wife. They were then led to the Queen’s apartments that had been newly refurbished by Thomas Cromwell in preparation for Anne’s coronation. Henry and Anne would remain here for the next two days.
On their second day at the Tower 18 men were created Knights of the Bath by Henry as part of Anne’s coronation celebrations. These men were
- The Marquess of Dorset
- The Earl of Derby
- Lord Clifford
- Lord Fitzwater
- Lord Hastings
- Lord Mountegle
- Lord Vaux
- Sir Henry Parker
- Sir William Windsor
- Sir John Mordaunt
- Sir Francis Weston
- Sir Thomas Arundel
- Sir John Huddelston
- Sir Thomas Poynings
- Sir Henry Savile
- Sir George Fitzwilliam
- Sir John Tyndall
- Sir John Germayne
On Saturday 31st May Anne left the Tower in a procession that was heading towards Westminster Hall. The procession was led by 12 servants of the French ambassador, they were all dressed in blue velvet with yellow and blue sleeves. Following the servants came the gentlemen of the Royal households, nine judges, the Knights of the Bath, the Royal Council and then the rest of the English government. Following all of this was Anne who was being carried in a litter of white and gold with a gold canopy held above her by the barons of the Cinque Ports. Anne was dressed in white and wore a golden coronet. Her ladies followed the litter and behind them were many more followers.
From the Tower the procession began and headed towards Fenchurch Street where she was greeted by children who were dressed as English and French merchants. From here the procession headed towards its next pageant at Gracious Church (now Gracechurch Street). It was here that Anne and the procession witnessed a Hans Holbein designed a fountain which homed Apollo and the Nine Muses. Red wine flowed from the fountain and the Nine Muses left their positions on the fountain to present gifts to Anne before the procession continued.
The next stop was Leadenhall where a castle was constructed that had the red and white roses at the top of it, from here a falcon descended and landed on a nearby stump where an angel crowned it. This was a recreation of Anne’s badge in her honour. Beneath the newly crowned falcon were representations of St Anne and her children, the three Mary’s. It was also here that Anne was read a verse written by Nicholas Udall;
‘ Honour and grace bee to our Queene Anne.
ffor whose cause an Aungell Celestial
Descendeth, the ffalcon as white as swanne
To crun with a Diademe Imperiall!
In hir honour rejoice wee all,
ffor it cummeth from God, and not of man.
Honour and grace bee to our Queene Anne!’
The procession continued to Cornhill Street where another fountain had wine freely flowing from it. Another pageant was awaiting Anne starring the Three Graces before continuing to Cheapside where two pageants were performed. The first saw the Recorder of London and his aldermen greet Anne and recited verses to her and also handed Anne a purse that contained a thousand marks of gold. The second pageant was the recreation of the Judgement of Paris where Paris of Troy was asked to judge who out of Juno, Pallas and Venus would receive a golden apple. However, as the day was all about Anne, Paris instead gives the golden apple to Anne and recited a short verse to her;
‘yet, to bee plain
Here is the fouethe ladie now in our presence,
Moste worthie to haue it of due congruence,
As pereles in riches, wit, and beautee,
Whiche are but sundrie qualitees in you three.
But for hir worthynes, this aple of gold
Is to simple a reward a thousand fold.’
The procession then turned and headed towards St. Paul’s Cathedral where three ladies were seated with a message attached to their heads that read ‘Regina Anna! Prospere, procede, et regna!’ They also spoke of a prophecy that the child Anne was carrying was a son and he would lead England into a golden age. Within the courtyard of St. Paul’s 200 schoolchildren read out poems and praised both Anne and King Henry.
The next stop for the procession was Ludgate Hill, near St Martin’s Church where a choir sang ballads from the rooftop of the church before moving to Fleet Street. In Fleet Street a castle was built with four turrets that stood virtues that promised not to abandon Anne and from the centre came music.
The procession then came to Temple Bar with another choir greeting Anne before it proceeded to Westminster Hall where Anne and her ladies were given refreshments and gave thanks to all those who were present. It was from here that Anne retired for the night with Henry in preparation for the following day. The chronicler Edward Hall recorded;
‘And so [Anne] withdrew her selfe, with a fewe ladyes, to the Whitehalle, and so to chamber, and there shifted her, and after went into her barge secretely to the kyng to his Manor of Westmister, where she rested that night.’
At 9am on Sunday 1st June 1533 Anne Boleyn entered Westmister Abbey dressed in her coronation robes of purple velvet trimmed with ermine and a gold coronet on her head. She walked a blue carpet from Westminster Hall to the Abbey where the golden canopy from the previous day was carried above her still. In front of Anne was the rod of ivory topped with a dove and the golden sceptre carried by the Marquis of Dorset and the Earl of Arundel. The Earl of Oxford, The Lord Great Chamberlain carried the crown of St Edward. The crown had only ever been used previously on reigning monarchs so for Anne to be crowned with it was a first. It was a way for Henry to prove to the world that Anne was his rightful Queen. Following Anne was the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk carried Anne’s train, her ladies and the bishops of London and Winchester.
As Anne entered the Abbey she approached the altar and prostrated herself (not something that was easily done at six months pregnant!) Archbishop Thomas Cranmer prayed over her and Anne took her seat on St Edward’s Chair for the ceremony. Cranmer crowned Anne as the anointed Queen of England and gave her the rod and sceptre before placing the crown atop her head. After the Te Deum was sang Anne exchanged the crown for a smaller, lighter one made especially for Anne and she took the sacrament and gave an offering at the shrine of St Edward. Throughout the ceremony Henry watched from a specially built hidden area as was tradition. Following a short rest break for Anne in a room set aside for her the procession began to leave the Abbey to go back to Westminster Hall. Anne was accompanied by her father, the Earl of Wiltshire and Lord Talbot.
Once back at Westminster Hall Anne retired for a short time while a coronation banquet was being prepared. Anne returned to the Hall and took her seat at the centre of the high table. Accompanying her was Anne Howard, Dowager Countess of Oxford and Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester their role was to hold a cloth in front of Anne if she wished to discard some food. At the end of the table was Archbishop Cranmer and at Anne’s feet were two ladies who remained seated for the entirety of the meal.
Once in place Anne was presented the first course of 32 carried by the Knights of the Bath. Once Anne had been served her first two courses it was time for the rest of the guests to be served in order of rank starting from the right hand side of the Queen.
After the meal Anne stood and washed her hands before moving to the centre of Westminster Hall where she was served wafers and hippocras by the Lord Mayor in a golden cup which Anne then presented to him as thanks for the effort him and the Aldermen of London had gone to. Anne then retired for the night and presumably reunited with Henry who had watched the whole thing in secrecy.
After the years spent waiting Anne was now crowned Queen of England but just 1000 days later she would lose that crown in the most brutal way.