A Kentish Scrapbook

PUBLISHED: 15:05 28 December 2014 | UPDATED: 15:05 28 December 2014

Ann of Cleeves portrait at Hever Castle

Ann of Cleeves portrait at Hever Castle

Archant

Our history sleuth unearths the stories behind Kent’s rich heritage from Januarys past, from Anne of Cleves at Hever to time dropping in Deal

Following the death of his 
third wife, Jane Seymour, 
King Henry VIII found himself 
yet again in want of a wife.

Never one to overlook the possibility of turning a situation to his advantage, Henry sought to strengthen England’s alliance with Germany and, with a little persuasion from Thomas Cromwell, his eye fell on 
the two daughters of the Duke of Cleves.

Both Anne and her sister Amelia were deemed potential candidates so Henry 
sent the acclaimed portraitist Hans Holbein to paint their miniatures. Based on Henry’s preference for Anne’s likeness, Thomas Cromwell duly arranged the match.

In a plan that backfired dramatically, Henry decided to have a little sport with his future wife when she arrived in England and travelled to her lodgings at Rochester, where he entered in disguise and kissed her. How Anne responded is unknown but, from that moment, events did not go to plan.

Henry decided that his future queen wasn’t quite as polished nor as beautiful as he’d expected and tried desperately to get out of the marriage. This couldn’t be done without putting the political alliance at risk so, on 6 January 1540, they were married.

Just six months later, however, when 
the political alliance had coincidentally 
lost importance, their union was annulled on the basis that Henry had been unable 
to consummate his marriage with ‘the Flanders mare’. Anne’s thoughts on being married to Henry, living in an unfamiliar land and being surrounded by unflattering gossip are not recorded, but she wisely agreed. In recognition of her acceptance, Henry awarded her the honorary title 
of ‘The King’s Sister’, £500 a year, a 
staffed household and two houses.

To increase her status and income she was also allowed to lease a number of manors, including Hever Castle, which Anne owned until her death in 1557. How much time she spent there is a mystery and, apart from a couple of stunning portraits, her presence is invisible.

The only evidence that she actually visited her castle comes in the form of two letters, one written to her brother, thanking him for some hunting birds, and the other written to Mary Tudor in 1554, signed 
‘from my poore house of Hever’.

The castle is, of course, the childhood home of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. For Anne of Cleves, perhaps, 
the surroundings and the fact that, even now, Anne Boleyn is supposed to haunt the property, proved a little too much to bear.

More from Kent Life

Thu, 12:21

From 4th July, pubs will be reopening their doors in the first time for months as lockdown restrictions ease. We’ve gathered some must visit pubs in Kent to revisit

Read more

Here are 12 places that may have flown under your radar before but are well worth seeking out

Read more

Kent is blessed with fine and indeed famous country houses, but over the decades has lost as many of its grander houses as it retains. A new book by Martin Easdown reveals 120 examples that have simply disappeared

Read more
Tue, 11:34

Take our quiz to see if you can decipher the town or place in Kent from the emojis

Read more
Tue, 11:10

Enjoy three of Kent’s best and most loved cycle rides which take in lots of the county’s beautiful coastlines

Read more
Tue, 10:00

Thinking of moving to or within Kent? Every month we pick three stunning houses for sale that we’re sure you’ll love

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke to six of Kent’s leading business people about how they have kept going through the coronavirus

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We caught up with Will Edge, founder and distiller at Greensand Ridge Distillery to see how he has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke with the MD of Whiting and Hammond to see how he has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke with baker and cookery school owner Jane Beedle to see how she has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Latest Competitions & Offers

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life