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

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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11 thoughts on “Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s New Year’s Gifts”
  1. Claire,
    Who is the knight listed with the other knights and after the gift lists Sir Jas. Bolleyn? It’s a different spelling but so is Bullen which would have been the common English spelling. Is he a relation?

  2. I would rather have indoor plumbing and a modern bathroom than all the gold and silver around. The Tudors would never know the joy of a hot shower. And a bathroom with a proper sewage system. That is my idea of living in comfort.

  3. Happy New Year Claire and to all my fellow Tudor buffs. I spent mine quietly after a week’s vacation in lovely San Antonio Texas (with three spa days — there’s something else Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth might have enjoyed). Had lamb shanks for New Year’s Eve dinner, and of course the traditional black-eyed peas will be coming for New Year’s Day lunch and dinner (Did the Tudors have a traditional New Year’s dish for “good luck”?). And instead of being out among the ‘amateurs’ I spent my evening with a nice dinner and watching one of my Christmas gifts: the first episodes of the first season of the great TV series [i]Rawhide[/i]. It was a great way to bring in 2012 after the lousy 2011 I had.

  4. wow, that was an awful lot of Bling!! What on earth did they do with it all, presuming the King and which ever wife he had at the time, received this amount of expensive gifts every year…was it put on display do you think or stashed safely away, used on occassions?

  5. Claire,Were any of these gifts found to date? Also does England have any of Queen Annes crowns , dresses ect? If so where does England keep these such treasures?If so do you have any pics of them,so we may take a look? Baroness Von Reis

    1. A lot of the clothes in the royal wardrobe were re used and re-styled as the fabrics and the jewels were very expensive and precious, so the material eventually wears out and the jewels re-set. I do know there is a hat, gloves and stockings at Hatfield Hall of Elizabeth’s on display, not much but something at least,but I was amazed at the length of the fingers of the gloves, they are so long, apparently Elizabeth was very proud of her lovely long fingers.

  6. Henry’s gift to Anne was a big hint that she was about to become Queen and to prepare for that inevitable event. She was being treated to the honour of being in the place of the Queen and she was given Courtesy as the Queen. She was the one who sat in the Queen’s Presence Chamber and she was the one who received her due homage. She received acclaim and gifts as Queen, but she usurped the role still lawfully held by another.

    Everyone was very much making certain that she came to see that they showed loyalty to the King through their gifts, even when they wanted to show it to Queen Katherine and by extension they honoured his wife in waiting.

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