Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The ghost of Anne Boleyn at Blickling Hall

There is a strong tradition of the Boleyn's haunting Blickling Hall near Alysham in Norfolk, not just Anne but also her father, Thomas, and her brother, George. Blickling was home to Anne's parents, Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard, until 1505 when Thomas's father died and they moved to Hever castle in Kent.

There are no official records of Anne Boleyn's birth date, or place of birth, but many historians, including Antonia Fraser, put Anne's date of birth at around 1501 although others have placed it as late as 1507. If she was born before 1505, which is highly likely, it would probably have been at Blickling.

Local legend says that on the anniversary of her execution Anne returns to Blickling in a carriage driven by a headless coachman drawn by headless horses. Anne herself is said to carry her head on her lap.

National Trust staff have over the years had several encounters with the ghost of a lady dressed in grey who some believe to be the spirit of Anne Boleyn returning to her first childhood home. In the Long Gallery library a member of staff watched a grey figure looking at books gradually fade away leaving a book open at a picture of Anne Boleyn.

Employee Sydney Hancock saw the grey lady walking by the lake, when asked if she needed help she responded, “That for which I seek has long since gone”. Hancock momentarily looked away and the lady disappeared.

The grey lady is even said to have signed for a delivery on the anniversary of Anne's death. Next day the delivery company phoned to say they hadn't got a signature, yet, the driver was adamant that it had been signed for.

In 1985 National Trust employee Steve Ingram was woken by footsteps coming into his bedroom at Blickling, when he switched on the light there was no one there. This happened on the anniversary of Anne's execution.

Anne isn't the only Boleyn ghost visiting Blickling on the 19th May. Also travelling by phantom coach drawn by headless horses is Anne's father, Thomas Boleyn, he carries his head under his arm, it has flames gushing from the mouth. Thomas Boleyn has been cursed, for a thousand years, to journey over twelve bridges between Blickling and Wroxham Broad on the anniversary of his daughter's death. He is pursued by screaming fiends from hell.

Anne's brother, George Boleyn, who went to the block just two days before Anne on 17th May is said to wander the grounds of Blickling. But on the night of the 19th May his headless body is dragged across the Norfolk countryside by four headless horses.

It isn't just the Boleyn family who haunt Blickling Hall, in a 2007 National Trust survey it was voted Britain's most haunted historic house.

Former owner and model for Shakespeare's character Falstaff, Sir John Fastolfe, has been seen from time to time throughout the house.

Ghostly groans that emanate from the west turret are believed to be those of Sir Henry Hobart who was mortally wounded in a duel fought on nearby Cawston Heath in 1698.

Gregorian chants have been heard in the Brown Room, site of a family chapel in Jacobean times.

A ghost dog roams the estate. The dog is believed to be the ghost of a 17th century gamekeeper's dog who was killed when found by the dead body of his master.

The fragrance of wild violets has been reported in the mausoleum, a perfume favoured by the 2nd Earl's wife.

There was also supposed to be a locked room somewhere in the house that had such an oppressive atmosphere that no one wanted to go near it. Known as “old Bullen's Study” it's location has been forgotten.

Visitor information:

Nothing of the large brick house built by Sir Geoffrey Boleyn in the 1450's and inhabited by Anne now survives. The magnificent Jacobean Blickling Hall which stands on the site today dates from the 17th and 18th century, it is owned and managed by the National Trust. Please see website for opening times and special events.

Blickling Hall

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