Queen Elizabeth I, the Boleyns and their connection to Norwich Cathedral

Gloriana,  The Virgin Queen

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Hatfield House, where Elizabeth spent most of her early life

Elizabeth the 1st, one of the greatest monarchs in English history should never have come to the throne.

She was the second daughter to King Henry VIII, the first and only child to his second wife Anne Boleyn.

Anne Boleyn married King Henry VIII in 1533, and Elizabeth was born at Greenwich Palace in September of the same year.

Her sex was a huge disappointment to her parents, although her mother remained devoted to her. Anne Boleyn was executed by Henry when Elizabeth was not yet 3 years old.

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The grounds at Hatfield House

Henry had been expecting a boy, and was devastated that he didn’t have the heir he had desperately wanted.

If only he knew that the daughter he declared illegitimate grew up to be a formidable Queen, reigning over England for 45 years.

She had the 9th longest reign in British history.

The Boleyns

The Boleyn family seemed to have originated in Norfolk , with the early known Boleyn’s residing in Salle, a village about 10 miles from Norwich.

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Boleyn Coat of Arms, from Wikipedia

It is also said that the Boleyn’s descended from the Counts of Boulogne.

The Boleyn family began to rise to prominence in the 15th century through Geoffrey Boleyn, Anne’s Great Grandfather. Geoffrey was a successful merchant, was knighted by King Henry VI and became Mayor of London in ca. 1457.

He was eventually wealthy enough to purchase Blickling Hall in Norfolk, and Hever Castle in Kent, both to become homes to Anne.

Geoffrey’s son William, Anne’s grandfather was also successful, he was created a Knight of the Bath by King Richard III, and became the High

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Hever Castle

Sheriff of Kent in 1489 and High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1500.

Thomas Boleyn was Geoffrey’s son and heir and inherited his properties.

Thomas Boleyn was a diplomat in the court of Henry VII, and escorted Margaret Tudor to her marriage to James IV of Scotland in 1509.

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Inner Courtyard at Hever Castle

Whilst Anne Boleyn was in favour with Henry VIII, his position rose and he had many titles bestowed upon him including being elevated to the peerage as Viscount Rochford, and was created the Earl of Whiltshire.

Anne Boleyn’s family resided at Blickling Hall between 1499 and 1505.

 

It is thought that Anne was most probably born at Blickling, but there is debate about this, right down to the year of her birth.

The family later moved to Hever Castle in Kent.

The Boleyns and Norwich Cathedral

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Boleyn Chantry Chapel, Norwich Cathedral

Anne Boleyn’s great grandmother Anne Hoo (married Geoffrey Boleyn) and her grandfather William are both laid to rest in Norwich Cathedral.

Anne Hoo’s monument is still there, although it is without its original brass. Her son William was laid to rest close to her, and the Boleyn Chantry chapel is on the south side near the High Altar.

You can view the Boleyn coat of Arms here.

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Queen Elizabeth 1’s Visit to Norwich Cathedral

In 1578, Queen Elizabeth 1 visited Norwich and the cathedral. A seat was designed for her usage, and a set of stairs were placed to the left of the High altar. It is said that she asked to sit facing her Boleyn relatives which I find incredibly touching seeing that she never acknowledged her mother in public.

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View of the Boleyn Chantry from the stairs built for Elizabeth
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High Altar, with the Boleyn Chantry to the right

If you would like to see more photos of Norwich, Hatfield or Hever, please visit my flickr

References:
AnneBoleynFiles.com – Family tree
Portraits of Queen Elizabeth 1
Wikipedia – List of Monarchs in Britain By Length of Reign
Wikipedia – Elizabeth 1
Wikipedia – William Boleyn
Handbook to the Cathedrals of England by Richard John King
The First Anne Boleyn – Elizabeth Norton
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4 thoughts on “Queen Elizabeth I, the Boleyns and their connection to Norwich Cathedral

  1. It is a fantastic coincidence that you post this interesting article here now,when only a few minutes ago I posted my latest comment in a debate I started in the Shakespeare group of LinkedIn in which I tried to convince those who are under the effect of traditional lies about Shakespeare,that his whole theatre was different from what we were taught, because Elizabeth was not happy to be a Tudor.People who haven’t even read what I say about this on my website,in my book and elsewhere,start the debate saying that Shakespeare dramatized Tudor chronicles to please Elizabeth.And my approach is the opposite of this.He was Ricardian and the Queen tolerated his grotesque mocking of Tudor chronicles because she secretly hated being a Tudor

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! Certainly is interesting. I feel Elizabeth never forgot her mother, even if it was unpolitic to mention her – there is a ring that she always wore that has a miniature of Anne Boleyn along with a portrait of herself

  2. Thank you! Visiting Norwich in Nov. Staying at the Maids Head. They say she slept there, I believe as Queen she probably stayed in the Cathedral. Regardless, I’m looking forward to my visit.

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