Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s New Year’s Gifts

Posted By on December 31, 2011

Anne Boleyn table fountain

Table fountain designed by Hans Holbein and commissioned by Anne Boleyn

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and that Father Christmas brought you all that your heart desired. Of course, in Tudor times gifts were given at New Year rather than Christmas and I love reading the lists of New Year’s gifts in Letters and Papers to get a glimpse into the lives of my favourite Tudor characters. Here are a few of the gifts that were exchanged between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII:-

  • New Year 1532 – Anne gave Henry “an exotic set of richly decorated Pyrenean boar spears”1 and Henry gave Anne hangings of cloth of gold, cloth of silver and embroidered crimson satin for her room and bed. The King refused the gold cup sent to him by his wife, Catherine of Aragon.
  • New Year 1533 – From Henry to Anne: “parcels of gilt plate, late of Sir Henry Guldeford, controller of the Household :—2 gilt pots with round knobs behind the lids, which came to Sir Henry as executor to Sir William Compton, weighing 133 oz. ; a pair of gilt flagons with the arms of France, 147 oz. ; 6 gilt bowls without a cover, 200½oz. ; 3 gilt salts with a cover of Parres touch,” which belonged to Sir Will. Compton, 77 oz. ; 12 gilt spoons with demi-knops at the end, 18 oz. ; a pair of parcel-gilt pots, 99½ oz. ; another, 97¾ oz. ; another, 71 oz. ; 6 parcel-gilt bowls without cover, 199¼ oz. ; the cover of the same, 19¾ oz. ; a basin and ewer, parcel-gilt, 77 oz. ; another basin and ewer, parcel-gilt, 64 oz. ; 11 white spoons with roses at the ends, 20¼ oz. ; 4 candles, white, with high sockets, 86½ oz. ; “a round bason of silver for a chamber, and a silver pot to the same, weighing together 138½ oz.” ; and a chafing dish, parcel-gilt, 39¾ oz.”2
  • New Year 1534 – From Anne to Henry: “A goodly gilt bason, having a rail or board of gold in the midst of the brim, garnished with rubies and pearls, wherein standeth a fountain, also having a rail of gold about it garnished with diamonds; out thereof issueth water, at the teats of three naked women standing at the foot of the same fountain.”3 Anne Boleyn commissioned this rose water silver-gilt table fountain from Hans Holbein.

For a further insight into New Year’s gifts, read the list of New year’s gifts given to the King in at New Year 1534 in Letters and Papers – click here – I like the sound of the Duke of Suffolk’s gift to Henry, “a book garnished with gold, having therein a clock”!

Have a wonderful time celebrating the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. Happy New Year to you and your families and thank you for all your support and encouragement in 2011. See you in 2012!

Notes and Sources

  1. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives, p148
  2. LP vi. 6
  3. LP vii. 9
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