Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Question from Karen - Fate of Anne Boleyn's clothing and jewelry from her execution

I love this site and come on frequently to read the Q&As, its a wealth of information.

My question is in relation to Anne Boleyns clothing and possesions.

Annes body was taken by her ladies and stripped and placed in the arrows chest after her death. What happened to her clothing and the jewellery she was wearing at her execution? Ive read that after executions that the officers of the tower would take items from prisoners to the king and they would be rewarded for handing them in. Would this have happened with Annes items too?

Also what would have happened to her clothing and possesions after her death? Would these have been recycled by Jane Seymour or would they have been distributed to her ladies? I cant imagine Jane Seymour wanting to be reminded of her predecessor by wearing her clothing. I know that her book of hours is at Hever.

Many thanks

[I don't think the first question has been asked exactly this way, but some of the second question has been addressed in the previous threads linked below. - Lara]







Roland H. said...

Just an opinion:

Although Eric Ives mentions that Anne’s corpse was stripped of any rich clothes she might have been wearing upon the scaffold, this is really just an assumption on his part. There is actually no mention of this practice at Anne's execution in any records. I think that after the deed was done, Anne was simply buried in the gray colored gown (noted in one contemporary decription) that she had on.

While it is true that the government did ‘reimburse’ William Kingston for possessions belonging to Anne (apparently it was the custom of the Tower of London to take possession of prisoners’ goods), and the billing for the reclaiming can be found in ‘Letters and Papers’ somewhere, it was for clothing,jewels, etc. Anne left behind in the Tower apartments, not on her actual person after death.

tudor princess said...

The "official" jewels which belonged to the Queen of England would have just been handed onto Jane Seymour (interestingly, in the Holbein portrait, Jane wears the same jewel as Catherine of Aragon). These, ironically were the same jewels that Catherine of Aragon refused initially to give up to Anne. Possibly some of Anne's personal jewellery may have been handed onto Elizabeth, as discussed in the previous posts.

The Tudors were great ones for recycling - a pomander chain that Elizabeth wears around her waist in the Scrots portrait, is worn as a necklace in a portrait some ten years later.

Clothes were too expensive to go to waste so I imagine Anne's clothes were re-made over for either Jane or others in the same way that Elizabeth's fabulous wardrobe was cut up to provide masque clothes for King James' court.

I agree with Roland as Anne went to great lengths to protect her modesty on the scaffold, by tucking her skirts around her ankles when she knelt down. To strip her in death would have been very cruel.

Sue said...

Obviously as most of this is guesswork because we have no contemporary report of what happened to Anne's clothing after death. There is something else to be considered. Recently I saw an arrow chest at the Mary Rose Museum and I was struck by how narrow the box was. Anne was known to have been slim and Chapuy even called her a "thin old woman" but that really brought it home. My feeling is that her dress must have been removed to fit her into that arrow chest. So I think as Ives said, she probably had her outer dress removed and was buried in her under chemise.