Wednesday, 28 August 2013

English Ladies-in-Waiting

Sandra Byrd

Having close friends is an important part of most women's lives from girlhood through womanhood. These friends might be especially valuable when the woman's position is exalted, public, and potentially treacherous—such friendships take on an even more important role.

When Oprah Winfrey started her empire she brought along Gayle King. When Kate Middleton was preparing to become Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, her sister Pippa was her constant companion. And when Anne Boleyn went to court to stay, she took her friends too. Among them was her longtime friend, Meg Wyatt, who would ultimately become her Chief Lady and Mistress of Robes.

Ladies-in-waiting were companions at church, at cards, at dance, and at hunt. They tended to their mistress when she was ill or anxious and also shared in her joys and pleasures. They did not do menial tasks—there were servants for that—but they did remain in charge of important elements of the Queen's household, for example, her jewelry and wardrobe.

Elizabeth I - The Rainbow Portrait
They were gatekeepers; during the reign of Elizabeth I small bribes were offered for access to Her Majesty. The Queen was expected to assist her maids of honor in becoming polished and finding a good match; they in turn were loyal, obedient, and ornaments of the court. Married women had more freedom, better rooms, and usually more contact with the Queen.

In her excellent book, Ladies in Waiting, Anne Somerset quotes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Caroline as saying, "Courts are mysterious places.... Intrigues, jealousies, heart-burnings, lies, dissimulations thrive in (court) as mushrooms in a hot-bed." This is exactly the kind of place where one wants to know whom one can trust. Somerset goes on to tell us that,

At a time when virtually every profession was an exclusively masculine preserve, the position of lady-in-waiting to the Queen was almost the only occupation that an upperclass Englishwoman could with propriety pursue.

Although direct control was out of their hands, the power of influence, of knowledge, of gossip, and of relationship networks was within the firm grasp of these ladies.

Appointment was not only by personal choice of the King or Queen, but was a political decision as well. Queen Victoria's first stand took place when her new Prime Minister, Robert Peel, meant to replace some of the ladies in her household to reflect the bipartisan English government and keep an equal political balance. According to Maureen Waller in, Sovereign Ladies, Victoria was adamant.

“I cannot give up any of my ladies,” she told him at their second meeting.
“What ma'am!” Peel queried, “Does Your Majesty mean to retain them all?”
“All,” she replied.

Anne Boleyn
Keeping a political balance was a concern during the Tudor years too. Ladies from all of the important households were appointed to be among the Queen's ladies, though she held her personal friends in closest confidence. Queen Katherine of Aragon understandably preferred the ladies who had served her for most of her life right up till her death. Queen Anne Boleyn numbered both Wyatt sisters among her closest ladies as well as Nan Zouche.

Henry told his sixth wife, Queen Kateryn Parr, that she might, "choose whichever women she liked to pass the time with her in amusing manners or otherwise accompany her for her leisure."

Many Queens, like Elizabeth I, regularly surrounded themselves with family members, in her case, often those through her mother's side, hoping that they could trust in their loyalty and perhaps, like all of us, because they most enjoyed the company of those they loved best.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Resting Places of the Boleyn Family

Claire Ridgway

Claire Ridgway - author
I often get asked where the Boleyn family's graves are because some people want to go on a pilgrimage and pay their respects to the family who has captured their hearts and imagination. 

Unfortunately, the Boleyns are scattered. Although the family church, the Church of St Peter's, Hever, has a Boleyn (or Bullen) Chapel, only two of the immediate family were buried there.




Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn

Anne Boleyn: The Hever Portrait
Queen Anne Boleyn and her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, were 
both executed as traitors in May 1536 and were, therefore, buried as such in the chancel area of the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula (St Peter in Chains) at the Tower of London.
The English historian and antiquarian John Stow wrote in Elizabeth I's reign:
“Here lieth before the high altar in St Peter's Church, two Dukes between two Queens, to wit, the Duke of Somerset and the Duke of Northumberland, between Queen Anne and Queen Katherine, all four beheaded."

And it is thought that Anne Boleyn was laid to rest next to her brother, George, so he would have been buried on the edge of the chancel, near the North Wall. 

In 1876, when restoration work was carried out on the Chapel, the remains of “a female of between twenty-five and thirty years of age, of a delicate frame of body, and who had been of slender and perfect proportions” were found on the spot where it was thought that Anne Boleyn had been laid to rest. Next to her, were the remains of a man thought to be Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, and next to those the remains of another man thought to be John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, so Stow's words make sense. Doyne C Bell, who recorded the findings of 1876, stated that George Boleyn's remains were not found and that it was thought that “they may have been removed … or else they lie more towards the north wall”, where the workers did not dig for fear of affecting the stability of the Blount monument on the north side of the chancel.

Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula
After the restoration work had been completed in the Chapel, the remains found in the chancel area were “soldered up in thick leaden coffers, and then fastened down with copper screws in boxes made of oak plank, one inch in thickness. Each box bore a leaden escutcheon, on which was engraved the name of the person whose supposed remains were thus enclosed, together with the dates of death, and of the year (1877) of the reinterment. They were then placed in the respective positions in the chancel in which the remains had been found, and the ground having been opened, they were all buried about four inches below the surface, the earth was then filled in, and concrete immediately spread over them.”

It is possible to visit the Chapel and pay your respects to Anne and George in the chancel. You can do this by either going on a Yeoman Warder tour or by waiting until after 3.30pm in the winter or 4.30pm in the summer when the Chapel opens to the public. Unfortunately, the chancel area is usually roped off so it's not possible to get close to their resting places. You could of course go on a Sunday and worship at the Chapel; Holy Communion is at 9.15am and Matins is at 11am.
Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, wife of George Boleyn, is also buried in the chancel area of the chapel.

Jane survived the fall of the Boleyns in 1536 but was executed on 13th February 1542 for treason after she helped her mistress, Queen Catherine Howard, have secret assignations with Thomas Culpeper. John Whitcomb Bayley, author of “The History and Antiquities of the Tower of London”, wrote that Jane “accompanied her mistress in execution and in sepulture” and the Victorians placed her memorial tile next to Catherine's.

Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire

Memorial brass of Thomas Boleyn
The 12th century St Peter's Church, which is situated on the green just outside Hever Castle, is the resting place of Anne Boleyn's father, Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire. 

Thomas Boleyn's tomb is a must-see for Tudor history lovers and those who love memorial brasses. It is situated in the Bullen Chapel, which was added to the church in the mid 15th century by Thomas Boleyn's grandfather, Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, Lord Mayor of London. It is a large stone tomb topped with an incredibly detailed memorial brass. The brass depicts Thomas dressed as a Knight of the Garter with his daughter Anne's falcon crest above his right shoulder and a griffin at his feet. The inscription reads:

“Here lies Thomas Bullen
Knight of the Order of the Garter
Erle of Wilscher and Erle of Orm-
Unde Wiche Desessed the 12
Dai of Marche in the Iere
Of our Lorde 1538”

We actually put his death at 1539 but it was 1538 then because of the fact that the new year did not start until 25th March, Lady Day.

Elizabeth Boleyn (nee Howard)

St Mary's, Lambeth
The Garden Museum in Lambeth, near Lambeth Palace, is the resting place of Elizabeth Boleyn (née Howard), mother of Anne Boleyn. When Elizabeth was buried there on the 7th April 1538, it was St Mary's Church, not a museum, and she was buried in the Howard Chapel along with many of her Howard relatives. Her tomb is not visible because it lies underneath the wooden floor of the museum café. As Marilyn Roberts wrote in an article on the Howard Chapel: 

“It was the Victorians who recklessly demolished and rebuilt the church of St Mary-at-Lambeth, and showed no respect at all for its Howard burials, smashing their way through tombs and memorial tablets. The church was deconsecrated in the 1970s and was due for demolition when it was rescued almost at the last moment and became the Museum of Garden History (now the Garden Museum).” 
So we have the Museum to thank for the church actually still being there. 

It is not known why Elizabeth was buried at St Mary's rather than with her husband at Hever. Although there has been speculation that there was a breakdown in Thomas and Elizabeth's marriage after the fall of Anne and George, there is no evidence to support this theory. Norfolk House, the house where Catherine Howard spent part of her upbringing and the London home of the Howard family (Elizabeth's family), was just down the road from the church and Elizabeth died in London, at the home of the Abbot of Reading, so perhaps it was more practical to bury her at Lambeth. It also appears to have been traditional for Howard women to be buried at Lambeth in the Howard Chapel. It is reading far too much into the burial to take it as evidence of a marriage break-up.

Mary Boleyn

Mary Boleyn
Mary Boleyn was a bit of a mystery in life and she also eludes us in death because we don't know where she was laid to rest when she died in July 1543. It is possible that she was buried in St Andrew's Church at Rochford, in Essex. This church is near Rochford Hall, the property Mary inherited and which had been in her family since 1515, but there is no tomb or brass for her there and burial records don't go that far back. It would make sense for her to have been buried at St Andrew's if she died in the area, but it appears that her grave is lost.



Henry Boleyn and Thomas Boleyn the Younger

We don't know exactly how many children Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Elizabeth, had in all but we do know that they had two sons who did not survive childhood. One son, Henry, is buried near to his father's tomb in St Peter's Church, Hever. His tomb is marked with a small cross on the stone floor and the inscription reads:
“Henry Bullayen the sone of Sir Thomas Bullayen.”

Memorial cross of Henry Boleyn
Another son, Thomas, was laid to rest a few miles away in the Church of St John the Baptist, Penshurst. The village of Penshurst is also home to the historic Penshurst Place and the parish church is known for its beautiful Sidney Chapel, which is where, amongst the huge tombs and brasses of the Sidney family, visitors will find a very simple brass cross on the floor. It is identical to the cross of Henry Boleyn at Hever and the inscription reads:
“Thomas Bullayen the sone of Sir Thomas Bullayen.”

In her biography of Mary Boleyn, Alison Weir claimed that Thomas Boleyn the Younger had survived childhood and that his brass was marked with a death date of 1520; this is not true. Thomas's brass is undated and although the church guide book says that Thomas died in 1520 the author, David Gough, said that he had got that information from a previous guide book and didn't know where it actually came from. When I did further research into the memorial, I found that Mill Stephenson's “A List of Monumental Brasses in the British Isles” dated both Thomas and Henry's brasses to c.1520, which seemed a bit odd, so I contacted the Monumental Brass Society. The Society's Kentish expert replied, saying:-
Memorial cross of Thomas Boleyn the younger
“The Bullen crosses are two “one-offs” of the same design. There was a small workshop in Kent around 1500-1530/35 which produced some rather low quality brasses with a very debased script style. Most of them are listed by Mill Stephenson as “local”. The design was never a style, just a bit of Kentish localism. The earlier cross brasses of the fourteenth century in particular were of course high quality, mainly London work for priests. The Bullen examples are almost certainly to children.”

I checked my copy of Mill Stephenson’s “A List of Monumental Brasses in the British Isles” and it did indeed say “local” in its records of the two brasses:-
“Sm. cross (partly restored) and inscr. to Thos., son of Sir Thos. Bwllayen, c.1520, local, S.C [South Chapel]” – Penshurst
“Sm. cross (restored) and inscr. to Hen., son of Sir Thos. Bwllayen, c.1520, local, N.C. [North Chapel]” – Hever.

So, the Monumental Brass Society, who are experts on brasses, dated these brass crosses to 1500-1535 and believe that they mark the tombs of children. I think it is safe to say that “c.1520” was chosen as a date for Mill Stephenson's book and the church guide book because it was pretty much in the middle of this period. In the absence of evidence to back up the 1520 date and in light of the fact that the style of brasses suggest a memorial to young children, I believe that these boys died in infancy or early childhood in the early 1500s, they are certainly not mentioned as young men or adults in court records.

Other Boleyns

Here are the burial places of other Boleyn family members:

·         Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, is buried in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey. King James I arranged for a white marble monument to be built to house the remains of Elizabeth and her half-sister, Mary I. It is topped with an effigy of Elizabeth and bears the inscription, “Consorts both in throne and grave, here we rest two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in hope of our resurrection.”

·         Sir William Boleyn of Blickling, Anne's paternal grandfather, is buried at Norwich Cathedral. His tomb can be found in a recess on the south side of the altar.

·         Geoffrey and Alice Boleyn, Anne's great-great-grandparents and the parents of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, Lord Mayor of London, are buried at St Peter and St Paul Church, Salle, Norfolk, where there are brasses to them.

·         Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, Lord Mayor of London and Anne Boleyn's great-grandfather was buried in the Chapel of St. John, the Church of St. Laurence, Jewry, London, where he was joined by his son, Thomas Boleyn of Salle. Unfortunately, the church was destroyed in the 1666 Great Fire.

·         St Andrew's Church, Blickling, Norfolk, was the burial place of some of the Boleyn family. Brasses there include one for Anne Boleyn, daughter of Sir William Boleyn and aunt of Queen Anne Boleyn, who died aged three.

Notes and Sources

·         Bayley, John Whitcomb (1830) The History and Antiquities of the Tower of London
·         Belcher, W D (1888) Kentish Brasses
·         Bell, Doyne C. (1877) Notices of the Historic Persons Buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London, With an Account of the Discovery of the Supposed Remains of Anne Boleyn
·         Lough, David (2011) Guide and History, Church of St John the Baptist, Penshurst
·         Roberts, Marilyn (24 June 2011) More on the Howard Chapel and Norfolk House, Lambeth,  published on The Anne Boleyn Files
·         Stephenson, Mill (1926) A List of Monumental Brasses in the British Isles
·         Stow, John (1603) Annals of England to 1603
·         The Monumental Brass Society
·       Weir, Alison (2011) Mary Boleyn: The Great and Infamous Whore
Photographs by Tim Ridgway
Anne and Mary Boleyn photographs from Wikimedia Commons

Claire Ridgway is the author of several books on Tudor history:

The fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown 

The Anne Boleyn Collection: The Real Truth about the Tudors






On This Day in Tudor History.






To visit her Amazon page click here if you are in the UK.

And here if you are in the US.

Claire's webpage:  

The Anne Boleyn Files



Friday, 16 August 2013

Leicester, Cecil and those Pesky Scots - Part three

Linda Root

The Captain of the Castle:
The knight of Grange is a somewhat larger than life personality of a type that would have appealed to Robert Dudley.  Both of them were popular with the ladies, and both enjoyed being cast in the role of a warrior.  Both were avid Protestants but neither of them were bigots.   
Kirkcaldy had been one of the Castilians of Saint Andrews, a group which in 1546 stormed the Episcopal palace of Cardinal David Beaton, leaving Beaton dead and the Castle in the hands of a ragtag band of Fifeshire Calvinists, a group which eventually included John Knox.   
When the Scottish regent attempted to starve them out, Kirkcaldy was one of three men smuggled to England to borrow money from dying Henry VIII.  After their return, the castle fell to a French naval force. Kirkcaldy was sent to France as a prisoner and incarcerated in the water bound fortress of Mt. Saint Michel. Within a year he had not only managed a spectacular prison break but was soon riding to battle against the Emperor Charles V at the side of French king, Henri II, who dubbed him one of the ‘first soldiers of Europe’. At the same time, he was spying on behalf of young Edward VI of England with the stipulation that he would not betray Scots. During this episode he met King Edward’s knight Sir Nicholas Throckmorton and later, William Cecil, who would later become principal advisor to the woman then known as the bastard Lady Elizabeth.
 In 1557, adolescent Marie Stuart, who had been living at the French court since 1548 as the intended bride of the Dauphin Francois, issued Kirkcaldy a pardon and sent him home. Initially he became an agent of her mother, Regent Marie of Guise. On her behalf, he was dispatched on a mission to England to meet with the Earl of Wharton as and to deliver secret letters to Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox.  The Regent sought to enlist Lady Margaret to induce her husband Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox to return to Scotland to join her in her power struggle with those who opposed her pro-French policies. For decades Lennox had been feuding with the earls of Arran for the slot of Scottish heir apparent, but resisted the temptation of the Regent’s offer, probably heeding the counsel of his more intelligent wife. 
Not long after his return from his English mission, Kirkcaldy joined the rebellious Lords of the Congregation in arms against Marie of Guise, who was garrisoning the Borders and the Midlands with French troops and planning to entice one of her young brothers of the House of Guise to relieve her as Regent.  Many Scots, not just those who were of the auld religion, feared that under the Regent’s rule, Scotland would soon become the new Provence.  Kirkcaldy was not the only one in her circle who joined the opposition.  
The Regent’s stepson Lord James Stewart (later Moray) and Secretary Maitland also left her service and joined the rebel camp. Shortly after Marie of Guise was forcibly relieved, she died.  Her friend king Henry Valois had died the year before and was succeeded by his frail son Francois II.  The Queen of Scots was thus the Queen of France.  She planned to grant Francois the Scottish crown matrimonial, but before that could be arranged, fragile Francois II was also dead. The adolescent Marie Stuart found herself a Queen Dowager in a France dominated by a hostile mother-in-law Catherine de’Medici, who thwarted Marie’s efforts to secure a second European royal marriage. With encouragement from her half-brother Lord James Stewart, she elected to return to Scotland to assume personal rule of a country she had not visited in thirteen years and which had adopted Calvinism in her absence.  
As long as she followed the lead of her half-brother James and his friends, made peace with the men who had abandoned her mother, and resisted interfering with the new religion, she did reasonably well at it.  She was pretty, young, charming and vigorous and the people loved her, everyone but John Knox, who made her cry.  
Kirkcaldy pledged his loyalty to the young queen when she returned to Scotland in 1561, and fought beside her and her half-brother Lord James Stewart and the powerful Earl of Morton at Corrichie Burn. The knight had spent much of his youth at the court of James V, where Lord James was the favorite among the king’s sizeable brood of illegitimate children. He and James Stewart (soon to become Earl of Moray) were lifelong friends.  A decade later when Moray was assassinated, even though they had political differences, Kirkcaldy was the chief mourner at his funeral, which was presided over by Knox.  Like Moray, Kirkcaldy remained loyal to his queen until 1565 when she married her hated second husband Darnley, son of the turncoat Scottish Earl of Lennox whose claim to fame was that he had married Henry VIII’s niece Margaret Douglas and that he stood high in the Scottish succession.  
 Illustrations Wikimediacommons

About the Author 

Linda Root lives in Yucca Valley, California with her husband Chris and two giant Alaskan Malamutes. Root is a former prosecutor with more than 140 trials to her credit, several sufficiently newsworthy to attract the national media. Two were featured episodes of The Prosecutors and Arrest and Trial. She has taught research and writing at the law school level.

Since college, Root has pursued an avocation provoked by the duality of the historical treatment of the Queen of Scots. Following an early retirement she combines her expertise as a researcher with her love of Tudor-Stuart history to a quest to rediscover the Queen of Scots. The result is a series of stand alone but related historical novels beginning with the epic The First Marie and the Queen of Scots, a tale of Marie Flemyng, one of the famous Four Maries who had served the queen since they were five years old.

The second segment, The Last Knight and the Queen of Scots explores Marie Stuart through the fictional adventures of colorful and controversial William Kirkcaldy of Grange, Europe's first-ranked soldier who later became her last champion.

The third book, a work soon to be released, is The Midwife's Secret:Book One The Mystery of La Belle Ecossaise, a look at the stunning aftermath of the years of Marie's personal rule, imprisonment and death as it impacted the life of a young woman of mysterious origin, hidden in France. A fourth book coming in mid to late 2013 is The Midwife's Secret, Book Two, The Other Daughter, the adventures of the illegitimate child born posthumously to the knight of Grange, and her personal quest.

Book five, The Reluctant Countess, is in the early planning stages.and its tragic aftermath from the prospective of a Scottish expatriate sent to France as a secret agent of her son, James VI and I. Root is a member of the Marie Stuart Society and a regular contributor to the Marie Stuart discussion group, an in active member of the State Bar of California and numerous historical and indie writer forums.

Reach her on her Facebook page or at

Linda's Amazon page US:
Linda's Amazon page UK