A Winter Honeymoon for Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII

It's likely that Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII married on November 14, 1532 after their return from visiting King Francis and attaining his tacit approval of Anne as Henry's consort. The wedding may have been at Dover Castle, where they lingered for a few days before starting the journey home. The royal apartments where they may have spent their wedding night still survive.

After five long years of legal wrangling, Henry finally held the woman he had longed for in his arms. While scholars still debate the exact date of their marriage, it seems the couple's physical relationship did begin around this date, and it seems unlikely they would have risked a pregnancy outside of wedlock after waiting all this time.

Henry never had the lavish, public weddings of his predecessors. His weddings were private - often held in the queen's chapel closet with only a handful of witnesses - and there is no record of a bedding ceremony with any of his wives. It's possibly an indication of how he saw his matrimonial affairs - as that of a private man and matters of the heart, rather than that of a kingdom. Despite his later protestations that it was all about obtaining an heir for England, his marital turmoils were all about Henry's personal desires.

Henry and Anne return trip from Dover to London as a honeymoon. The slow progress of the trip may have been aggravated by the weather. November 1532 was wet and stormy, so the notoriously bad English roads would have been muddy quagmires.

Their first stop after leaving Dover was at Sandwich, where they stayed for one night. The site of their lodgings is unknown, but author Natalie Grueninger believes it was probably at the friary, the only location large enough to house the royal retinue. Hosting the king was an honor, but an incredibly expensive one, and only the largest accommodations would do. Anne had with her a retinue of thirty high-born ladies,
 They headed next to Canterbury where they stayed at Lord Feneux's home, then to Sittingbourne where they stayed at the Lion Inn, and onward to Stone Castle, the home of Bridget Wingfield, Lady Tyrwhitt.

There had been some tension or conflict between Bridget and Anne, though we don't know what it was. Anne sent Bridget a letter, telling her:

"And therefore I pray you leave your indiscreet trouble, both for displeasing of God and also for displeasing of me, that doth love you so entirely." 

Bridget had been widowed August, and it appears she had already remarried by November to Sir Robert Tyrwhitt - a man who disliked Anne Boleyn. It's possible this created some tension between the women. 

Lady Bridget was later to supposedly make a confession on her deathbed which helped to seal the fate of Anne Boleyn. Someone - either her stepson or her husband - reported this statement at Anne's trial. We don't have a record of what Bridget supposedly said, other than a vague description of "bawdery and lechery." Some believe that Bridget discovered that Henry and Anne were sharing a bed under her roof and thought Anne was fornicating, unaware that they were secretly married.

Sir Robert's opposition to the Boleyn marriage doesn't seem to have made the king hesitate to accept overnight hospitality in Stone Castle, and it seems the king enjoyed his visit. That night, the Privy Purse accounts reveal the king lost over nine pounds at cards, playing Pope Julius with Anne Boleyn, Francis Weston and Francis Bryan.

They arrived at Eltham Palace on the 24th of November, and for a time, it appeared to the court at large as though nothing had changed. The secret remained with the select few who had witnessed the marriage. Anne Boleyn occupied the queen's apartments at Eltham, while Henry occupied the king's. Dd he slip down the corridor to her door in the dead of night with only a few faithful, silent servants, or was Anne brought to stay with him in his chamber? Or did they decide to go back to chastity for the time being, until they could announce their marriage?

One way or another, Henry had to move forward. On the 15th of November - the day after the likely date of Anne and Henry's marriage - a letter from Pope Clement arrived. Henry was threatened with excommunication if he did not leave Anne Boleyn and take Katharine of Aragon back as his wife within one month.

Anne Boleyn, the secret queen of England, began to plan for her coronation.

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