The ghost of Anne Boleyn
Posted on Tuesday, 9 June, 2009 | 9 comments
Columnist: Patrick Bernauw
The spirit of Henry VIII apparently sleeps peacefully. But the two wives he executed - Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard - still haunt the world they once lived in... This is the story of Anne Boleyn, who was believed to be guilty of treason, incest, adultery and... witchcraft! Accused of treason, incest, adultery and... witchcraft!
As a young girl, Anne Boleyn was sent to the French court and exposed to the influence of an immoral society. While her sister Mary was the mistress of Henry VIII, Anne thought she could do better and become the wife of the King of England. For six years she played the "hard-to-get" game she learned in Paris, and when Catherine of Aragon failed to produce a male heir, both Anne and Henry felt she could be the next Queen of England...
It is a fact that Anne was an arrogant Queen, causing endless troubles by her jealousies and improprieties. But she did not deserve to be accused of the worst of crimes, such as treason, incest (with her brother George, Lord Rochford), adultery (with four other men) and witchcraft.
To marry Anne, Henry broke with Rome and brought Protestantism to England. Roman Catholic writers have never forgiven her and attributed unspeakable crimes to her. In 1536, bishop Fisher was beheaded for refusing to acknowledge Henry as head of the Church. It was said Anne had his severed head brought to her on a dish, so she could stick a silver bodkin through his tongue. There also were rumours that "the concubine" had tried to poison Queen Catherine and Princess Mary, and that she - as a witch - was devoted to the foullest diabolism.
The one and only true crime of Anne Boleyn was that she - as Catherine of Aragon - was not able to produce an all-important male heir. So, Henry turned from her in disgust, not suspecting that the despised daughter she gave birth to would become England's finest Queen, Elizabeth I...
In April 1536, five men were arrested as being Anne's lovers, including her brother. Before they were tortured, all men said Anne was innocent, but under torture the Flemish musician Mark Smeaton accused her of being unfaithful to the King.Anne was arrested and, together with her brother, taken to the Tower of London.
In his anxiety to rid himself of her, Henry said Anne had bewitched him. At that time, it was widely believed Anne possessed a third nipple and a sixth finger on her left hand, and that - as a child - she had a curious dislike of church-bells. This was an aversion common to witches. Now it was clear that Anne Boleyn had entered into a pact with the Devil and that the King had been a victim of her devilish sorcery...
The five men were executed on May 17 and two days later Anne was beheaded. She wore a gay robe of damask over an underskirt of red and upon her wonderful black hair she had a pearl-embroidered hood. As she stood there on the scaffold, her dark eyes shining, laughing in the face of death, she made a joke about her little neck and the skill of the executioner. Her bravery caused the Governor of the Tower to write that "this lady had much joy and pleasure in death".
Anne was beheaded in the Tower and buried there. Her scornful courage was open to various interpretations by the superstitious minds of the 16th century. Some thought that her bravery merely proved she was anxious to go to her true consort, the Prince of Darkness... Oh Death, Let Pass My Very Guiltless Ghost
In the Tower of London, Anne penned this poem:
Rock me asleep
Bring on my quiet rest
Let pass my very guiltless ghost
Out of my careful breast
Ring out the doleful knell
Let it sound
My death tell
For I must die.
But Death brought no quiet rest for the spirit of Anne Boleyn... She has been seen in various places, particularly at the several homes where she once lived, and accompanied by the phantom coaches and headless horses that have always been associated with witchcraft and devil worship.
At Blickling Hall in Norfolk, Anne Boleyn makes a spectacular appearance every year upon the anniversary of her death. She drives up the avenue to the Hall in a coach, drawn by headless horses and a headless horseman, holding her dripping and severed head in her lap... Sometimes the whole grisly equipage vanishes into the air, sometimes Anne alone enters the Hall and walks the corridors until dawn. A similar ghastly vision has been seen driving furiously along the roads of Norfolk, followed by an otherworldly strange blue light.
Every Christmas-time, the ghost of Anne Boleyn has been reported in Kent, being driven up the avenue of Hever Castle at a furious pace and in a funeral coach drawn by six black headless horses. It was here, in this thirteenth-century castle, under the magnificent oak, that Henry courted both Anne and her sister Mary.
Also during Christmas-time, the Rochford district of Essex is haunted for twelve nights by a headless witch, dressed in a rich silken gown. Anne Boleyn lived at Rochford Hall when she was a girl.
The ghost of Anne Boleyn has often been seen standing at a window at Windsor Castle, but Anne's most persistent haunting is in the Tower, where she met her death... The Bloody Tower
Anne Boleyn was buried in the Church of St. Peter ad Vincular, within the Tower itself. Many years later her coffin was opened and she was identified by her infamous sixth finger. She is said to haunt this little church with a ghostly ritual in the aisle. Around 1880, this was witnessed by an officer of the guard, who noticed a light shining inside the church and asked the sentry outside what it was. The soldier said he did not know, nor did he wish to investigate the phenomenon. So the officer mounted a ladder, peered into the window and saw the church filled with an eerie glowing light, and a procession of people dressed in Elizabethan costume moving along the aisle. At the head of the procession was a splendidly dressed and bejewelled woman whose face ressembled the portrait of Anne Boleyn. Suddenly, the procession vanished, leaving the church in utter darkness.
The ghostly appearances of Anne Boleyn in the Tower are, as a rule, more horrific. In 1817 a sentry had a fatal heart attack after meeting her on a stairway, and in 1864 a soldier was court-martialled for being found asleep on duty. He claimed to have gone in a swoon after meeting the white figure of "a woman wearing a queer-looking bonnet with no head in it." - "Who goes there?" he yelled, and when he got no reply he made a thrust with his fixed bayonet. The following moment "a fiery flash" ran up his rifle and gave him a burning shock. Several witnesses told the court that they had seen the same headless woman in white near the Lieutenant's Lodgings that night. One officer who was in the Bloody Tower had heard the sentry yelling and saw him thrusting at the ghostly intruder with his bayonet. He saw the spectre walking through the bayonet... and through the sentry as well. The court-martial found the sentry not guilty.
In 1933, according to some newspaper reports, the ghost of Anne Boleyn again walked straight into the bayonet of a guard, and scared him so much he fled from his post shouting for help. The headless body of Anne Boleyn also appears near the place of her execution and some have even witnessed her walking in the Tower, carrying her head...
More photographs and a video of Anne Boleyn, at the Midnight Hour walking the Bloody Tower, her Head Tucked Underneath her Arm: The Traveling Ghost of a Headless Witch, Anne Boleyn
The true story of Catherine Howard: Famous Phantom Visitors of Hampton Court.
Copyright by Patrick Bernauw, A Haunted World Tour.Article Copyright© Patrick Bernauw - reproduced with permission.