On this day in history, 4th August 1557, there was a requiem mass for Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of the late King Henry VIII, at Westminster Abbey.
After the mass and a “godly sermon”, Anne was buried in a tomb at the abbey. Her tomb is decorated with carvings of a crown and her initials, AC, skulls and crossed bones, and a lion’s head.
Merchant-taylor and diarist Henry Machyn recorded Anne’s funeral in his diary. I have modernised the spelling:
“The 4th day of August was the mass of requiem for my lady princess of Cleves, and daughter to [William] duke of Cleves; and there my lord abbot of Westminster made a godly sermon as ever was made, and [then] . . . the bishop of London sang mass in his mitre; [and after] mass my lord bishop and my lord abbot mitred did [cense] the corpse; and afterward she was carried to her tomb, [where] she lies with a hearse-cloth of gold, the which lies [over her]; and there all her head officers broke their staves, [and all] her hussars broke their rods, and all they cast them into her tomb; the which was covered her corps with black, and all the lords and ladies and knights and gentlemen and gentlewomen did offer, and after mass a great [dinner] at my lord (abbot’s); and my lady of Winchester was the chief [mourner,] and my lord admiral and my lord Darcy went of either side of my lady of Winchester, and so they went in order to dinner.”
- ed. Nichols, J.G. (1848) The Diary of Henry Machyn: Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London (1550-1563), p141-162
- Westminster Abbey’s website page on Anne of Cleves