Wooden bird bought for £75 revealed to be Anne Boleyn’s – and is now worth £200,000

1 year ago 115

It was catalogued arsenic an “antique carved woody bird” erstwhile it was auctioned for £75 successful 2019. Now it has been identified arsenic Anne Boleyn’s heraldic emblem, the 16th-century royal falcon that astir apt adorned her backstage apartments astatine Hampton Court Palace – lone to beryllium removed aft Henry VIII ordered her execution and the eradication of each traces of her. Its existent worthy is believed to beryllium astir £200,000.

The exquisite and richly decorated oak carving is successful specified bonzer information that it adjacent bears its archetypal gilding and colour scheme. In 1536, hardly 3 years aft it was made, Boleyn was beheaded connected bogus adultery charges – conscionable due to the fact that she could not springiness Henry a antheral heir, lone a daughter, the aboriginal Elizabeth I.

Anne Boleyn's falcon emblem
The falcon was listed arsenic an ‘antique carved woody bird’ erstwhile auctioned for £75 successful 2019. Photograph: Paul Fitzsimmons/Marhamchurch Antiques

The falcon is to beryllium placed connected semipermanent indebtedness to Hampton Court by Paul Fitzsimmons, a Devon antiques dealer, who spotted it successful an auction.

Tracy Borman, a starring Tudor historiographer and associated main curator for Historic Royal Palaces, the foundation that manages Hampton Court, said: “The irony is that Anne Boleyn is the astir fashionable of the six wives and she’s astir apt the 1 with the slightest surviving grounds … due to the fact that she was obliterated by Henry. So that makes this truly rather peculiar and evidently I’m precise excited astir it. When I realised however this perfectly would person fitted with the decorative scheme, I had a shivers-down-the-spine moment.”

Boleyn was the 2nd of six wives of England’s astir celebrated king, a matrimony that led him to interruption with the Roman Catholic religion and brought astir the English Reformation.

Borman believes that, aft Boleyn’s autumn from grace, it would person been taken down and kept by 1 of her supporters: “It is simply a singular survivor. The truly absorbing happening is that idiosyncratic evidently wanted to prevention it for posterity. So it’s apt to person been a protagonist of Anne.”

Anne Boleyn.
Anne Boleyn

She noted that 2 falcons successful the Great Hall ceiling astatine Hampton Court are truthful precocious up – and would person been blackened by fume from the roaring occurrence – that Henry would not person noticed them, but that this 1 is much apt to person been successful Anne’s backstage apartments, wrong easier scope of whoever wanted to prevention it. She said: “They’re not precisely the aforesaid arsenic this one, but similar. This is simply a crowned falcon. It’s fascinating due to the fact that each of this decorative strategy was earlier Anne really became queen. But it’s erstwhile she and Henry had implicit ambition that she was astir to go queen.

“So they acceptable to work, busily decorating Hampton Court, acceptable for that glorious day. Of course, it each went alternatively horribly wrong.

“It’s beauteous due to the fact that it’s not lone crowned but it’s carrying a sceptre. What’s truly absorbing astir it is that – dissimilar the Great Hall examples – this 1 wears an imperial crown. That was an implicit motion to the information that Henry by present had got imperial ambitions. He was trying to supplant the pope’s authority, promoting himself arsenic immoderate benignant of emperor alternatively than conscionable a king. There are different crowned falcons that we cognize about, that were utilized for illustration astatine Anne’s coronation successful the pageant. But there’s nary notation of imperial crowns, truthful this is precise overmuch Henry and Anne doing their precise champion for a benignant of PR stunt. The decoration of Hampton Court was each astir their ambitions and their defiance of the pope.”

Anne Boleyn’s heraldic emblem being restored
The falcon was blackened, perchance by soot, earlier being restored by Ian Crick-Smith. Photograph: Paul Fitzsimmons/Marhamchurch Antiques

Fitzsimmons, of Marhamchurch Antiques successful Buckfastleigh, specialises successful furnishings and creation from the 15th to 17th centuries. In spotting the carving, helium “knew it was a bully thing”. “I didn’t cognize instantly that it was the badge of Anne Boleyn, but I knew that it had immoderate benignant of royal transportation due to the fact that it had the crown and sceptre, and it was a royal bird.”

It excessively was rather blackened, perchance with soot, truthful it whitethorn besides person been supra a fireplace. Noting its delicate restoration by Ian Crick-Smith, helium said: “What’s astonishing astir it is the condition, which is astir similar the time it was made … That’s truthful uncommon for a Tudor piece.” Measuring 20cm by 20.5cm, it is rather a size.

Its find volition beryllium included successful Borman’s forthcoming book, Crown & Sceptre, a broad past of the monarchy, to beryllium published connected 18 November.She writes: “The pistillate for whom [Henry] had overturned the full religion and authorities of his kingdom had go utterly abhorrent to him … Anne was beheaded aft being recovered blameworthy of adultery with 5 men … The charges, which were astir surely false, were devised by Cromwell, present an implacable force of the queen … Although [Henry] ordered each traces of Anne to beryllium removed from his palaces, a fewer tin inactive beryllium seen today. One of the astir bonzer is simply a richly decorated falcon (Anne’s heraldic badge) that erstwhile adorned Hampton Court.”

Fitzsimmons said: “It needs to spell backmost to the instauration from wherever it came … It was the spot of Henry VIII, [who] ordered them to beryllium made for his caller wife, but arsenic ordered them to beryllium removed.

“This could person been removed virtually arsenic Anne Boleyn was astir to person her caput chopped off.”