In Newshistory

A carved falcon which sold at auction in 2019 for £75 as now been revealed as being Anne Boleyn’s heraldic emblem and has been valued at £200,000. It is now on loan to Hampton Court where it is being displayed.

The 16th century carved wooden bird is believed to have once adorned Anne Boleyn’s apartments at Hampton Court which was the favourite royal residence of her husband, King Henry VIII. It is thought that it was removed after the king ordered her execution and had all traces of her taken out of the palace. The carving is now on long term loan to Hampton Court.

Anne Boleyn was Henry VIII’s second wife and had a huge impact on the country during their brief marriage. It was her that began the English Reformation, which saw England break away from the Roman Catholic Church and establish the Church of England. Boleyn was executed on charges of adultery, incest and witchcraft alongside five men, including her own brother, who were accused of having had relations with the queen. There is little evidence to support these claims and historians believe it was likely that her strong nature and inability to give Henry a son were the real reasons why she fell from favour. Henry had already begun wooing his third wife prior to her arrest.

The falcon was discovered by Paul Fitzsimmons, an antiques dealer from Devon who spotted it at auction. Speaking to reporters, he said that he didn’t immediately recognise it as belonging to Anne Boleyn but did know that it had a royal connection because of the crown and sceptre. At the time of Henry and Anne’s wedding, the pair undertook a refurbishment project of Hampton Court, adding Anne’s heraldic emblems around the palace. Two remain in the Great Hall which likely went unnoticed by the King following Anne’s execution.

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