Woman said to be Anne Boleyn by Holbein
Woman said to be Anne Boleyn by Holbein

One of the rituals associated with childbirth was called “taking her chamber”. A Tudor woman usually “took to her chamber”, or went into confinement, four to six weeks before her due date.

Anne Boleyn took to her chamber on 26th August 1533, less than two weeks before Elizabeth was born. Elizabeth may have been premature, Anne may have miscalculated her dates, or she may have purposely entered confinement late to suggest that Elizabeth had been conceived legitimately.

Anne’s “taking her chamber” ceremony took place at Greenwich Palace. A heavily pregnant Queen Anne Boleyn attended a special mass at the palace’s Chapel Royal and then processed with her ladies to the Queen’s great chamber. There, the group enjoyed wine and spices before Anne’s lord chamberlain prayed that God would give the Queen a safe delivery. After the prayer, Anne and her ladies retired to her chamber, which, from that moment on, would be a male-free zone. The fifteenth century “Royalle Book” and the ordinances added to it by Lady Margaret Beaufort stipulated that the birthing chamber should:

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10 thoughts on “26 August 1533 – Anne Boleyn takes to her Chamber”
    1. Not really sure but I know in France the whole court crammed in to the Queen’s chambers in preparation for the birth often causing chaos and making it very hot a law was passed after Marie Antoinette gave birth to the Dauphin after that only the physician and the Ladies in waiting were allowed in

    2. England was just England and Wales in 1533, Scotland had it’s own monarchy until 1603.

      The last English/British queen whose births weren’t attended by the whole or even select members of the court as the then Duchess of York, the former Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

      The present Queen as both Princess and Heiress Apparent and Queen wasn’t attnded by any-one other than her medical practioners. *

      Both Diana Princessof Wales and Katherine Duchess of Cambridge gave birth in a privatehospital.

      * Curently Princess Anne , the Princess Royal is the only modern female Olympian to have had a gender test due to the proximity of many high ranking officials who were able to new the new born shortly after her birth..

  1. Claire,

    I love the sketch you chose for this post. I know there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding it, but I personally believe Holbein sketched Anne after she had taken to her chamber, before the birth of their beloved prince – or princess as it turned out. It was a wonderful moment to capture.

  2. I would think that anne was not keen on the idea of any sort of confinement therefore leavin it until just 2 weeks to go sounds reasonable

  3. Fortunately for Anne she did not have to wait four weeks; Elizabeth came on 7th September, not early but on time as she was conceived well before Anne and Henry were married and so Anne had to conceal the fact by going into confinement when expected. The idea of being in a confined and stuffy room for any length of time would send me round the bend, no matter how comfortable it was or how much spiced wine there was to drink. Anne was not a very patient person; I cannot imagine she enjoyed this period at all. I think I said this once before: those shutters would be ripped off and woe betide anyone who stopped me!

  4. his is not Anne Boleyn, this is Jane Seymour – Anne had brown hair, Jane was blond. Whoever written the name on this painting later, had no idea how Anne looked like

    1. Sir John Cheke (Edward VI’s tutor and later secretary of state) attributed this Holbein drawing to being that of Anne.

      1. This is true, LadyPrincess, which really makes me believe this is of Anne – how could someone of his status mistakenly identify her?

        Also, Ine, what you refer to as blonde hair is actually part of the cap in the sketch, it is not hair.

    2. Thomas Wyatt’s biographer Nicola Shulman actually thinks this picture is of Elizabeth Darrell. See chapter thirteen of ‘Graven with Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt’ (p. 221 pbk edition – Short Books 2011). She makes out quite a convincing case.

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