3 August 1557 – Anne of Cleves’ remains are processed to Westminster

Posted By on August 3, 2018

On this day in history, 3rd August 1557, the remains of forty-one-year-old Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of the late King Henry VIII, were processed from Chelsea Old Manor to Westminster Abbey for burial.

Anne had died at her home, Chelsea Old Manor, on 16th July 1557 following a few months of illness. She had outlived all of Henry VIII’s other wives and the king himself. Her body had been embalmed and placed in a coffin covered with a cloth bearing her arms at Chelsea. Tapers were lit around her coffin and prayers said on a daily basis

Merchant-taylor and diarist Henry Machyn recorded the procession from Chelsea to Westminster in his diary. I have modernised the spelling:

“The 3 day of August my lady Anne of Cleves, sometime wife unto King Henry the VIII came from Chelsea to be [buried] unto Westminster, with all the children of Westminster and [many] priests and clerks, and then the grey amice of Pauls and three crosses, and the monks of Westminster, and my lord bishop of Lo[ndon] and my lord abbot of Westminster rode together next the monks, and then the two executors Sir Edmund Peckham and Sir (Robert) Freston, cofferer to the Queen of England; and then my lord admiral, my (lord) Darcy of Essex, and many knights and gentlemen; and before her servants, and after her banner of armes; and then her gentlemen and her head officers; and then her chariot with eight banners of armes of diverse armes, and four banners of images of white taffeta, wrought with fine gold and her armes; and so by Saint James, and so to Charing Cross, with a 100 torches burning, her servants bearing them, and the twelve bed-men of Westminster had new black gowns; and they had twelve torches burning, and four white branches with armes; and then ladies and gentlewomen all in black, and horses; and eight heralds of arms in black, and their horses; and armes set about the hearse behind and before; and four heralds bearing the four white banners; and at (the) church door all did alight and there did receive the good lady my lord of London and my lord abbot in their mitres and copes, censing her, and their men did bear her with a canopy of black velvet, with four black staffs, and so brought in the hearse and there tared (?) dirge, and so there all night with light burning.”

You can see a picture of Anne of Cleves’ funeral procession on the British Library website – click here.

Anne of Cleves was buried at Westminster the following day – click here for details.


  • ed. Nichols, J.G. (1848) The Diary of Henry Machyn: Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London (1550-1563), p141-162

6 thoughts on “3 August 1557 – Anne of Cleves’ remains are processed to Westminster”

  1. Michael Wright says:

    Thank you for the link to the procession image. I had not seen that before.

    The prayer by Thomas Becon is quite beautiful. From all I’ve read about Anne she was quite friendly and likable. I’m sure when she passed she was missed by many. When Henry died Anne no longer had her ‘brother’ to take care of her and when Edward came to the throne the crown began downsizing her as they didn’t want to continue with her upkeep as Henry did. I’m very happy to know that Mary gave her the funeral that she was entitled to. Didn’t Anne and Mary become fairly close?

    1. Roland H. says:

      Interestingly enough, Queen Mary herself accused her former stepmother Anne of Cleves of conspiring against her during the Wyatt Rebellion:

      Simon Renard (the Imperial envoy) to the Emperor:

      “Sire: The Queen of England summoned me this morning and informed me that the Council had issued orders for Courtenay’s arrest and imprisonment in the Tower, because Wyatt, without having been tortured, accused him and several others, such as Pickering and Poignz, of being of the conspiracy. Pickering escaped arrest by flight into France, where he is said to have joined Carew. A clerk of the Queen’s Council, named Thomas (fn. 2) (was also mentioned).

      The Council has sent two of the Queen’s physicians to visit the Lady Elizabeth and find out whether she is still unwell or only pretending, and whom she has in her house; and if she is not ill the Admiral, Hastings and Cornwallis are to arrest and bring her in to the Tower.

      The Queen, moreover, told me that the Lady (Anne) of Cleves was of the plot and intrigued with the Duke of Cleves to obtain help for Elizabeth: matters in which the King of France was the prime mover. In order to smooth them over the French ambassador had audience to-day, though I do not yet know exactly what he said.

      The Queen says that God has miraculously permitted all this to come out and furnished her with means to put a stop to it by punishing the guilty authors in time, for otherwise heresy would have found its way back to the kingdom, she would have been robbed of her state and England subjected to the will of the French. So she is now absolutely determined to have strict justice done and make herself strong against further eventualities.”

      (from ‘Calendar of State Papers, Spain’, Vol. 12, 1554, letter of Feb. 12, 1554)

      1. Michael Wright says:

        Thank you for that. With Anne being the survivor that she was and knowing how the English court worked I can’t imagine her even thinking of putting herself in such a position. I agree with Christine- another bout of Tudor paranoia.

  2. Banditqueen says:

    Anne of Cleves was the only Queen of Henry Viii to have the privilege of being buried in a place of honour in Westminster Abbey and apart from Queen Mary was the last main Royal Catholic funeral in England. BBC History did an article on it two months ago. Of course, Jane Seymour had a state funeral, but in Saint George Chapel in Windsor Castle where her husband, King Henry Viii joined her in January 1547. Mary had a very deep affection and admiration for Anne of Cleves, her dignity and probably saw her as her father’s true wife rather than Katherine Howard. Elizabeth Norton points out that despite coming from the mildly Lutheran state of Cleves, Anne was raised by her Catholic mother, most probably remained Catholic and certainly conformed to the Catholic practices in England. It is more probable than not that she was a Catholic when she died, as opposed to a Lutheran.

    Mary had honoured Anne at her own Coronation when she came in the second chariot with Princess Elizabeth giving her the correct order of precedence confirmed by Henry Viii. Here she is equally as important as Mary’s lawful heiress, Elizabeth. At her funeral she received all of the solemnity and dignity of a Princess of Cleves and a Queen of England and the beautiful prayers and ceremony have been preserved wonderfully for us in this original contemporary source. Drawings of her tomb and of the procession show it was far more magnificent than it is even now. Mary left money and orders for an even grander memorial but it was not to transpire due to the cuts of the Reformation. Anne remained friends with Queen Mary and had been a friend to Elizabeth with both visiting her regularly at Hever after her annulment. She also showed kindness to Prince Edward but unfortunately the young King’s ministers were not as generous to Anne as Henry had been forcing her to exchange Hever for another House and cutting her allowance. She was better off again under Mary and a regular visitor to Court. They did have a breach in their relationship for a time after the Wyatt plot with Anne falling under suspicion of Protestant sympathies. However, there is evidence from their exchanges of gifts that this breach was healed and Mary obviously wished to honour Anne as a friend, stepmother and Queen. The prayers are indeed very beautiful.

    RIP Queen Anna of Cleves. YNWA

  3. Christine says:

    I think in those days of plots and subterfuge many came under suspicion, but Mary was a woman of good common sense and knew how easy it was for enemies to try to stitch some one up, Tudor monarchs i believe were more suspicious than their Plantaganet forbears -Henry V111 was positively paranoid, due to their shaky hold on the crown and his own head injuries made him worse, but there was always plots of some sort, Mary’s throne was usurped by Jane Grey or it could have been the other way round, its still hotly debated today whether she should have been executed for accepting the crown which after all, was left to her then there was the Wyatt plot which was in favour of putting Elizabeth a protestant on the throne, so Mary was suspicious but after everything that had happened to her it was only natural, she did not trust Elizabeth and the comment made in Renards letter makes me chuckle, for it mentions Elizabeths illness and wether it’s real or not, Elizabeth did have a habit of falling ill whenever she wished to extricate herself from a difficult or unsavoury situation, how many of us have done that and still do? I think with Anne of Cleves Marys fondness for her overrode any suspicion about being in league with her brother, Anne like Mary was a sensible woman and just wanted a quiet life why risk that? She had survived her ill fated marriage to Henry V111 and had a good life, she was often at court, I find it a shame that she was forced to give up Hever as she was unhappy about that, Hever must always have been charming set in the rolling green fields of Kent, small and cosy and here she must have enjoyed many a happy hour, then she had to leave, Edward possibly found his fathers ex a bit tiresome but she had been queen therefore must live in proper state, it is said her servants mourned her greatly having found her a good gentle mistress and her magnificent funeral and internment at Westminster is proof of how highly she was valued by her step daughter the queen, I watched Lucy Worsley some years ago on tv and she visited Annes home town of Cleves, they still make a cake in honour of her called of course ‘Anna of Cleve’s cake’ which I think is a nice touch, Lucy tried a slice and said it was delicious it was very rich I recall, probably caramel and chocolate, now that’s a nice way to be remembered by a yummy cake!

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Ah, yes, the cake, I remember some lovely pictures of it last year. Whether Anne invented it or it is modern, it seems the best way to commemorate a rather sweet lady. Considering all the stuff she put up with, going to a foreign country, hardly able to speak the country, with an odd, very large monarch, then being rejected after six months, having to write something like Dear Brother William, Henry is a darling and I am so happy and content to please him and agree to be set aside and am so honoured to be called his Sister, that I wish to remain in England, and oh, dear Henry has given me two palaces, etc, or something like that, then having to move out of her favourite palace, and so on, she seems to have had very good grace and been very much patience. Anne was very lucky and very intelligent and it must have been both disappointing and yet a relief to be able to get an agreement with Henry. She was a regular guest at Court but with so many plots around, it was I suppose inevitable that people close to the crown became entangled and fell in and out of favour. Mary suspected Anne was involved but at some point much later on they appear to have reconciled. Remember, Elizabeth was implicated in the Wyatt plot and it also spelled the end for Jane Grey who would have been pardoned but for her daft father. When you don’t know who is innocent and who isn’t and your life is in danger it must be very difficult to know who to trust. I bet the cake is nice and the Tudors did have a very sweet tooth.

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