Westminster AbbeyOn 4th August 1557 merchant-taylor and diarist Henry Machyn recorded that there was a requiem mass for “my lady prenses of Cleyff” with a “godly sermon” by the Lord Abbot of Westminster. Her coffin was then taken to her tomb and her body interred with the cloth-of-gold laid over her. Then, her head officers broke their staves and her ushers broke their rods and cast them into her tomb. After another mass, there was a dinner led by the chief mourner, Lady Winchester, the Lord Admiral and Lord Darcy.

Anne of Cleves is the only one of Henry VIII’s wives to be buried at Westminster Abbey and her tomb is on the south side of the High Altar. It is decorated with carvings of a crown and her initials, AC, skulls and crossed bones, and a lion’s head.

Here is Machyn’s record of the funeral:

“The iiij day of August was the masse of requiem for my lade prenses of Cleyff, and dowther to [William] duke of Cleyff; and ther my lord abbott of Westmynster mad a godly sermon as ever was mad, and [then] . . . the byshope of London song masse in ys myter; [and after] masse my lord byshope and my lord abbott mytered dyd [cense] the corsse; and afterward she was caried to her tomb, [where] she leys with a herse-cloth of gold, the wyche lyys [over her]; and ther alle her hed offesers brake ther stayffes, [and all] her hussears brake ther rodes, and all they cast them in-to her tombe; the wyche was covered her co[rps] with blake, and all the lordes and lades and knyghtes and gentyllmen and gentell-women dyd offer, and after masse agrett [dinner] at my lord (abbat’s); and my lade of Wynchester was the cheyff [mourner,] and my lord admeroll and my lord Darce whent of ether syde of my lade of Wynchester, and so they whent in order to dinner.”


Also on this day in history…

  • 1540 – Brother William Horne, laybrother of the London Charterhouse was hanged, disembowelled and quartered at Tyburn. Horne was the last of the Carthusian martyrs to be killed after eighteen members of the Carthusian order of monks based at the London Charterhouse were condemned to death in 1535 for refusing to accept King Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church. You can read more about him in my article 4 August 1540 – The Execution of Blessed William Horne, Carthusian Martyr
  • 1598 – William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, died at his home in London aged seventy-six. He was laid to rest at St Martin’s Church, Stamford, in his home county of Lincolnshire. See William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley

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2 thoughts on “4 August 1557 – Burial of Anne of Cleves, Fourth Wife of Henry VIII”
  1. I am always amazed on the length of time after death that the burial takes place in these times. 18 days seems an awful long time in which to have a body hanging around.
    I suppose with embalming and lead sealed caskets it was safe to do so.
    It is good she was paid the respect that she well deserved at her death, it is a great shame she wasn’t shown the same in those months when she first arrived in England.
    She was a very kind soul, and I think would have made a very good Queen.

    I wonder as time went by, when Anne grew accustom and adapted to the English way, and her true personality shone through, as well as her capabilities, that Henry ever thought that he had made a great mistake in divorcing her and not giving her a chance…the one that got away. I hope so even if it was for just a glancing second.

  2. Mary Tudor paid for her to have a royal funeral and her memorial is beautiful in Westminster and very colourful; a wonderful thing to view. I think like Dawn I that Anne of Cleves was much cleverer than she is given credit for and was a compassionate person; Henry lost out when he rejected her. She was given glowing reports from people who met and saw her and the ambassadors. She would indeed have made a good queen; she would have sorted Henry out. I believe she had many quaities that Catherine Parr had, in that she was a good stepmother to his younger children, she would certainly have been a practical queen, she probably would have been able to nurse his leg and she certainly learned how to dance and sing and to play musical instruments. No doubt she could have learned to study as well. She also became good at winning money at cards and had a great sense of humour. Henry even found her to be a good friend after their marriage ended. Had he really taken time to get to know her; yes, he may not have had a sexual relationship with her but she would certainly have made a good queen in ceremonial terms. But then, that is Henry VIII; thinking with his loins and not his brain.

    Anne of Cleves may have been one of the most sensible and intelligent of the six queens and she got a good deal from the divorce; a couple of palaces and siz houses; she did have some problems from Edward VIs lot over Hever Castle, she was in danger at one point under Mary, but she maintained for the most part a good relationship with the queen, maintained her royal dignity and thus as a sign of respect was buried with due honour and love by that same queen.

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