Anne Boleyn’s Final Resting Place

Anne Boleyn's Resting Place

Anne Boleyn's Resting Place

As you all know, Anne Boleyn, second wife and Queen Consort to Henry VIII, was executed on 19th May 1536 at the Tower of London after being convicted of treason, adultery and incest.

I’ve already written a blog post on her final resting place at the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London grounds, but I wanted to share with you the experience and wonderful photos of Paudie Kennelly, an Anne Boleyn Files visitor, who was lucky enough to visit the Tower of London on 19th May, Anne Boleyn Day, when we remember the execution of Anne.

I asked Paudie’s permission to share with you his photos and his experience, so here they are…

This YouTube video has been produced from Paudie’s beautiful photos:-

A visit to Saint Peter ad Vincula, The Tower of London – 19th of May 2009

I may be “Love’s greatest fool” but… ever since I first read of the wives of King Henry VIII, as a student in history class, the final words of Queen Anne Boleyn on the scaffold on Tower Green have stayed with me. Since then, I have had a wish to visit one day and to sit and reflect at the final resting place of a Queen who had achieved so much in a life cut so short.

With her last words, Queen Anne professed her love for King Henry VIII, her husband, who ultimately was the  instigator of her execution on trumped up charges,  as history would tell us. Such an expression of true Love had me looking at the page in disbelief and those words said by Queen Anne will forever remain with me and have my admiration.

I had read that a floral tribute was delivered every year anonymously, on the anniversary of her death,  to the Chapel of Saint Peter Ad Vencula,  her resting place in the Tower. This has always captured my imagination and this year I made the trip to see it with my own eyes. How my friends laughed, “going to London to see a bunch of flowers?” But to me it was much, so much more.

Anne BoleynI really did not know what to expect or how I would feel there. I found that The Tower of London was not as my mind’s eye had painted.  It was to be more than I could have ever expected, both visually and spiritually. The Chapel of Saint Peter ad Vincula is the place of worship for the people who are stationed at, and who live in, the Tower and it is suprisingly more modern in parts than I had expected. On close inspection, there is so much more to see – so much history within the walls of this little Chapel. Entry is only allowed as part of a tour group, so I joined in with a group, twice!

The Chapel is such a spiritual and peaceful place and I was very surprised to feel so at ease there, knowing of all those buried underneath and how they had met their end. It was not how I had expected to feel at all,  knowing the sad history and knowing that one of those souls resting there is Queen Anne Boleyn. I would like to think that kind prayers and fond thoughts by the countless visitors to this holy place have helped over many years.

To my amazement, Queen Anne is only remembered there by a simple nameplate. It is on the floor by the altar and on this stood the floral tribute of  red roses in a basket. The card simply said: “Queen Anne Boleyn, 19th of May 1536” – how my heart wished it to be more… However, there is also a brass plate on the wall near the door, telling of who is buried beneath the floor of Saint Peter’s.

A happy yet sad moment for me. I had wanted to see this for so long and yet sadness took hold of me, not only in my remembrance of Queen Anne, but how her final resting place is not befitting  to my understanding of her place in history and her achievements. While sad for this fact, I said some prayers for her and somehow got the overwhelming feeling that she is at peace.

On leaving Saint Peter’s,  I spoke to one of the Beefeaters  and he told me that he had been there 25 years and the floral tribute has been delivered on the 19th of May for as long as anyone there remembers.

Tower ApartmentsJust outside St Peter ad Vincula is Tower Green, the site that was used for many executions and the home of a memorial to all those who were executed just a few yards away. King Henry VIII had made apartments for Queen Anne on the far side of the green, prior to her Coronation, and they were befitting of the Lady he loved and would make his Queen. It was in those very same apartments, ironically, that she spent her last days in full view of the scaffold where her life was to be taken. The apartments would have been in front of her, as she knelt on the scaffold and died. What torture it must have been for her, seeing the scaffold being built from the very place she had prepared for her coronation just a few years before!

I retraced Queen Anne Boleyn’s footsteps from Traitors Gate, past the White Tower and up the steps to Tower Green – her apartments on the left and the Chapel of Saint Peter Ad Vincula on the right. I could only reflect on the bravery of this girl and how she must have felt walking through the Tower, having fallen from the grace of the King she loved so dearly. Nearly 500 years later, as I walked these steps, I thought to myself that she will always have the recognition of this admiring soul and that I am surely not alone as “Love’s greatest fool”.

I have been touched more than I could have imagined by the experiences of my visit on the 19th of May to the Tower of London and the Chapel of Saint Peter Ad Vincula, Queen Anne’s final resting place. I left there with much sadness in my heart, but, at the same time, I am glad to have had these personal experiences of my day in the Tower.

As long as people like me exist,  dearest Queen Anne, the good memory of you will surely live on.

May you rest in peace.

Paudie Kennelly


Tower Green Monument

During his visit, Paudie made a note of what is written on the monument in the centre of Tower Green:-

“Gentle visitor pause a while,
Where you stand death cut away the light of many days.
Here, jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life.
May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage,
Under these restless skies.”

A very poignant reminder of all those who lost their lives in the Tower grounds – including Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Jane Rochford (Jane Parker Boleyn), Margaret Pole and Lady Jane Grey.

To find out more about the Tower of London and to plan your visit, see www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/

21 Responses to “Anne Boleyn’s Final Resting Place”

  1. Melissa says:

    Wow Paudie what an amazing experience! I visited England a few years ago and was unfortunately never able to visit the Tower.

    Claire, I love your site.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Thanks, Melissa. Paudie has some photos of Hampton Court Palace too so I will be using them to make another video montage.

    [Reply]

    ipaud Reply:

    Thank you Melissa,
    Kind words indeed!
    It was nice to visit the Tower, especially on the 19th of May. I am so glad that I did. there is a “Henry the VIII expo on there in the White Tower at the moment also, very worth seeing.
    I have many other pictures, If there is a picture of anything you would like to see, I can send the pictures on to Claire and she can pass them on.
    If you ever get the chance again, go and see!
    I know that I will…

    Paudie.

    [Reply]

    Loretta Reply:

    Hello Paudie,
    It was a wonderfully written piece you shared with us. You’ve now put the idea into my head of going there as you did – not just reading all the books and because I live in Australia, not even thinking of going to these places.
    Was it difficult to get into the tour group on May 19? How far ahead would you suggest planning such a trip?
    Oh, and has anyone else read a recent book by historian George Bernard claiming that Anne WAS guilty? Does anyone have thoughts on it?
    Apart from quite a few points, I just thought it was strange when reading it that the author never mentioned how the executioner must have been sent for well before the trial etc..
    Well, thanks again:)

    [Reply]

    Linda Joyce Reply:

    Do you know Loretta, that idea of sending for the swordsman must have been so well planned? Well spotted. So, Henry really did have no intention of proceeding with the trip to France with Anne?

    Lady Brooke Reply:

    Wow Paudie
    That was an amazingly written work of art. I love how you let all of your senses and feelings pour out. It was absolutely stunning. I’m another person who loves the Tudor era, but absolutely love Anne Boleyn. You let your mind and body experience everything while letting your spirit guide you through and that is amazing. My wish is to see it first hand someday as well, but that was so well written I was able to close my eyes and imagine it a little. Thank you so much for sharing that, and I find it completely fascinating that the flowers are there every year, I did not know that. You walked around taking in all that beauty, and I know that they refur Katherine of Aragon as the queen of hearts, but I believe Anne was as well. Thank you for sharing that amazing story, and Claire thanks again for always bringing beauty and truth.
    Brooke

    [Reply]

  2. Emma says:

    What is the direct link to the YouTube video? Embedded videos never work for me here, thanks to my fussy connection. I can only view them on YT. Thanks!

    I’m so glad this account was posted. I want to visit there someday, though it is a shame you can only go in with a tour. I had seen photos of her burial marker before, but the angle of the photo at the top shows just how inconspicuous it is. You could walk over it and not even know.

    [Reply]

    Claire Reply:

    Hi Emma,

    The URL for the video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwfEIlflD2M. Yes, it is very inconspicuous isn’t it, just a tile on the floor!

    [Reply]

  3. Paul says:

    I was at the Tower barely a month after the above photos were taken.

    Well, mine look very similar except…
    how were you able to take photos inside the Chapel? The Beefeater (with a look that could kill) politely told me to remove my baseball hat inside. Then he infomed us that anyone taking photos in the Chapel would be hanged, then drawn and quartered.

    That would have made me the first person to suffer that fate since 1992, when the poor fool who started the big fire at Windsor Castle was dealt with.

    Oh, an interesting aside, Julia Fox, in her book “Jane Boleyn” says that the memorial on the Tower Green where Anne was executed is actually in the wrong place!!!

    [Reply]

  4. Claire says:

    I’m not sure how Paudie managed to took photos, I think he asked permission. The memorial on Tower Green is to all those who were executed at the Tower of London and the majority of those were executed on Tower Green. Cromwell ordered Kingston to arrange Anne’s execution for inside the Tower walls to keep it more private. Glad you didn’t get hanged, drawn and quartered, Paul!

    [Reply]

  5. Sharon Miner says:

    i can only imagine the emotions you were feeling as you were retracing her final steps. i too, have been a great admirer of Anne Bolyen and would love to make the same journey that you have made. Thank you for sharing your adventure with everyone.

    [Reply]

  6. Nancy says:

    There is another way to visit St. Peter ad Vincula other than during a Beefeater tour. Visitors can attend Sunday services there. You just have to go to the main gate and tell the guard that you want to go to the church services. I attend services there every Sunday that I am in London – when the Chaplain sees me he comments that I must be here on my annual visit. Communion is held at 9:15 am, and then there is a sermon at 11:00 am. I have also attended Christmas Eve and Easter services there, and I never fail to be touched by the little Chapel. I have attended both services, and I find that the 11:00 service was crowded while there were less than 10 people at the communion service (maybe that was just the way it was when I attended 11:00 services, but I know that the 9:15 service is rarely crowded). It is much more peaceful and you get the “feel” of the Chapel when there aren’t as many people.) I plan to go to the May 16 and May 23 communion services there, so maybe I’ll see some of you! Like Paudie, I have visited the Tower and St. Peter ad Vincula on May 19, and it is even more touching. (The only difference is that Paudie came from Ireland and I came from the States – I have had my sanity questioned several times).

    [Reply]

  7. Ashlee James says:

    So encouraging to see that I’m not alone in my love for the Queen

    [Reply]

  8. Trish says:

    Beautiful photos and video!! I myself have been to the Tower of London and was brought to tears by the Tower Green monument. So beautiful and so true! So many lives cut short unjustly. RIP Anne!

    [Reply]

  9. Holly says:

    Of all the great Queens of England, including the present Queen, Queen Anne Boleyn has to be my most loved and I hope she knows what an effect her story has had on so many lives. Of course my love in also strong for the great Catherine Parr, Catherine Howard, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Catherine of Aragon. God bless every queen of England especially Anne Boleyn.

    [Reply]

  10. LInda says:

    I read your piece on your visit to Anne Boleyn’s resting place. Thank you for writing it and sharing it. I too am so very touched by her. I often wonder if she knows what an amaizing daughter she had and how her life has touched us 500 years later. I only wish I could visit the site. It was nice to have this to relate to. May she rest always in peace and know that we love her.

    Linda
    Colorado
    USA

    [Reply]

  11. linda wray says:

    sorry….Ministry of Works, not English Heritage…….

    [Reply]

  12. Stuart says:

    Nice piece of writing. I live across the river from The Tower of London – it is literally minutes away. Every time i drive or walk past it i think of Anne Boleyn

    [Reply]

  13. Juliane says:

    That basket of roses and that tile is so much Anne. If it could help those who visit the chapel to find a smiling peace there, and to know the presence of heaven and God… Those who know or who have known a grave injustice in their own lives would be comforted to see that it is possible to stand in courage and forgiveness,
    in the face of what unfairness was suffered. She is at peace now, and very happy with all the love she’s getting… What a lovely little basket!

    [Reply]

  14. Ann Wilson Fisher says:

    REST IN PEACE, I place a rose

    [Reply]

  15. Kitty says:

    I’ve only just started high school and I’m literally obsessed with Anne Boleyn! Thank you for this amazing site! :D

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up.