I wrote this from the magical and enchanting Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I.
I can not help but be moved by Anne's story whenever I hear it but sitting here, in the castle gardens of her childhood home, her safe place, the place which held such good memories for her, its tragedy is all the more poignant. My wish for a different ending is ever stronger.
There is so much written about Anne that it would be impossible to introduce you to any new facts and so that is not my intention. In this 5 minute history fix blog I want to bring to life the human elements to Anne's story by picking three specific elements; her birth date, Henry's intentions and the speed of her downfall.
Anne was born in 1501 (some say 1507) probably at Blickling Hall, Norfolk.
This 6 year discrepancy has surprised many people - how can we not know when she was born?! There are two points to make. Firstly, her status at birth. We must remember that, at the time of her birth, she was not the person of significance that she would become. Secondly, the record keeping at the time. Nowadays we take for granted that a child's birth is recorded but the registration of births was not introduced in the UK until the 19th Century. Parish records go back further but only to 1538 when the recording of Christenings, Marriages and Burials was introduced as a responsibility of the local clergy in an initiative of Henry VIII's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell.1538 is two years after Anne's death. So, actually we could say it is not a surprise at all that there should be a question mark over her birthdate.
You can't help but wish for a differnet end each time you hear Anne's story!"
- Philippa Brewell
History Writer and History Tour Creator
If you love Anne Boleyn then our 'Anne Boleyn Experience' tour, ran in association with Claire Ridgway from the Tudor Society and The Anne Boleyn Files could be your perfect vacation! Click here for more details.