A Queen is Crowned
1st June 1533
On this day in history Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Abby. Long years of waiting, frustration and a plethora of emotions had accumulated into this one magnificent event… Anne Boleyn was finally Queen!
June 1st 1533, Wit Sunday, at approximately 7am people began to gather at Westminster Hall and it was at a little before 9am that Anne Boleyn arrived. She was dressed in purple velvet coronation robes trimmed with ermine, her long dark hair cascaded down her back and she wore a coronet upon her head.
From Westminster Hall Anne Boleyn walked seven hundred yards upon deep blue carpet which lead right to the high alter within Westminster Abby. As she walked the canopy of cloth of gold from yesterday’s procession was carried over her head. Before her was carried the sceptre of gold and the rod of ivory topped by a dove and also the Earl of Oxford, the Lord Great Chamberlin, carrying the crown of St Edward. Behind Anne walked the Bishops of London and Winchester and the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk carried Anne’s long train. Behind these were her ladies and other noble women wearing scarlet clothing.
Within the Abby all of the great peers, Lords, judges and other noble men and officials gathered as well as four bishops, two archbishops and twelve abbots, all of whom were dressed in their finest clothing. Henry VIII watched the whole coronation hidden behind a lattice work screen. Truly this day was all about Anne Boleyn.
Upon entering Westminster Abby Anne proceeded to the choir where upon a dais two steps high was St Edward’s Chair draped in cloth of gold. Here Anne Boleyn sat for her coronation. The coronation consisted of the High Mass and then Anne moved to kneel before the alter. It was here that Archbishop Cranmer prayed over Anne Boleyn and then anointed her. Returning to St Edward’s Chair Anne Boleyn was crowned with St Edward’s Crown, the gold sceptre and rod of ivory. She was now, in the eyes of the Church and God, Queen of England.
After the Te Deum was sung St Edward’s Crown was exchanged for a lighter one, costumed and made uniquely for Anne. Next Anne took the sacrament and made an offering to the shrine of the saint.
With the coronation service finally over Anne and all of the nobles, churchmen, ladies etc. returned to Westminster Hall where a great feast was prepared. Anne withdrew to her chambers for a short time while all eight hundred guests were seated.
Anne Boleyn sat at the head of Westminster Hall at a great marble table which was set on a dais twelve steps up. She sat on the King’s great marble chair, with a more comfortable chair fitted inside. She sat under a cloth of estate. Standing by Anne was the Dowager Countess of Oxford and the Countess of Worcester who would hold up a cloth to hide Anne’s face if she wished to spit or touch her mouth. The only other person to share the table with Anne was the Archbishop of Canterbury, but he sat a good deal down to her right. Below Anne were four long tables where the great noblemen and woman and members of the church sat according to their rank. Anne’s husband Henry VIII and the French and Venetian Ambassadors sat in a special box which overlooked the high table. Truly Anne Boleyn was the centre of attention at this great event.
Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk and high steward, was responsible for this great feast and for the event he wore a doublet and jacket which was covered with beautiful pearls. Throughout the feast he rode about on a horse which was covered with crimson velvet. In addition to the Duke of Suffolk, Lord William Howard also rode on a horse which was covered in purple velvet embroided with the Howard white lion. Lord Howard was in charge of serving the banquet.
The feast was a magnificent event and there were twenty eight dishes for the first course, twenty four dishes for the second course and thirty for the third course. It is unknown how much this magnificent event cost, but surely with such pomp, glamor and so many lavish dishes, Henry VIII must have spent a huge sum of money upon his new Queen.
At the end of the evening when Anne Boleyn left the great feast it is reported that she said “I thank you all for the honour ye have done to me this day” (Ives 2009, p. 181).
Once again it must be kept in mind that all throughout this extraordinarily long day, full of great religious and social importance Anne Boleyn was six months pregnant. She endured such a draining and exhausting day, once again, with great poise and dignity. She was now, in the eyes of the law, God and the Church, not only King Henry VIII’s wife but also Queen of England and within her belly was (what many believed to be) the next heir to the Tudor throne.
A sketch of Queen Anne Boleyn's Coronation Feast at Westminster Hall
Hu asdf Ives, E 2009, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.
Starkey, D 2003, Six Wives The Queens of Henry VIII, Vintage, London.
Weir, A 1991, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Grove Press, New York.