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20 Most Interesting Fun Facts About Henry VIII's Wife Anne Boleyn

How much do you know about the doomed Tudor queen Anne Boleyn? We've put together some amazing facts all about Anne and her amazing life! See how many you knew!

Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:  July 15th 2022

Today Anne Boleyn is probably best remembered as the Tudor queen who met a grisly end - but there's so much more to her than that! Find out all about Anne's life, her death and her relationship with England's craziest king with these awesome facts we've put together! How much did you know about Anne? If you liked this, why not check out more history facts here? And if you want to know more about the kind of castles Anne lived in, we've also got castle facts too! We've even got William Shakespeare facts, if you want to know all about this awesome Tudor playwright!

1. She Was From A Powerful Family

Wolf Hall | Company Pictures | BBC Two

The Boleyn family were already pretty big wigs in the Tudor court - her dad, Thomas, was the Earl of Wiltshire and was a diplomat and politician. But Thomas wanted even more power - so he planned to make sure King Henry would meet his daughter, Anne. There was just one problem - Henry was already married...for now!

2. She Lived In France

When she was only a teenager, Anne became the maid of honour (a bit like a lady in waiting) to the French queen, Claude. She also spent time in the Netherlands, where he dad was a diplomat. This meant she was educated in the ways of the French court, which were considered cool and fashionable by the English.

3. She was The Queen's Lady in Waiting

Like many noblewomen, Anne was a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon before she met Henry. This introduced her to the world of the Royal court and gave her opportunities to meet Henry and impress him with her wit and charm.

4. She Had A Famous Necklace

If you know two things about Anne, it's that she got her head cut off, and she wore a famous 'B' pearl necklace! The 'B' stands for Boleyn, her family name, and is visibly in several portraits of her. It was her favourite necklace and showed her loyalty to her family. Would you fancy wearing a necklace like that? After she died, it was passed on to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I.

5. Her Sister Was Also The King's Girlfriend

Mr Boleyn was REALLY keen to climb that social ladder, and so as well as Anne, he also made sure his daughter Mary was in Henry's sights! Mary might even have had some of Henry's children, although she never married him, so they weren't heirs to the throne. That makes Anne and Mary's children cousin-siblings. Weird!

6. She Grew Up In Hever Castle

Anne, along with her siblings Mary and George, was brought up in Hever castle in Kent. The castle is still there today, and you can visit it and see the rooms and grounds where Anne and her siblings would have played!

7. She Was Very Talented

Anne's plan to get Henry's attention meant she had to be charming, fashionable and witty. But she was also talented in other ways - she spoke French very well, was a good dancer, played many instruments and could sing. All of the accomplishments were considered highly attractive in a young lady.

8. She Was Elizabeth I's Mother

Not everyone knows that Anne Boleyn's only child went on to become Elizabeth I of England! Henry was initially very disappointed, because he wanted a son to be heir to the throne, but he was affectionate towards Elizabeth, even after her mother was executed. She became queen after her half siblings Edward and Mary passed away.

9. Henry Wanted Her To Have A Son

If you know anything about Henry, it's that he was DESPERATE for a son. Not because he wanted to teach him golf or watch Bruce Willis movies with him, but because he needed an heir to the Tudor dynasty. Henry's dad, Henry VII, had won the throne in battle, which meant the Tudor claim was pretty new and quite wobbly. If he wanted to avoid another war and anyone else taking the throne, he needed a boy to take his place (Girls weren't allowed!). So when he married Anne, there was lots of pressure for her to give him an heir!

10. She Wasn't A Witch

Once Anne failed to give Henry a son, he grew tired of her. He was also pretty annoyed she had been the reason he'd changed all of English religion. On top of that, she wasn't very popular. Henry and his court needed a reason to get rid of her, so rumours began spreading that she was a witch who had enchanted the king. Of course, in reality there is no such thing, but that didn't stop people whispering. They also spread rumours that she had had affairs, and generally done some pretty bad things!

11. She Probably Didn't Have Six Fingers

Like the witchcraft accusation, a rumour persisted throughout history that Anne had six fingers on one hand. While it's probably that she might have had a growth on her hand, no portraits show a sixth finger, and its unlikely that Henry would have married someone with a deformity, which were considered a sign of evil in those days.

12. She Was Kept In The Tower Of London

After Henry had Anne arrested for alleged crimes against him, she was kept in the Tower of London. This sounds grim, but in those days the Tower was also a palace, and so, even though Anne would have been very scared, she would have been comfortable and well treated. You can still visit the Tower today and see the rooms she lived in!

13. She Was Executed By Sword

Henry had Anne executed for her alleged crimes - but really, he just wanted to marry someone else! Beheading was considered a more dignified method of execution than hanging, and was reserved for the nobility. Anne was executed by sword, not an axe, and the executioner was a French swordsman, who was considered very skilled. It was meant to be a quick and dignified death - thanks, Henry! She was executed inside the Tower grounds, and you can still see the spot today.

14. Henry Got Married Right Away Afterwards

Henry didn't waste much time before his third marriage to Jane Seymour, who was a lady in waiting to Anne (Tudor queens needed to look out for those ladies in waiting!) Jane was everything Anne wasn't - demure, shy and unlikely to argue with him. They married only eleven days after Anne's execution!

15. You Can Visit Her Grave Sight

Anne, as a traitor, wasn't given a proper royal burial, but she was entombed inside the Chapel Royal St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower, where you can still see her grave today. It's only about 65 metres from where she was executed, and there is a memorial plaque.

16. She's Meant To Haunt Lots of Places

Anne might be dead, but she's very busy. In fact, she's one of the most active ghosts in Britain! She's supposed to haunt Hever Castle, Hampton Court, The Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Blickling Hall (where she rides in a phantom carriage pulled by headless horses) and Rochford Hall! What a commute!

17. There Are Lots of Films and Shows About Her

The Other Boleyn Girl | Columbia Pictures | Sony | Alison Owen | Justin Chadwick

Anne is one of the most portrayed figures in history, and there's been loads of films and shows about her, including The Other Boleyn Girl, the Tudors, Wolf Hall, Henry VIII and His Six Wives and A Man For All Seasons. For whatever reason, we can't get enough of her fascinating story and her tragic end.

18. She's Been Portrayed By Lots of Famous Actors

Anne Boleyn | Fable Pictures | Channel 5

Over the years some of Hollywood's biggest figures have portrayed Anne. This includes Natalie Portman, Claire Foy, Vanessa Redgrave and Helena Bonham Carter. Most recently, she's been portrayed by Jodie Turner-Smith in a TV series about Anne.

19. She Has Lots of Relatives Alive Today

Anne has plenty of relatives alive today, even though her daughter didn't have any children, meaning Anne has no direct descendants. Through her sister Mary, she had nieces and nephews who went on to have many descendants. These include the current Queen Elizabeth and her family, amongst other members of the British aristocracy.

20. She Changed the Course of English and British History

Anne is a divisive figure, but there's no denying British history would be totally different without her! Because of Anne, Henry split from the Catholic church and created the Church of England. This had a huge impact on social hierarchy and even led to violence, bloodshed and war, as well as the destruction of the Catholic church in Britain. Who knows what would have happened if she'd never met Henry!