16 February 1547 – Henry VIII is buried

St George's Chapel Windsor Andrew Abbott GeographOn 16th February 1547, King Henry VIII was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, according to the instructions given in his will:

“We are content, and also by these presentes our last will and testament do will and ordeyn, that our body be buryed and enterred in the Quere of our college of Windesour, midway between the Statte [stalls] and the high Autarre [altar] and there to be made and sette, assoon as conveniently may be doon after our deceasse, by our executours, at our coste and charge, if it be not doon by us in our lief time, an honorable tomb for our bones to rest in, which is well onward, and almoost made therefor alredye, with a fayre grate about it; in which we will also, that the bones and body of our true and loving wief Queene Jane be put also; and that there be provided, ordeyned, made, and sett, at the coste and charge of us, or of our executours, if it be not doon in our
lief, a convenient Aulter, honorably prepared, and apparailled with all manner of thinges requisite and necessary for dayly masses, there to be sayd perpetuelly, while the world shall endure.”1

Unfortunately, the magnificent tomb in which Henry had planned to be laid to rest – a tomb which had actually been designed for Cardinal Wolsey – was not finished. In 1646 Parliament ordered that the ornaments of the tomb should be sold and the sarcophagus ended up being the tomb of Lord Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) and standing in St Paul’s Cathedral. Henry VIII’s and Jane Seymour’s remains are in a vault under the floor of the chapel, along with the remains of Charles I and an infant child of Queen Anne, the Stuart queen.

Here is an account of his burial:

“After remaining in the chapel all night, on the next day, about four o’clock, began the communion of the Trinity; when ‘after an offering of gold by the chief mourner, of the Knights of the Garter to St. George, and of the king’s hatchments, bannerols and banners, and other trophies, as also of the king’s horse richly trapped, came four gentleman ushers, and took away the pall of cloth of tissue (the picture being conveyed away before by six knights into the vestry); after which, sixteen strong yeomen of the guard took the coffin, and with five strong linen towels, which they had for their fees, let it into the vault (near unto the body of Queen Jane Seymour, his third wife), the grate being first taken away; then the Lord Chamberlain, the Lord Great Master, Mr. Treasurer, Mr. Comptroller, and the Sergeant Porter breaking their white staves upon their heads in three parts, as did likewise all the gentleman ushers, threw them into the grave, when Garter, assisted by the Bishops of Canterbury and Durham, declared the state and the name of the most godly prince their master, King Edward VI. Thus the funeral ending, the trumpet sounded in the rood-loft and the company departed.'”2

Today, there is a memorial slab marking Henry VIII’s resting place.

Notes and Sources

Image: St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle © Copyright Andrew Abbott and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

  1. Pote, Joseph; Biggs, R; Parr, Richard; Smith, J (1749) The history and antiquities of Windsor Castle, and the Royal College, and Chapel of St. George… , p.56-7.
  2. Stoughton, John (1844) Notice of Windsor in Olden Times, David Bogue & W. Willmore p. 127-8.

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11 thoughts on “16 February 1547 – Henry VIII is buried”
  1. I attended Saturday evening services in the St. George Chapel, but at that time did not know it was burial place of Henry VIII. The chapel and service were quite lovely.

  2. Last summer, my family and I had the pleasure of visiting Britain from the US. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing my father, who was just beginning to learn more details about British history, stopping for several moments at Henry VIII’s burial site, pondering his newfound knowledge of the man laid to rest there.

  3. Visited Windsor and chapel. Awesome day full of memorable sights! Please refresh my memory of this visit, as to the exact position of the burial crypt of Henry VIII.
    Am I correct in eeling that I saw it in the very center of the floor of the Chapel itself? I am so very much enjoying learning more about the Tudors history through this fabulous internet blog!

  4. Henry V11s tomb in Westminster is so beautiful I saw it on a programme called ‘The Winter King’ , narrated by the author, he lies with his Queen and is surrounded by black railings and the polished effigies of them both gleam in the darkness of the Abby, iv often wondered why Henry V111 chose to be buried at Windsor, was it his favourite place maybe? I know he favoured Greenwich out of all his palaces, I bet the ceremony was awesome, very sombre and dignified, I too have heard the story of how a dog licked the fluid after the coffin supposedly burst open, and there was a prophecy given that at the time he was trying to divorce his first Queen, that a ‘dog will lick his blood’ if he ‘put away his Queen’, Henry was so huge when he died I think his waist measured over sixty inches that I’m sure the coffin would have been especially strong so that wouldn’t happen, great care would have been taken with it, unlike Anne Boleyn who didn’t even have a coffin prepared for her and so her ladies had to look around for one and hastily put her in an old arrow box, iv visited Windsor Castle but not the chapel, it’d be nice to go back there one day and visit the plaque that marks his final resting place.

  5. The stone that marks the resting place in the centre of the Chaple and Choir of Saint George may be plain black with markings and inscriptions on it but in one sense it is still magnificent because it is so simple and elegant. The setting itself is fine and glorious with the high glass windows and the flags and banners of the knights of the garter overhead and the war banners, all this would have been appreciated by Henry. His original tomb would have been something to behold though, a grand sight. It must have cost a fortune.

  6. P.S. I don’t personally put any store on the prophacy that his bones would burst out of the coffin and so on; I believe this probably did not happen, but has gone down in folk lore as the prophacy was probably remembered long after the actual details of the burial ceremonies or what happened at each resting place. For one thing; the coffin would have been of the best quality and made to measure; it may even have been altered to allow for Henry’s growing size; the bit about dogs and his blood more likely refers to the embalming fluid that could have leaked a little; excesses of it were often used; anything else would not have happened and it is not likely that he smelled either. The body was washed and herbs surrounded it; it was encased in lead and flowers placed in with spices to prevent any such smells. The coffin could not be tampered with and would have been repaired if anything did happen as it was guarded and watched over. The prophecy may have been good at the time and some authors love to quite it as fact, but it is not supported by actual contemporary sources.

    I also love the way they took weeks to bury these royals and nobles. I know it took time for the coffin to move from one place to the other, but oh, boy, what a carry on, many masses, laying in state, ceremonies, internments, movements, and so on, with several cathedrals and churches involved. That alone would cost a fortune, before the grand tomb was placed on top of the vault and the accessories in place. Richard III modern tomb cost in excess of 1.5 million plus all the work to alter the Cathedral and the many services involved and people who played a role in his internment. Henry VII and Elizabeth of York in Westminster must have cost a bit, so imagine what Henry VIII’s would cost. At least part of it still exists in the form of the alabaster tomb of Lord Nelson. Quite apporopriate really as Henry was the Father of the Royal Navy.

    1. Yes I think old Henry wouldn’t mind that Lord Nelson has borrowed some of his tomb as he did centuries later save us from the French who he hated.

  7. “along with the remains of Charles I and an infant child of Queen Anne, the Stuart queen.”
    As if infant mortality wasn’t bad enough you end up being buried with Henry VIII. Poor kid!

    1. The child was laid in the best place of honour. The earthly remains are not the person. Their souls have moved on.

  8. The child was laid in the best place of honour. The earthly remains are not the person. Their souls have moved on.

    Henry was a great King and well respected even at his death. I love the black cover slab and it really does look great in the centre of the Quire in the place of true honour, before the High Alter at the heraldic Chapel of Saint George, in Windsor. It actually looks smarter than all that ornamentation. His coffin was restored in the nineteenth century.

    Its ironic that he ended up with Charles I, who was placed there by accident, because the so called promoters of democracy, the Parliament of his murderer, Oliver Cromwell, tried to bar his funeral as his coffin was being laid to rest. Yeah, equality for everyone, but we won’t let the ex King have a funeral. He might have been guilty of everything they claimed but are they really that small minded? The vault was opened as the most obvious and room was found within for King Charles who had a simple internment and service, constantly disrespected by the Puritan guards, paid to cause trouble.

    I have seen the sarcophagus in Saint Paul’s Cathedral over the remains of Lord Nelson and find it ironic and fitting as the King was the Father of the English Navy.

    These are only the earthly remains but the souls of all are in peace in the after life. Henry Viii and Jane Seymour, King Charles I and Dear Unknown Little Child, rest in peace.

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