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Where did Anne Boleyn’s B necklace go?

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Some of Anne's pieces of jewellery - including her B necklace, A necklace and AB brooch - were passed on to her daughter Elizabeth, while others are thought to have been reclaimed by the crown and sold, or recut and used by Jane Seymour. Some people have suggested that the pearls from Anne's necklace are in the crown of Elizabeth II but I've been unable to find actual evidence of this claim. Others think that the jewels were sold and may have ended up belonging to members of the French aristicracy. Again, I cannot find any conclusive answers about what happened to them and I can only presume that they are lost.

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31 Responses to “Where did Anne Boleyn’s B necklace go?”

  1. Lady says:

    Where did you find that the necklaces and AB brooch passed on to Elizabeth?

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  2. Claire says:

    I think it was in Alison Weir’s “Henry VIII: King and Court”. Weir is of the opinion that Anne Boleyn’s jewellery was passed on to Elizabeth and that Elizabeth is seen wearing the A necklace in the famous Whitehall family portrait (at Hampton Court Palace. I’m not sure whether it’s just a jewelled pendant – need a magnifying glass! I don’t think there’s any real evidence what happened to Anne’s jewellery but it was normal for personal items to go to family and for Henry to take back what he had given her as Queen, to “recycle” and pass on to his next Queen!

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    Baroness Von Reis Reply:

    The neckles went around Claires neck. I do jest ,Claire but I see you wear it all the time it’s lovely!! Kind Regards Baronesss X

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  3. Dani says:

    I believe I found the family portrait you mentioned Claire. There is a close up of Henry, Edward and Elizabeth. The Necklace she is wearing is just a jeweled pendant. Here is a link to the page, the detail is the third image down.
    http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/henry8face4.htm

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    Christiana Smith Reply:

    Wow! I saw the picture, you are so right I do belive…..

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    Fleur Reply:

    The woman next to Henry is however Jane seymour herys third wife and the mother of Edward not Elizabeth, she is standing on their right..

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    Claire Reply:

    You can see a close up of Elizabeth in my article over at The Elizabeth Files – http://www.elizabethfiles.com/elizabeth-and-the-mystery-of-the-a-necklace/3846/ – but even in that close-up it is hard to tell that it is an A rather than a jewelled pendant. I have stood in front of that painting on a few occasions now and it is definitely an A, no question about it.

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  4. Meghan says:

    Actually Dani, the close-up is of Henry, Edward, and Jane Seymour, Henry’s third wife and Edward’s mother. Elizabeth is to Jane’s left.

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    Claire Reply:

    I think Dani was just linking to the actual painting which is also on that page, not the close-up. You can see a close-up of Elizabeth, who is on the right of the painting as you look at it, at http://www.elizabethfiles.com/elizabeth-and-the-mystery-of-the-a-necklace/3846/

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  5. David Harrison says:

    The famous “B” necklace in question is now being sported by actress America Ferarra on the ABC sitcom, “Ugly Betty”… Okay, maybe that’s just a reproduction.

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  6. briony peters says:

    The image you are talking of is not Elizabeth but Jane Seymour – it is really hard to Elizabeth in the portrait because she is smaller and far on the right

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  7. Eliza M. L. says:

    I’ve always hoped that the B necklace was passed down to Elizabeth, and that she wore the pearls but removed the pendant. Maybe it went unnoticed after she died, because it would just be a little golden “B” and another pearl strand.

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  8. Annie says:

    Did the necklace even exist? Because arent all the portraits of her with it made posthumously and thus possibly just artistic renderings?

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  9. Claire says:

    Hi Annie,
    The famous NPG portrait of Anne wearing her B necklace has been analysed and dated to the 16th century, probably late 16th century so it was painted during living memory. People during Elizabethan times would know what Anne had looked like and the fact that there are so many portraits of her wearing a B necklace suggests that it was something she was known to wear. In her book “Henry VIII: King and Court”, Alison Weir writes of how popular personalised jewellery was at that time and states that “Anne Boleyn owned at least 3 initialed pendants: an AB and a B, which appear in portraits of her, and an A, which is worn by her daughter Elizabeth in the Whitehall family group.” I have actually stood in front of the painting of “The Family of Henry VIII” and Elizabeth is definitely wearing an A pendant so we can only assume that it was passed on to her.

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  10. Elean says:

    I know it’s an old topic, but I’ll add away. Form what I understand is that on the crown owned by Elizabeth II there are three pearls on it said to be form a necklace owned by Elizabeth I. Maybe they came form Annes necklace? How knows, but that would be really cool.

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  11. Stephanie says:

    I wish her necklace had been saved and was on display somewhere. Can you imagine how it would feel to be able to look at the original necklace she wore??

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, I would get on a plane to London just to see that!

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  12. Fleur says:

    Yes that’d be just absolutley amazing Stephanie!

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  13. Katherine says:

    I am an avid historian and I too have studied this painting in great detail and Claire I am sorry to inform you but Elizabeth is wearing a similar necklace to that of Mary’s and Jane’s. It is thought that either Jane or Henry had the necklaces commissioned to make them look more like a family.

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    Claire Reply:

    I’ve stood in front of it a few times at Hampton Court Palace and it looked like an A pendant to me, Katherine, and looked very different to those on Mary and Jane.

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  14. Kcat says:

    I hadn’t known that about the “A” necklace in the family portrait. It seems strange that Henry would have allowed her to wear it, and preserve her image that way, if it represented her mother. Interesting site!!!

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    Katie Reply:

    The painting referred to was actually done after Jane seymore had died. She was never actually crowned queen. It is said that Elizabeth I wore the ‘B’ pendant in defiance to her father, who didn’t realise she was wearing it at the original sitting for the painting. It is also said that Elizabeth slept with a painting of her mother behind her bed!!

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  15. kelly says:

    i dont think that henry would have allowed elizabeth to wear annes neclace around him an curtainly not in a portrait surely???

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  16. Zoe says:

    If Henry dared to burn Anne’s portraits, wouldn’t it make perfect sense if he had her jewellry destroyed?

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  17. Lissa Bryan says:

    Does anyone lend credence to the theory Elizabeth may be wearing the “B” necklace in her teenage portrait? http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7055/6850557715_b632e9f70c.jpg

    In my opinion, the necklaces look suspiciously similar. Some differences, yes, but minor. Elizabeth wore her mother’s initial pendants in other portraits, so it wouldn’t have been unusual for her to wear one for this painting. Could the minor differences be due to the artist’s interpretation?

    Since the painting of Anne Boleyn wearing it was likely done in Elizabeth’s day, it makes sense that the artist would have seen the necklace in Elizabeth’s possession, rather than painting it from memory. Or, if he was painting it from memory, could it be the real necklace looked like the one Elizabeth is wearing and he just remembered it as being “B” shaped?

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    Claire Reply:

    The necklace in that portrait, when you see it from close up, is definitely not a B but a jewelled pendant. However, the pendant that the young Elizabeth wears in the family portrait is definitely an A – see http://www.elizabethfiles.com/elizabeth-and-the-mystery-of-the-a-necklace/3846/. Although it’s hard to see in photos of the portrait, I’ve stood close to it at Hampton Court and there’s no doubt that it’s the letter A. It makes you wonder if Anne’s B also got passed on to Elizabeth.

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  18. Dee Anne says:

    So there are no official documents or memos stating where the B necklace went? Was this necklace her property prior to her marriage to King Henry, when she was still a Boleyn? The Boleyn family had money, so maybe it went back to her family?

    I was surprised to find this site with others having a similar interest in her necklace. I wish I could see the original…

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  19. Thomas says:

    Virtually all of the jewels of royalty in those days became the property of the new monarch, unless specific bequests were made by the dying royal person. The new monarch still had the power to break the will, however. (qv. Henry VIII’s will about his son, Edward’s guardianship and the proper plan of succession.)

    If these pieces stayed with the royal collection, they would have been sold to the highest bidder when Cromwell broke up ALL the parapernalia. That is how some of the pieces got into the French collection. No English person would have purchased them, since such frivolity and ostentation was disallowed by the Puritan government. Charles II, at the Restoration in 1660, began the rebuilding of the collection along traditional styles, but with all new stones.

    Queen Alexandra (consort of Edwad VII) and Queen Mary (consort of George V) are largely repsonsible for the size of the collection today. Winston Churchill once referred to Queen Mary’s amble bosom as “Tiffaney’s shelf”.

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  20. evelyn scott says:

    dude who cares who got the necklace as long as it’s in posetion of a family member, although it would be a good thing if elizabeth got it.

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  21. Kelly says:

    In the Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett, didn’t she where a the B necklace when she portrayed a young Elizabeth? Just found this site, totally obsessed. It’s been long a rumor in my family that an elderly member researched out family tree way back and Anne Boleyn’s name was in the book. I’ve always loved Elizabeth and since then, I’ve been practically obsessed.

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    Kara M Reply:

    Kelly, were any of your ancestors Sheltons? My mother’s family are direct descendants of the Sheltons, and Anne Boleyn’s aunt married into the family. Her father’s sister, also called Anne Boleyn, married Sir John Shelton.

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