Spotlight on the Castle: Anne Boleyn’s Bedroom

Anne Boleyn portrait - Hever Castle
August 05 2021 | Attractions Castle History

The room traditionally thought to have been Anne Boleyn’s childhood bedroom is the first room you come to on the upper floor of the castle. A small, simple bedroom it features an original 15th-century half-doomed ceiling.

In 1898 the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) visited Hever Castle and left the earliest (and only) floor plan of the castle prior to Astor’s ownership. The plan of the middle floor clearly shows the location of Anne Boleyn’s Bedroom.

The earliest reference to a room bearing Anne’s name in the castle is Samuel Ireland’s ‘Picturesque views, on the River Medway……, 1793; in it he states that ‘the apartment in which she slept still retains her name’. This is reiterated by Edward Hasted in his ‘The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, vol III, 1797’.

Anne was probably born in around 1501 but, like many children (especially girls), her birth was not recorded. She certainly spent her childhood here; the castle had been the Bullen family home since her great-grandfather, Geoffrey, bought both Hever and Blickling Hall in Norfolk, having risen from humble beginnings to become Lord Mayor of London in 1459.

Geoffrey’s grandson Thomas (b. 1477) brought Hever to the centre of the international stage when, in 1498, he married Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. This was an advantageous match which made his three surviving children, George, Mary and Anne, related to royalty on their mother’s side.

The painting in Anne Boleyn’s bedroom shows Anne wearing her famous ‘B’ pendant and a daring French-style hood revealing her dark hair. There is a lot of speculation regarding the fate of Anne’s famous ‘B’ pendant, and it has been suggested that three of the four pearls in the Imperial State Crown once came from Anne’s necklace. However, there really is no way to prove this claim so whether they are or not remains a mystery.

She was intelligent and witty, if not traditionally beautiful. The Venetian ambassador said of her: ‘…not one of the handsomest women in the world. She is of middling stature, with a swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised, and in fact has nothing but the King’s great appetite, and her eyes, which are black and beautiful.’

Read more about the history of Hever Castle.