Tag Archives: Hever Castle

On this day in 1540 – the marriage between King Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves was declared annulled.

On 9th July 1540 King Henry VIII’s fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves was declared null and void. The marriage never got off to the best of starts when Henry first met Anne she did not recognise him and as a result Henry took it as an insult, things got no better from there and the despite going through with the marriage Henry never consummated the union, he was under the belief that Anne was not a virgin and therefore could not be his wife.

Shortly after their marriage Anne was sent to live at Richmond Palace where she was out of the way. During this time Bishop Gardiner had begun investigating the possibility of a pre-contract being in place between Anne and the Marquis of Lorraine. On 6th July 1540 a court messenger was sent to Anne to inform her that her new husband was having trouble believing that their marriage was legitimate and wished for her consent for a church investigation. Anne agreed to the investigation, after all she had heard what had happened to Anne Boleyn and she did not want to end up in the Tower of London.

On 7th July a convocation of the clergy was held and they agreed that the marriage was in fact invalid and they put forward three reasons for it the first was the alleged pre-contract between Anne and the Marquis of Lorraine, the second that Henry did not consent to the marriage in the first place and finally the union was not consummated.

With this news Anne was approached by messengers, acting on behalf of the convocation and the King, for her agreement for the marriage to be annulled. It was reported that Anne was so overcome with fright at the outcome that she fainted, after coming around Anne agreed to the annulment and signed herself no longer as Anne the Queen but Anne the daughter of Cleves.

Henry rewarded Anne for her cooperation in the annulment and along with addressing her as his ‘beloved sister’ he also awarded her £4000 per year, along with homes at Richmond and Bletchingley. She also received jewels, furniture and hangings alongside a house in Lewes and Hever Castle, the former home of Anne Boleyn.

Anne and Henry would go on to have a good relationship with Henry taking time to visit and invite Anne to court, which is more that can be said about Thomas Cromwell who lost his head for his part in the marriage negotiations.

Anne_of_Cleves,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_YoungerAnne of Cleves painted by Hans Holbein the Younger.

On this day in 1539 – Sir Thomas Boleyn died

Sir Thomas Boleyn died on 12th March 1539 after an eventful life in the Tudor court.

Sir Thomas Boleyn was born in 1477 at Hever Castle, Kent. Thomas Boleyn was born to Sir William Boleyn and Lady Margaret Butler. Not much is known about Thomas’ early life; it is suspected that he married Lady Margaret around 1498. The exact dates and order that the three Boleyn children were born in is still something that is debated until this very day but it is widely believed and backed up by Eric Ives that Mary was the eldest, born approx 1499, with Anne following in 1501 and lastly George born in 1504. It is believed that there were other pregnancies it can’t be said for certain.

Thomas Boleyn began building an illustrious career within the Tudor court that dates back to 1501 where he was noted to be present at the wedding of Katherine of Aragon to Prince Arthur. Boleyn was again entrusted with an important duty by King Henry VII in 1503 in which his daughter Margaret was to be escorted to Scotland for her marriage to King James IV.

In 1509 Boleyn was created a Knight of the Bath at a ceremony that celebrated the coronation on the new King, Henry VIII. This was the start of a relationship with the King that would bring him to such high power within the realm as well as a relationship that tore his family apart. At some point during these early years serving Henry, Boleyn was made ambassador to the Low Countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Flanders), here he met Archduchess Margaret of Austria and at some point during his meetings with the Archduchess he arranged to send his daughters to serve in her court.

For the next decade Boleyn fulfilled many roles within the court from acting as an envoy to the Netherlands in 1512 to acting as an ambassador in France between 1518 and 1521. During his time as ambassador to France Boleyn was heavily involved in the Field of Cloth of Gold, the meeting between Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France.

At some point during this decade his oldest daughter, Mary, had caught the eye of the King and became his mistress. There is no record of the relationship so we don’t know how long they were together or when. It was also rumoured the Henry was the father of one if not both of Mary’s children. Again there is no evidence of this and the King never claimed he was the father of Mary’s children especially as she was married at the time of the affair. However, in 1523, Thomas Boleyn was invested as a Knight of the Garter. Was this Henry’s way of giving reward to the Boleyn’s for his relationship with Mary?

In 1525, Boleyn had further honours bestowed upon him as he was created Viscount Rochford and further in 1529 when he was granted the titles of Earl of Wiltshire and Earl of Ormond. At the same time Henry’s desires had transferred to Thomas Boleyn’s other daughter, Anne. Was the honour being bestowed upon Thomas rewarding him for his years of service to the King and his father before him, or was Henry simply handing out favours to his new mistress’s family?

As Henry pursued his new mistress and his quest for an annulment from his current wife, Katherine of Aragon, he was becoming more and more surrounded by members of the Boleyn family, Thomas’ son George was handed the title of Viscount Rochford upon Thomas’ ascension to Earldom. Thomas was also sent as an envoy to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Pope Clement VII in an attempt to gain their allegiance for Henry’s divorce.

Thomas Boleyn’s success reached a pinnacle when in 1530 he was made Lord Privy Seal, one of the greatest roles within the council and when his daughter Anne finally married the King and was proclaimed Queen in 1533 it seems that Thomas Boleyn was almost untouchable.

As Anne Boleyn’s downfall began a few short years later so did Thomas’. He was ordered to be a part of the council that was set up to try and sentence the men accused alongside the Queen for treason and adultery. This included his son, George, as well as Anne. He was involved passing sentence on Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston and William Brereton. However, he was excused from passing sentence on his children and condemning them to death as traitors. He did witness both of their executions at the hands of the man he had served loyally. Thomas Boleyn forfeited the role of Lord Privy and retired to Hever Castle, his position was to be handed to Thomas Cromwell.

DIGITAL CAMERA                         Hever Castle – the family home to the Boleyns.

Although Boleyn had retreated to his home in Kent he still served the King and there are records of him helping to fight the rebellion in the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, just months after witnessing his two children die. It appears that Boleyn was slowly gaining favour with the King again as he was present at the christening of Prince Edward.

Thomas Boleyn died on 12th March 1539 from unknown reasons and was buried in St Peter’s church in Hever next to his home. Upon his death King Henry ordered masses to be said for Thomas Boleyn’s soul.