Anne Boleyn married Henry VIII in 1533, but her inability to produce a male heir and the king’s growing infatuation with Jane Seymour led to her downfall. Accused of adultery, incest, and treason, Anne was imprisoned within the Tower of London in May 1536. After a highly controversial trial, she was found guilty and sentenced to death. On May 19, 1536, Anne Boleyn was beheaded at the Tower’s execution site, known as the Tower Green.
Headless Apparition: The most prevalent and haunting image associated with Anne Boleyn’s ghost is that of a headless figure dressed in white or pale blue. Witnesses claim to have seen her wandering the Tower’s grounds, particularly near the Chapel Royal, holding her severed head in her hands. It is said that her ghostly presence exudes an air of sadness and despair.
Over the years, both visitors and Tower personnel have reported encounters with Anne Boleyn’s ghost. Some accounts describe seeing her apparition at the Tower’s windows or walking along corridors. Others have spoken of feeling a chilling presence or an unexplained sense of being watched while in Anne Boleyn’s former quarters or the Tower Green.
There have been reports from Yeoman Warders, also known as Beefeaters (Tower Guards), who claim to have encountered Anne Boleyn’s ghost during their duties. They describe seeing a figure resembling Anne Boleyn in a white or blue gown walking through the corridors or appearing at the windows of the Tower. Some have claimed to have had conversations with her or have heard her whispering.
The most frightening ghost story told about Anne Boleyn come from a Captain of the guard who, while on night duty, saw a flickering light in the locked Chapel Royal. While trying to uncover the source of the light he stumbled upon an unbelievable sight. A procession of knights and ladies dressed in ancient costumes were pacing the chapel. Their leader was an elegant, faceless female whose body figure resembled that of Anne Boleyn’s in portraits he had seen.
Also, in the Chapel Royal, visitors have reported seeing a figure matching Anne’s description near the chapel altar or praying piously. Some visitors have experienced sudden drops in temperature or a feeling of being watched while in the chapel.
In 1864, a soldier, on duty near the Lieutenant’s lodgings, made another sighting of Anne’s ghost. He claimed to have confronted and challenged a white figure and when his challenge met no response, he plunged his bayonet into the figure. To his complete shock, the weapon did not meet flesh instead went straight through the woman. According to the traditional story, an officer lodged in the Bloody Tower saw the whole event take place from his window.
In the 19th century, a sentry stationed at the Tower reported seeing a headless woman wearing a long, flowing dress resembling Anne Boleyn. He stated that she glided past him, carrying her head in her hands. The sentry was so terrified by the encounter that he fainted and had to be taken away for medical attention.
The Tower Green, where Anne Boleyn was executed, is another well-known sighting location. Witnesses claim to have seen a spectral figure resembling Anne Boleyn kneeling or walking on the Tower Green. Some have reported feeling intense sadness or a heavy atmosphere in the vicinity.
Protective Ghost: Despite the negative circumstances of her imprisonment and execution, some believe that Anne Boleyn’s ghost serves as a protective presence in the Tower. Numerous stories recount instances where her ghost intervened to prevent harm or accidents.
One story involves a pregnant woman who visited the Tower of London. As she stood near the spot where Anne Boleyn was executed, she suddenly felt faint and was about to fall. Just before she hit the ground, she claimed to have felt a pair of invisible hands catch and steady her. Some believe that these hands belonged to Anne Boleyn’s protective spirit, intervening to prevent harm to the woman and her unborn child.
Another story recounts an incident involving a child who was about to fall down a flight of stairs at the Tower. Just as the child reached the edge, witnesses claim that they saw a spectral figure, believed to be Anne Boleyn, suddenly appear and push the child back, preventing a potentially dangerous fall. Again, this is attributed to the protective nature of Anne Boleyn’s ghost.
Ghostly Interactions: There are tales of Anne Boleyn’s ghost interacting with individuals, including guards or Yeoman Warders, who have encountered her apparition. Some claim to have heard her whispering, laughter, or even witnessed her speaking to them directly.
Many have deemed these sightings as plausible based on the belief that walls, buildings and specific entities can leave imprints of people and events. These imprints emit either positive or negative energy that can lower temperatures in a room or present images of the souls lost in those rooms. This is a belief that is noted frequently in paranormal discussions and lent towards the visions of Anne Boleyn.
The Tower of London, with its rich history of political intrigue, imprisonment, and executions, serves as a potent backdrop for the lingering spirits associated with its past. Anne Boleyn’s ghost, embodying the tragedy and drama of her life, captures the imagination and fascination of those who visit the Tower. Whether one chooses to believe in her ghostly presence or not, the legend of Anne Boleyn continues to be an integral part of the Tower of London’s enduring legacy.