31 May 1533 – Day 3 of Queen Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Celebrations – A Coronation Procession

On day three of the celebrations for her coronation, the pregnant Anne Boleyn processed through London, from the Tower of London to Westminster Hall.

It was a lavish procession in which the queen and the citizens enjoyed pageants, orations, music and plenty of wine. It’s definitely something I’d love to go back in time to see…

And four years earlier, a special legatine court opened at Blackfriars in London to hear the case for an annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Click here for more on that.

Transcript of video:

On this day in Tudor history, Saturday 31st May 1533, the eve of her coronation, a pregnant Queen Anne Boleyn processed from the Tower of London to Westminster Hall.

This coronation procession must have been a wonderful sight for the people of London. Not only was it a huge procession of people dressed in fine clothes and horses in lavish trappings, there were stops for pageants, orations and music, and there was wine at a special wine fountain or flowing in the conduit in Fleet Street.

And, of course, there was England’s new queen.

Under a canopy of cloth of gold, decorated with gilt statues and silver bells and carried by the barons of the sink ports, was Queen Anne with her hair loose and flowing. She was wearing a surcoat of white cloth of gold, an ermine-trimmed mantle of matching cloth of gold, and a coif with a circlet of “rich stones”. Just ahead of the queen was a huge procession led by the servants of Jean de Dinteville, the French ambassador. They were followed by “gentlemen, squires and knights”, then the judges, and the Knights of the Bath, dressed in ermine trimmed violet gowns and hoods. Next were abbots, barons, bishops, earls, marquesses, the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of York, the Venetian ambassador, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the French ambassador, the Mayor of London, William Howard (acting as deputy earl marshal for his brother, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk) and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, acting as Constable of England. Just ahead of Anne were her chancellor and sergeants and officers of arms.

Behind the Queen were her chamberlain, Lord Borough, and her master of the horses, William Coffin, then her ladies clothed in crimson velvet and cloth of gold and tissue. Then came chariots carrying the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and the Marchioness of Dorset (or possibly Elizabeth Boleyn, Anne’s mother), and other ladies of the court.

The procession’s route through the city of London included Fenchurch Street, Gracechurch Street (and Leadenhall), Cornhill Street, Poultry, Cheapside, St Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Churchyard, Ludgate, Fleet Street, Temple Bar, and then probably the Strand, the present day Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and, finally, Westminster Hall.

There were various stops on the route where Anne could view pageants and entertainment, and listen to orations and music. Chronicler Edward Hall and a pamphlet “The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of quene Anne” pamphlet from 1533 give details of the entertainment that day, so let me share with you just a few details.

At Fenchurch Street, there was a pageant featuring children dressed as merchants who welcome her into the city with orations in French and English.

At Gracechurch Street, Anne was greeted with a pageant designed by Hans Holbein the younger, which featured Apollo with the nine muses on Mount Parnassus. They greeted their queen with “many goodly verses to her great praise and honour. A wine fountain also ran here.

At Leaden Hall there were two pageants. The first had Anne Boleyn’s falcon badge as its theme. It had a castle with a green, and a “root” (or stump) out of which white and red roses spilled. A white falcon descended from Heaven and landed on the stump, then an angel wearing armour descended and crowned the falcon. The second pageant consisted of St Anne, surrounded by her children, the three Marys, and their children. Here, verses were read to Queen Anne Boleyn, poetry which emphasised England’s hope for her and the child she was carrying.

At the Conduit on Cornhill Street, there was a pageant featuring the three graces and a poet greeted the queen with a poem declaring the nature of these three ladies and giving “high praises unto the queen’s grace”. Edward Hall describes how there was also “the spring of grace continually running wine.”

At Cheapside, at the “great conduit”, which was newly painted with “arms and devices”, there was “a costly fountain whereout ran white wine, claret and red great plenty all that afternoon: and there was great melody with speeches.”

At Cheapside Cross, which had been “new garnished”, Anne met the Aldermen and the Recorder of London who welcomed her formally and gave her a gold purse containing a thousand marks in gold on behalf of the city.

At the lesser conduit, there was a pageant of the Judgement of Paris. Anne was given the ball of gold, the golden apple which Paris grants to Venus in the story, but which he granted to the queen instead because of her beauty and grace. Verses of great honour were also said, along with children singing a ballad in praise of the queen and her ladies.

At St Paul’s Cathedral, there was “a proper and a sumptuous pageant” with virgins sat under words in Latin which translated to “Quene Anne prosper, precede and reign”. Other messages on the pageant read “Come my love thou shall be crowned”, “Lord god direct my ways”, “Trust in God” and “Quene Anne when you shalt bear a new son of the kings blood there shall be a golden world unto thy people.” The ladies in the pageant then threw wafers and rose leaves, and on the wafers were verses written in gold.

At St Paul’s Churchyard, there was a scaffold on which there were two hundred well-dressed schoolchildren who greeted their queen with poems in Anne and the king’s honour.

A St Martin’s Church at Ludgate, a choir of men and children stood on the leads of the church roof and sang “new ballads made in praise of her.”

At Fleet Street, the conduit had been freshly painted and there was a pageant featuring a tower with four turrets. From each turret a “cardinal virtue” spoke to Anne promising that they would never leave her and that they would aid and comfort her. There were also instruments making a “heavenly noise” and the conduit ran red wine and claret all afternoon.

At Temple Bar, which had also been newly painted, there was a choir of men and children singing to the Queen.

After that final pageant, Queen Anne then made her way via Charing Cross to Westminster Hall, which was described by Hall as newly glazed and decorated with “cloth of arras”. There, Anne enjoyed refreshments such as “spice plates”, hippocras and wine, which she shared with her ladies. She then gave thanks to lords, ladies and Mayor, and retired for the night. Both Hall and the pamphlet record that Anne was then taken secretly to spend the night with the King at his “Manor of Westminster”.

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