This Spectred Isle – The Ghost of Anne Boleyn

Do the ghosts of Anne Boleyn and her father haunt Norfolk every May? Cavan Scott explores the countryside's strangest tales

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On 19 May 1536 a sword seperated the head of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, from her graceful shoulders. However, there are a number of legends concerning what happened to her body. Some accounts say that her corpse was stuffed, head beneath her arm, into an old chest and buried in the Tower of London’s chapel, while others claim that friends of the family stole it for burial in Norfolk, the county of her birth. In 1836, her heart was even rumoured to have been discovered bricked into a wall of an Elvedon Park church.

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Whatever happened to her body, her troubled sprit is said to return to Blickling Hall in Norfolk every year, on the anniversary of her death. A coach, pulled by four headless horses, races up the driveway with the equally headless form of Anne sitting on plump cushions, her decapitated head resting on her own lap. When the steeds have come to a halt before the house, the former queen disembarks and, dressed in white, carries her dripping head into the National Trust property. There she inspects every room until daybreak, looking for the room in which she was born. She is unlikely to find it though, as the current hall was built in the 17th century on the site of the Boleyn family home.

Anne isn’t the only Boleyn spirit to roam the Norfolk countryside on this fateful night as there is another phantom coach, this time driven by the insane spirit of her father, Thomas. As a penance for betraying Anne at her trial, Thomas is cursed to cross 12 bridges across Norfolk on this night, including the Oxnead, Meyton and Buxton bridges. Thomas also carries his own severed head, although angry flames are said to flash from his screaming mouth. It’s no wonder that he’s a bit miffed. First of all, his coach is said to be pursued by a pack of demons baying for his blood, and secondly, the curse isn’t due to be lifted until 2536, when Thomas’s spirit can finally find rest.

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