Fitzsimmons, from Devon, in southwestern England, now plans to gift the 16th-century falcon to Hampton Court Palace, where the wooden bird would likely have graced Boleyn’s private rooms, on a long-term loan. He said he was delighted to make the discovery after matching the bird with a drawing from Hampton Court Palace depicting the same piece. An analysis of the bird against the drawing confirmed his hunch.
“It’s a really incredible find because Anne Boleyn is probably the most famous woman of all time,” Fitzsimmons told CNN. “And Henry VIII did his best to completely erase every trace of her. All her emblems were removed from the palace, and nothing survived,” he said, adding: “This is really quite spectacular because it is in perfect condition and has achieved everything. its original gilding, all its original painting. ”
The famous Henry VIII separated from the Catholic Church to divorce his first wife, Catherine, to marry Boleyn in 1533. The move led to the creation of a separate Church of England. But three years later, he accused Boleyn of adultery, incest, and conspiracy, and ordered her death.
A 19th century painting depicting the first meeting of Henry VIII of England and Anne Boleyn. Credit: Heritage Images / Hulton Fine Art Collection / Getty Images
Fitzsimmons said that while the Boleyn bird’s amazing value is remarkable, the most important thing to him is making sure it “gets back to the right place where it should be.”
“He really has to go back to Hampton Court Palace,” Fitzsimmons said of Henry VIII’s favorite residence. “It has enormous value. But it is not about value.”
Historian Tracy Borman, chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that runs Hampton Court Palace, told CNN that she is also excited about the discovery of the Boleyn Wood Falcon.
“This discovery is enormously significant. Artifacts related to Anne Boleyn are incredibly rare, thanks to the fact that Henry VIII wanted all traces of her removed from his palaces after her execution in 1536,” Borman said.
Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII of England. Credit: Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Borman explained that the bird is “very similar to other carvings for the Great Hall at Hampton Court in preparation for Anne to become queen and was probably part of the decorative scheme. The carving is very fine and the restoration work has uncovered the beautiful gold that suggests it was an item of high status. “
He added that the bird “was probably saved by a supporter of Anne”, and said that it is “wonderful that it has survived for almost 500 years, to this day.”
Borman also noted that the discovery is sure to excite Boleyn’s notable fan base.
“Of all Henry’s wives, Anne Boleyn has by far the most followers, so this finding is likely to attract a great deal of interest,” Borman said.
Borman’s next book, “Crown & Scepter”, will offer a complete history of the British monarchy. She said she is “delighted” to have discovered this surviving artifact from Boleyn’s life in time to include it in the book.