Anne Boleyn Falcon Carving – What a find!


Anne’s falcon badge in her copy of The Ecclesiaste
As you may have seen in the news, an Anne Boleyn artefact has come to light – a wooden carving of her falcon badge!

What’s amazing is that it was sold at auction in 2019 for £75 as simply an “antique carved wooden bird”, when it was actually a 16th century wooden carving of Anne Boleyn’s badge! It’s now worth £200,000!

It is thought that it may have adorned Anne Boleyn’s private royal apartments at Hampton Court Palace and somehow survived when Henry VIII ordered the removal of her badges and motifs.

It really is an amazing find and congratulations to Sandra Vasoli, James Peacock and Tracy Borman, and antiques dealer Paul Fitzsimmons, for their work on it. Paul is placing it on long-term loan to Hampton Court Palace, which is wonderful news.

Read more at, where you can also see a photo of it.

Anne’s white falcon came from the heraldry of her paternal grandmother’s Butler family, the Earls of Ormonde, and in her badge, it lands on the stump of an oak tree from which red and white roses bloom. It symbolised Anne bringing life, i.e. children, to the barren Tudor stock.

In celebration of her coronation in 1533, poet and scholar Nicholas Udall wrote the following ballad:

This White Falcon,
Rare and geason,
This bird shineth so bright;
Of all that are,
No bird compare
May with this Falcon White.

The virtues all,
No man mortal,
Of this bird can write.
No man earthly
Enough truly
Can praise this Falcon White.

Who will express
Great gentleness
To be in any wight;
He will not miss,
But call him this
The gentle Falcon White.

This gentle bird
As white as curd
Shineth both day and night;
Nor far ne near
Is any peer
Unto this Falcon White,

Of body small.
Of power regal,
She is, and sharp of sight ;
Of courage hault
No manner fault
Is in this Falcon White,

In chastity,
Excelleth she,
Most like a virgin bright:
And worthy is
To live in bliss
Always this Falcon White.

But now to take
And use her make
Is time, as troth is plight;
That she may bring
Fruit according
For such a Falcon White.

And where by wrong,
She hath fleen long,
Uncertain where to light;
Herself repose
Upon the Rose,
Now may this Falcon White.

Whereon to rest,
And build her nest;
GOD grant her, most of might!
That England may
Rejoice alway
In this same Falcon White.

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6 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn Falcon Carving – What a find!”
  1. A beautiful poem, and the image of the falcon atop the barren tree stump is especially poignant, as Anne Boleyn was fated only to bear one living heir to the Tudor dynasty, a daughter who with her death died the race that her father had tried so hard to preserve, a wonderful wonderful find indeed.

  2. Sarah and Tracy’s talk on Saturday was wonderful and she alerted us all to the Guardian Article but to be honest it was soon all over social media, which is fantastic. Its exquisite and in the original wooden colours. Getting the fire stains off must have been hard work as it was pretty blackened before being restored and cleaned. What a find indeed. It was inside Anne’s private apartments, which makes it even more special as you know people wouldn’t see it unless they served the Queen there. It almost looks like a very private and personal item. It might have been rescued just before Anne was executed. I would love to know its full provenance.

    Two or three more are high up in Hampton Court in the Great Hall but they are very different and meant to be seen. We don’t have a lot more, but there’s an odd HA as well. Henry might not quite have changed his wives as often as he did his underwear but he was moving on from one to the other so fast that all of the official decorations couldn’t be removed. This is a private item. I would imagine it would normally be stored or given to a favourite servant when a Queen died. It might normally have escaped but Henry wanted all physical trace of Anne Boleyn gone, for obvious reasons. Although innocent, she was a condemned traitor and adultress who had failed in her duty and brought disgrace to the Royal dignity. That was her legal status in 1536 and Henry was personally hurt by her, or so he wanted everyone to believe. It was very possible Henry knew Anne was innocent but condemned her anyway because he wanted her out of the way.
    He couldn’t abide her memory and he didn’t want that memory preserved. Like King Tut and the 18th Dynasty, officially obliterated from history, from the King lists for example, Anne has turned up bit by bit to haunt us and put history back again. Now all we need is for a formal identification of her portrait and her remains, carefully sealed and marked by the Victorian pathologist.

    In contrast the arms and initials of Queen Jane Seymour majestically surmount the golden ceiling built for her in the Great Watching Chamber and her remains are interred in state at Windsor, but today only a marble stone marks the spot where she lies beneath the great heraldic parade with Henry himself.

    The Great Hall of Hampton Court was built and designed by Henry and Anne. That’s her greatest physical remains, but her daughter was her real legacy. On the entrance from Base Court there is another anomaly. Here there is an unmissable KH entwined, the arms of England and Spain with a very obvious pomegranate from which has emerged a tiny Tudor Rose. The best example of the arms of Katharine and Henry is at New Hall Place in full colour, now a school, but near the archaeological remains of Beaulieu Palace. This was built for his hoped for family and the infant Princess Mary had her nursery and kitchens there. Henry was less scrupulous in removing the arms etc of Katharine and his other wives, although they were changed with each wife, the beasts had new heads and so on and you don’t have to look far for a KH. With Anne it was almost relentless. Some historians say he wanted her image destroyed altogether although no original source ordered her pictures or letters destroyed. Its an assumption as this apparently is what happened. Most of the portraits of Anne officially date post 1536 and others are Elizabethan. Anne does have surviving letters and papers. Then we have Henry’s love letters, but her response have not been found. We have the poetry of Thomas Wyatt and we have a few precious items. We have a few private letters from Anne, especially her letter as a child to her father. In Hever we have the two beautiful Books of Hours with Anne’s hand written inscriptions and inscriptions from six other people connected to Anne. Anne speaks from beyond the grave.

    I am sure much more extensive work has to be done on this beautiful falcon badge but I am sure we will learn its and Anne’s secrets from its study very soon.

  3. Just finished watching the marvellous video on YouTube Claire did with James Peaccock and Sandra Vasoli. I wonder if Anne’s badge was painted black to hide it away in the midst of other ornate woodcarvings in a large mansion? It is such a tease of a thought that there may be so much more out there relating to Anne, hidden away, waiting to be recognised. My thoughts go to how many rich Americans bought up old mansions in Britain and shipped them to the USA where they lie in crates still. Maybe Sandra will be the next person to discover an Anne Boleyn relic?

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