Tudor Ambition: Houses of the Boleyn Family – online lecture from Simon Thurley


Thank you to Lucia Graves from Gresham College for letting me know about this online lecture from architectural historian Simon Thurley, who you might know from his books on royal palaces.

The lecture is taking place on Wednesday, 16 September 2020, 6:00PM – 7:00PM UK time, and you can register for free at https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/boleyn-houses

Here’s what Gresham College’s website says about the lecture:

“A family best known for producing one of England’s most famous queen consorts started out owning substantial estates in Norfolk before buying, and inheriting, a series of major houses close to London. These mansions became the stage for the tragedy of Ann‘s life and death.

New research allows us to understand the role of property owning at the heart of the story of the Boleyn family.”

It sounds like it will be a very interesting talk.

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2 thoughts on “Tudor Ambition: Houses of the Boleyn Family – online lecture from Simon Thurley”
  1. Signed up, looking forward to the conference. Love Simon Thurley. His series on Tudor buildings was excellent.

  2. I tuned in to this brilliant lecture, yesterday and was very impressed by his presentation on the properties of the Boleyn family and the inheritance from the Butlers, through Anne Butler and her inheritance as a female heiress. She became a co heiress with others but the Ormond title was later disputed by the Boleyn and Butler families. A marriage between James Butler and Anne Boleyn was negotiated for in 1521/2 as we know from this site and her biographies which would have allowed access to the Ormond lands by her family, through her heirs if she had them, but this didn’t come about. However, although merchant class, the grand patriarchy of the Boleyn clan, Lord Mayor Geoffrey Boleyn, married Lady Anne Hoo, the daughter of Sir Thomas Hoo, Baron Hoo of Hastings and Bedford and their sons, William and Thomas went on to bring the family into royal circles. It was the next generation, through James, Thomas and his marriage to Elizabeth Howard that the Boleyn property portfolio really began to take off. Through a combination of royal and military service and good marriages across four generations and inheritance they built up Blicking in Norfolk and then purchased Hever Castle and a series of properties in London and the areas around the City. Under Henry Viii the career of Thomas Boleyn took off and we saw on the lecture the plans and scale of these homes and how they were splendid and how Thomas had transformed the interior of Hever with a beautiful Great Hall and Long Gallery and then the lecture turned to our Anne and the properties she received from the King. There was of course the apartments she was granted independently at Greenwich and the honour of Hampton Court which she held with her mother and of course her own household and establishment in order to have privacy. Finally Simon spoke about Anne as Queen and her real interest in real estate and designing architecture alongside the King. Earlier in his reign Henry built ships, military factories, tournaments, bits and pieces of palaces, but nothing really substantially extensive until after his interest in Anne. Then his building took off like a rocket. We know from extensive plans and sources that York Place, taken from Wolsey became a joint project between Anne and Henry and Whitehall as it became was the grandest palace in Europe. Its actually a large complex and most modern Government buildings are on the site which burned down in the late seventeenth century. Again Anne as Queen was given the largest portfolio of properties of any of Henry’s Queens, of any of the Queen Consorts in fact. This probably shows how much Henry was willing to invest in her as his wife and makes her fall and execution all the more stunning, shocking and remarkable. The immediate Boleyn family survivors, Anne’s father, mother and sister maintained their estates, Mary eventually inheriting most of the properties until her death six months later. Hever was of course given to Anne of Cleves, who invested time and personal touches in it, but had to exchange the property under Edward VI. It was a fascinating insight into the way property and the inner design of properties reflect the powerful ambitions and the growth of families from merchant class to middle nobility and can be used to make an impression. I am looking forward to signing up for the next one on the Cecils.

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