Hampton Courting – Anne Boleyn

Hello! I hope you’re all well?

I was asked a very long time ago to blog my thoughts and experiences on this traineeship, which I have fully intended to do. It just appears that they are all coming late in the day, which I can only profusely apologise for. How have my beloved readers been able to go on?! I feel a bit like George R.R. Martin.

I digress. A couple of months ago, as part of ECHOES (a live interpretation project being developed at Christchurch Mansion), I was allowed to tag along on a research trip to the Royal Palace of Hampton Court. OK, so I confess, I kind of had an ulterior motive to wanting to visit. As many of my colleagues, friends, family members, pets and passers-by know, I have a historical fascination with Anne Boleyn. Some might say an obsession, but I maintain it’s purely educational. This has of course culminated from years of reading historical non-fiction, fiction, watching TV series (The Tudors is amazing, if not quite accurate) and documentaries. So, to get the opportunity to visit a place where I know for a fact she lived and was Queen, was too good an opportunity to miss.

I visited with the rest of the Visitor Services team based here in Ipswich Museums and what a day we had! It’s at this stage that I’d like to point out I actually did do some research while I was there. For his ECHOES character, my colleague Stuart (Ipswich Museums Duty Officer) had chosen our very own Leicester Devereux, who resided in Christchurch Mansion; and I was helping with the research. The Devereux’s had a mixed history at Tudor and Elizabethan court, passing in and out of favour multiple times. In the case of Leicester’s cousin, Robert Devereux, the ending was particularly bad; he was beheaded for treason. While researching, I discovered that Roberts great grandmother was none other than Mary Boleyn, sister to Queen Anne, who also had a long affair with Henry VIII. We all know that Henry VIII had multiple illegitimate children, and I’m pretty certain in my own mind that Robert is descended from such stock. So the connections are there for my beloved Anne.. just.

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All in all it was a most rewarding day. What an unbelievable place it is. I cannot imagine living there among such splendor. Stuart pointed out that if you were Henry VIII, and this was one of your many palaces, you’d be pretty convinced that you were King of everything and that you could do anything you pleased.

Oh, and can I just add, the wine fountain is outrageous. I have to get one of these. (Hampton Court, or anyone who could hook me up with one, please get in touch).

Until next time dear friends,

Joe

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