Thursday, April 05, 2007

Question from Dru - Background on Anne's "B" necklace

I'd love to know if anyone knows the history behind Anne's famous "B" necklace? Beyond the 'B' obviously standing for Boleyn I can't seem to find any information on it. It seems so distinctive and has become one of her trademarks but where did it come from? Might it have been a gift or a family heirloom? Were necklaces like hers already fashionable or was Anne trendsetting again?

My thanks for any answers.
Dru

26 comments:

GarethR said...

There is no firm evidence on when she commissioned the jewels, or if they were gifts to her. It's noticebale, however, that they were the object of attention during her own lifetime, which suggests that they were innovative (i.e. that she was largely responsible for pioneering them.) We know that she also had a hanging broach which incorporated her full initials, 'AB,' into a gold and pearl design & an 'A' necklace, not dissimilar to the more famous 'B' one we see in many portraits of her. There's also the important fact that the initialled jewels were preserved by someone in her household and passed on to Elizabeth, suggesting that they were very much associated with Anne; there are a few mentions of Elizabeth wearing the jewels during her reign. After her death, in 1603, we don't know what became of them.

Sonya said...

In the book by Alison Weir, Henry VIII King and Court, pg. 192, she writes that "personalized jewellry was highly popular." ... "Henry VIII owned a chain with H's between the links..." She confirms that Anne had not only the "B" necklace, but also the "AB" and the "A" necklace as well. She also says that Anne's "A" necklace can be seen worn by Elizabeth in the Whitehall family group portrait.

PhD Historian said...

If I may add to this, I am aware of several necklaces with pendant initials in jewelery inventories from the 1540s and 1550s. That was, of course, after Boleyn was executed, but it suggests to me that she was following a common enough trend.

Mimi said...

I have read many books about her. And the B on her necklace supposedly covers up a large mole in the center of the neck.

GarethR said...

Alas, the myth of Anne Boleyn's moles, extra fingers and warts are just that - myths. R.M. Warnicke has convincingly proved that they are all false and even her detractors now conclude that the majority are invented. Any necklaces that Anne is painted wearing all have very thin collars - the "B" pendant in particular - none of which would be substantial to cover up a large mole and/or wart.

Wendy said...

My version :-)
http://www.gigicaron.com/vivat_regina.asp?path=neck_boleyn&thumbstrip=0

Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely sure how accurate this is, but I read somewhere that her necklace was a gift from her father, Thomas Boleyn. I would imagine that his aims would be to remind Henry that he was Anne's father.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know where the necklace is today?
P

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't destroyed along with so many of Anne's possessions, its kept well-hidden.

I want to see it.

Anonymous said...

It is owned by a far off descendant of Anne's, Canadian born woman in her 50's and married to one of the waspy patriarch's of NYC society (clue, in his 80's and lives in the snobbiest penthouse in the poshest co-op in NYC)....Before that dated for a decade one of the richest men in France....Know this due to knowing the woman for ages (best friend of my mother's) and there was a funny case in which she wanted portrait painted of her by a well known society portraitist wearing the B necklace yet he refused to paint her with it on since "it would distract from the portrait.....", Lord! Anyways don't know or never asked her why she would never wear it in public, its in a safety deposit box in London.....Can't mention her name or my mother will kill me literally. Enough jewelry gossipy chatter for today!
Cheers!

Anonymous said...

As per the necklace being in the hands of a far off descendant of Anne's, this cannot possibly be true. Anne had only one living child, Elizabeth, who had no children. Her blood line ended. She has no descendants. It is probably more true that this woman is lie telling to make herself look important. I can't imagine anyone having this necklace and nobody knowing about it.
Sorry to have busted your bubble.

Annie said...

That might be the funniest thing I've ever read. Indeed, someone trying to sound important. It's unfortunate the necklace was lost though... it is so prominent in the history of Anne Bolyen.

Anonymous said...

I think it is possible it was passed through her bloodline, but more so her family's bloodline. It may have been passed on to her daughter Elizabeth, and from there secretly passed to someone she trusted or one her cousins, Mary's children, and so on from there. If not Henry may have gotten hold of it, and since after Anne's death it is said that he never mentioned her by name, that Jane Seymour was his 'true' wife, he might have gotten rid of it in some way. It's sad that it was lost, it would be cool to see it in a museum or something. The saddest thing of all, is how Anne died, after her beheadment her head was raised by the hair to show the head and body the crowd, not the other way around as people would think, Anne would have been consious for at least 8 seconds after being beheaded until the oxygen was cut off, resulting in unconiousness and eventually death(i read this somewhere).

Anonymous said...

It's been recorded that she was blindfolded prior to execution. Why would they have done so if they intended to raise her head to show her the crowd?

Anonymous said...

yes, yes, indeed; you, my friend, are very correct. if they had or had not lifted the head of "the other Boleyn girl", as they call her, what would have been the need to blindfold her? if they were going to lift her head to show the crowd, they would not have blindfolded he at all; or perhaps they would have; to allow her barely-conscious mind some torture of hearing the rapidly-fading away voices that were her observers.

Anonymous said...

sorry, but i believe "the other boleyn girl" refers to anne's sister mary boleyn.

Anonymous said...

its funny xD
have u seen headline?
it says Background on anne's "B" necklace not her DEAHT!
then lets talk about necklace plz

Anonymous said...

It would make sense for the Queen to have the necklace; it is a royal jewel, and Anna hardly went anywhere without it.

Briony said...

when Hnery VIII sent Anne Boleyn to the block, it was said that he eradicated everything that was hers. Somrthing so prominant as the 'B' necklace would have surely been destoryed as was everything of hers. As she wore it and went everywhere in it this would ave been the first reminder to be lost ? It's such a shame. After asking this question, the case of the lost necklace I was too hopeful for an answer. Anee Boleyn is in fact my favourite queen and he rend was gruesome unwarranted and hideously conducted, for a modern mind. Does anybody know what happened to her & Nobles heads ? I read Katherine Howards was put on a spike with her alleged lovers. Is this so with Anee? Briony ... please feel free to email me, I would love to hear off anyone who has wider knowledge than I ... Which will be a lot of you I'm sure ! X
pottyboutpotta@hotmail.com

Briony said...

Damn. I appologise for typing errors. Also 'everything' was to broad what I meant was it was hidden at Hever or destroyed. Apparently ? Briony

Anonymous said...

maybe since she was arrested everthing she owned was kept from her in her state apartments where she had left them. Im guessing all her other clothing etc was destroyed or sold, so maybe the gold was melted down and pearls re-used. she didnt wear them for the execution so maybe they were destroyed in some way. makes sense.

Anonymous said...

oh and i doubt she had a wart/mole/extra finger because with so many superstitious people around, i dont think she would have come to court. and Henry, who was so picky about physical appearance would have found it repulsive

Neushan said...

Anne is buried with Catherine Howard at the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London. Queen Victoria was appalled when she saw the state of the chapel in the Tower and demanded it be restored and their bones be properly buried. When they started digging...they found over 1200 corpses as well. There is a memorial on Tower Green where they were executed as well as proper grave markers in the chapel.

x.lil.miss.chelsii.x said...

i found out about anne's "B" necklace Anne Boleyn's infamous B Necklace
SHE SAYS:
For the Tudor junkies, I found this beautiful B necklace over at the Anne Boleyn Files. I have to confess that I got my B necklace several years ago. (no surprise there!).

I was at a bar one night getting teased relentlessly by friends for being such a history geek. My sister bet me that no one in the bar would know the meaning behind my necklace. I took her up on her bet because even history geeks go to bars. Well, I lost the bet

Debbie said...

What happened to all the other necklaces in all the other portraits of Henry's wives.? I suspect the ' B' Necklace to be in the same place. As has already been argued it was a commonplace piece of jewellery, why then should it stand more chance of being hidden, passed on, inherited or whatever, more than any of the others? After all at Anne's fall no one could have anticipated Elizabeth's golden age. I love Anne Boleyn with a passion and would love to believe this necklace could one day come to life, but let's b realistic - there's more chance of winning the lottery!!

Sherrel Farnsworth said...

Anne's sister Mary had at least one son and probably a daughter as well with Henry while she was his mistress before Annes marriage. Both Henry and Elizabeth showed favor to those offspring under their reigns. If they werent Henrys children why would he do that as he was certainly not trying to curry favor with th boleyns aftr executing George and Anne on trumped up charges. Those children were Elizabeths half brother and half sister. Th necklaces could well have gone to them.