Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

East Molesey, England

Anne Boleyn's Gateway

Carved initials which are nearly 500 years old preserve the deposed Queen's presence at Hampton Court Palace. 

A stroll through the 16th-century section of Hampton Court Palace offers an interesting “overlook” at Henry VIII’s famous residence, which has become known as Anne Boleyn’s Gateway.

Anne Boleyn was married to King Henry VIII from 1533 to 1536 in a union that helped spark the English Reformation. Though the King had initially been eager in his pursuit of her, he grew tired of the marriage when she failed to produce a male heir. Queen Anne was charged with treason and executed at the Tower of London on May 19, 1536.

After her beheading, construction workers were ordered to remove all images, initials, and traces of her from Hampton Court and replace them with the initials of King Henry’s new wife, Jane Seymour.

There were, however, some spots overlooked. Inside an archway beneath the clock tower, the initials H A (Henry and Anne) and A H (Anne and Henry) are still there, linked by a “lover’s knot.” All one has to do is simply look up to the ceiling to find these nearly 500-year-old initials that are practically hidden in plain sight. There are also stone carvings that feature her signature falcon badge, and the paneling in the Great Hall also has contains her initials and falcon.

Was this an innocent mistake or a purposeful reminder of the deposed Queen for generations to come? We will never know.

Know Before You Go

Look up while passing through the archway.