The Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn Choir Screen – A testament to their union – Anne Boleyn artefacts

Discover the stunning Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn Choir Screen at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge.

This exquisite wooden rood screen is more than a beautiful artefact, it holds a fascinating link to Anne Boleyn and the Tudor dynasty…

Transcript and links:

One beautiful object linked to Anne Boleyn that has survived the centuries is a large wooden rood screen, or choir screen or organ screen which separates the ante chapel from the choir in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. In his book, “An Outline of European architecture”, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner described it as “the most exquisite piece of Italian decoration surviving in England”.

But how is it linked to Anne Boleyn?

Well, it dates to the 1530s and Eric Ives, in his biography of Anne Boleyn, put forward the idea that it was made to celebrate the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, noting how it featured Anne’s arms, the ciphers RA and HR, the arms of Henry and Anne impaled, a woman’s profile, a bull’s head and lovers’ knots.

But stonecarver Lucy Churchill, who had done an extraordinary amount of research on the screen and wrote a journal article, “A re-appraisal of the iconography of the choir screen at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge”, explains how she “decoded the carved iconography to reveal a pointed message that went far beyond a mere marriage celebration as previously supposed.” She goes on to day, “Using imagery that contemporary viewers would have understood, the screen asserts Henry VIII and Anne’s Divine Right to rule over the Church of England and issues a very real and menacing threat to dissenters.”

I can only share these photos of the screen that don’t show any detail, but you can see photos of all the devices and imagery on Lucy’s website and read her research there too. She has an index of all the imagery used on the screen and it makes for very interesting reading.

It really is wonderful that we have this beautiful artefact linked to Anne and her time as queen.

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