What’s Hidden in the Book of Hours That Belonged to Anne Boleyn

When Anne Boleyn failed to produce a male heir to King Henry the VIII, she was executed at his command on trumped-up charges. As she walked to her execution, Bonelyn handed her prayer book to a lady in waiting. Modern research of the Book of Hours has shown hidden writing on the pages that were previously unnoticed.

The Book of Hours - Anne Boleyn's prayer book.
Anne Boleyn Was Executed

Anne was executed on May 19th, 1536 when she was between 28 and 32 years old. King Henry the VIII ordered Anne Boleyn’s execution under the charges of treason, witchcraft, adultery, and incest. However, the queen was only guilty of not being able to give the king a male heir. Upon her death, the king did his best to make sure she became forgotten by getting rid of her belongings, images, and any other item that would keep her in someone’s memory.

King Henry VIII
The Queen’s Prayer Book

Just before her execution, Queen Anne Boleyn handed her personal prayer book to one of her trusted ladies in waiting. This book was missing for centuries until it was discovered in Anne’s family home once it was bought by William Waldorf Astor, a wealthy businessman. According to historian Kate MacCaffrey who spent a year studying the Book of Hours, anyone who was caught with any item that belonged to the late Queen Anne would have been considered a traitor, which speaks of how much danger the women protecting the book were actually in.

Anne Boleyn
What New Research Showed

When the pages of the Book of Hours were examined under ultraviolet lights. Four names were found inscribed on the pages. The names Gage, West, Shirley, and Guildford were connected to Elizabeth Hill, one of Anne’s childhood friends. McCaffrey believes that these Tudor women passed the book between each other, keeping it safe for Elizabeth I, Anne’s daughter, to protect the memory of their unjustly persecuted and executed friend.

Queen Elizabeth I