14 November 1532 – Did they or didn’t they?

Posted By on November 14, 2017

According to chronicler Edward Hall, a contemporary source, 14th November 1532, the Feast of St Erkenwald, was the wedding date of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Marquis of Pembroke.

The couple had landed at Dover, on the Kent coast, at 5am that day, having spent just over a month away in Calais, and Hall records:

“The kyng after his returne, maried priuily the lady Anne Bulleyn, on sainct Erkenwaldes daie, whiche mariage was kept so secrete, that very fewe knewe it, til she was greate with child, at Easter after.”

Henry and Anne then spent a few days in and around Dover before travelling back to London, arriving back at Eltham Palace on 24th November. The time spent in Dover was apparently “for the purpose of having harbours constructed in the said town, or at least of creating a spacious plea for asking money from his subjects for the said works”, but perhaps the couple were spending time together celebrating their union; they certainly started living together as man and wife after the Calais trip and before their official, although still secret, marriage ceremony on 25th January 1533, the Feast of St Paul.

We will never know if Edward Hall was correct, but the couple’s subsequent behaviour suggests that at least some promise was made between them either in Calais or Dover, enough of a promise for them to risk pregnancy.

Notes and Sources

  • Hall, Edward (1809) Hall’s chronicle: containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry the Eighth, in which are particularly described the manners and customs of those periods. Carefully collated with the editions of 1548 and 1550, printed for J. Johnson; F.C. and J. Rivington; T. Payne; Wilkie and Robinson; Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme; Cadell and Davies; and J. Mawman; London, p.794.
  • Calendar of State Papers, Spain, 1531-1533, p.556-557.
  • Ives, Eric (2004) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, p. 161, 170-171.
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