What was Anne Boleyn’s favourite rose?

June 16 2024 | Garden History

It is impossible to say for sure what Anne Boleyn’s favourite rose/flower was, but we do have many clues and examples that suggest Anne was a fan of a classic red rose. It is also important to mention here that roses back in the 1500s in the UK would have been limited to the dog rose and French rose.

In her choice of heraldry, Anne Boleyn chose not the Tudor Rose but the separate roses of Lancaster and York springing up from the barren tree-stump (the Plantagenet symbol) guarded by the White Falcon. Here Anne is speaking both about Henry’s claim to both the Yorkist and Lancastrian line but also she is demonstrating that she is the guardian of that claim, with her heir securing it.

In 1527, when staying at Beaulieu, Henry VIII ordered for Anne “rings, bracelets, broaches, diamonds for a head-dress, diamonds set in true-lovers-knots, diamonds and rubies set in roses and hearts.”

At Anne Boleyn’s coronation the following paragraph from a verse was read in her coronation procession:

“Behold to see the Falcon white!
How she beginneth her wings to spread,
And for our comfort to taketh flight
But where will she cease, as you do read?

A rare sight and yet to be joyed,
On the rose, chief flower that ever was,
This bird to light, that all birds doth pass.”

In 1532, “19 diamonds set in trueloves gold, 21 rubies and 21 diamonds set in roses and hearts’ were ordered for Anne’s selves, along with matching jewelled billaments for a French hood.”

At the Palace of Greenwich in 1548 was “a carpet of gold, silver and silk needlework with roses of red and white, and Queen Anne’s ciphers with a border about the same with honeysuckles, acorns, ‘H’ and ‘A’ of like needlework, fringed at both ends.”

Finally, the portrait of Anne Boleyn in Hever Castle’s Long Gallery, presumed to have been created during her daughter Elizabeth’s reign, depicts her holding a red rose.