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Anne Boleyn Executed at the Tower of London

Prior to her execution, Anne Boleyn was held at the Tower of London, in the apartments originally created for her coronation celebrations. She is buried in the Chapel Royal of Saint...

On 24 April 1536, Henry VIII created a commission, headed by Queen Anne Boleyn's uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, to investigate some unspecified wrongdoing. Shortly after, five men, including the Queen's own brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, were arrested. They were accused of adultery with the Queen, and of conspiring against the King. Smeaton confessed to adultery, perhaps with the aid of torture. The others protested their innocence vehemently, but to no avail.

Tower of London

Anne was arrested on 2 May and taken to the Tower where she was housed comfortably in the very apartments built especially for her for the occasion of her coronation just three years prior. Finally, on 15 May, Anne, Queen of England was tried in the Great Hall in the Tower of London, and despite a very eloquent defence, found guilty and sentenced to death.

The White Tower with the site of the former royal palace in the foreground and of the Coldharbour Gate to its left. © Historic Royal Palaces & James Brittain

Anne Boleyn was executed on 19 May, having sworn her innocence before taking the sacrament. Her remains were buried in the Church of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower precincts.

In Issue 1, Dr Alden Gregory looks at what is known of Anne's apartments at the Tower of London - when and how they were built and how they were furnished when Anne used them.

The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula

The Chapel is perhaps most well-known by history lovers as the final resting place of the Tudor queens and nobles who met a gruesome death within the Tower of London. However, this is just one of its numerous and varied functions. The use of the Tower in the early sixteenth century was largely as a store, foundry, mint and garrison. It is therefore best thought of, at this point, as a small town on the edge of the City of London.

The interior of the chapel © Historic Royal Palaces

Following the fire of 1512, this community of craftspeople, soldiers and administrators was without a place of worship - Saint John's in the White Tower being used as a store since 1320. Subsequently, under the direction of Sir Richard Cholmondley, then Lieutenant of the Tower, Walter Forster, Comptroller of the King's Works, set about building what is described as a 'parish church within the Tower' between 1519 and 1520 at a cost of £260.

In Issue 3, Alfred Hawkins explores the fascinating history of this chapel which has served, and continues to serve, the Tower's diverse community over the centuries.

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