The morning of Anne’s execution was emotional but proved that in moments of extreme cruelty, peace can be found.
I wasn’t supposed to be there. I couldn’t let her go through this alone, so I found myself in a servant’s uniform and the rest is history.
We were in the queen’s lodgings at The Tower of London. It was just barely half four in the morning and surrounded by her ladies. They were Elizabeth Boleyn; Queen Anne’s aunt, Anne Shelton; Mary Kingston, the wife of Sir William Kingston, the Lieutenant of the Tower; Margaret Coffin, the wife of Queen Anne’s Master of the Horse; and Elizabeth Stoner, wife of the King’s Sargeant of Arms. They were there, all of them to spy on Anne and none of them, save for Mrs. Kingston, gave her much sympathy. As Anne listened to the Mass, her face softened and for a brief second; it looked like she was beginning to glow. She was at peace. Whether it was because she truly believed that Henry, the king, would go through with it, or because she truly was innocent of wrongdoing. She was going to die, the death of the innocent.
It was just after that Anne was given her last sacrament by her almoner John Skip. The most gentlemanly of the gentlemen.
Anne looked up and noticed me. I gave her a look that told her that I was on her side. A softness came over her face. Someone who loved her was there and filled with peace. She was ready to die. I had heard her earlier tell one of her ladies that she hoped that there were no more delays unless, of course, the King came to stop the whole thing. We believed he would. Certainly, all the delays meant something.
It was around 7 in the morning and I brought in a platter with cheese, bread, and cold chicken. There was not a sign of the fruit and berries that Anne was fond of eating, as well as apples. We all knew that this was deliberate, even though the food supplied was of top quality. Anne and her ladies barely picked at the food.
The quiet calm was slowly turning to anxiety when the queen suddenly stood up and announced that it was time to be dressed in the outfit she chose the night before.
I was sent into her dressing chamber to tell her that Sir Kingston was heading towards them. Anne was dressed in a black damask night robe that was lined in fur, underneath she donned a brilliant red kirtle. I helped her pin her netted headpiece in place. It was believed that this would keep her hair from wrapping around thesword, preventing a clean death.
Anne walked towards the door to meet Sir Kingston, looking ethereal in her calmness. I couldn’t hear the whole conversation because I was staying out of my aunt in law’s notice.
“My lady, the hour approaches. I beseech you to make ready.” Kingston said.
“Acquit yourself of your charge,” she softly chides, “For I have been long prepared.”
Kingston gave Anne an apologetic look. “You have a little while before we must depart. Dodo with what you must with your ladies and your priest.”
Anne stepped forward and asked if Mister Skip will be allowed to accompany her.
“Indeed he will, Madam,” Kingston told her. “As I say, there is time, but I must remain with you until the hour.”
At this point, Anne thanked him profusely for the kindness and respect he had offered her since she was brought to the tower.
Clearly, Sir Kingston was uncomfortable with her compliments because he was aware of what was going on behind the scenes. This, however, we will leave for a different time.
He handed Anne a velvet purse that contained twenty pounds for alms for the poor. Anne passed the coins to Lady Bolyen, my executed husband’s aunt. Anne’s aunt.
Anne asked if there was a purse for the swordsman.
“That has already been taken care of.” Kingston assured her.
Without another word, Sir Kingston led her out of the luxurious apartments of a queen to the scaffold that would give her a traitor’s death. Her only solace was the ermine lined cloak that was put over her shoulders. Ermine was only worn by queens, and Anne knew that she was rightfully one.
There is so much more to this story, and at another time, I will give you more of the story. But right now, my tea has gone cold and I want to toss some crockery at a certain duke’s head. Being a ghost does have it’s perks.