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