Book Review: “The Boleyns Of Hever Castle” by Owen Emmerson & Claire Ridgway

Hello!

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve done anything for my blog.

Honestly, I see this as a good sign because it means that I am starting to enjoy these mini vacations! I have to say though, I did not do a whole lot of reading, ever since I finished the Celtic Blood series at the beginning of the summer, I have had a rough time figuring out what I want to get into next, as you might know I have really allowed myself to enjoy romance again, but they’re not as fun as they were around May, so I decided to dive deep into my historical fiction and even some nonfiction in there too, which is how I found this book on Kindle Unlimited in the middle of August.

I remember seeing this cover on the History of Royal Women’s instagram stories a few months before it actually came out. Moniek tries to give everyone an overview of all of the books coming out in both the US and UK and since it isn’t uncommon for the dates to be different, you may see it more than once. If you do not have instagram, she also does a blog post usually at the start of the month with more information about the books and when they officially come out too! If you’re curious about the books coming out in September, click here.


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Hever Castle is a picture-postcard fortified manor house nestled in the Kent countryside. It is famous for its links with the Boleyns, an East Anglian gentry family who rose and fell dramatically at the court of King Henry VIII.

In The Boleyns of Hever Castle, historians Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway invite you into the home of this notorious family.

Travel back in time to those 77 years of Boleyn ownership. Tour each room just as it was when Anne Boleyn retreated from court to escape the advances of Henry VIII or when she fought off the dreaded ‘sweat’. See the 16th century Hever Castle come to life with room reconstructions and read the story of the Boleyns, who, in just five generations, rose from petty crime to a castle, from Hever to the throne of England.

Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway have combined their considerable knowledge of the Boleyn family and Hever Castle to create this luxurious book. Packed with history and full-colour images, The Boleyns of Hever Castle will educate and enlighten you

taken from Amazon.

So, the book itself is divided up in three sections. The beginning is how the entire castle looked like when it was first built before the Boleyn family came along. The authors give you a lot of blueprints and reconstructed photos to give you a better idea, and this was something I could follow easily with but reading along through what was important about all of the balconies, rooms, and stairs. At some point of this, I became very confused and was tempted to skip that whole section–I complained so much that even my mom was telling me to do it! Once you finally complete this part, you move on to the origin story of the Boleyns.

This was definitely my favorite part of the book. I like to look up family trees to see where they came from and how various names play a part in the line of decedents. The first person you are introduced to is Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, who begins his quest to learn and work his way up the amount of positions like a mercer to sheriff of London. The men of the Boleyn were very good at their jobs, and this is something that continues through the generations to the point where you have Geoffrey’s great-great-grandson Thomas Boleyn becoming a diplomat for England, France, and Austria and then finally becoming the first Earl of Wiltshire in 1529.

Thomas would inherit a large amount of properties and after he married the Lady Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, they would make Hever Castle their official residence. One of my favorite lines in the book was, they family could lived anywhere they wanted to, but they felt safe at Hever. The Countess would give birth to five children, but only Mary, Anne, and George would survive to adulthood. All of them were educated at Hever with their governesses and tutors, but most importantly Mary and Anne were allowed to take other courses that were mainly taught to the men of the household like falconry. Another part of their schooling, especially if they had family that worked within royal houses, they could live as apprentices or in Mary and Anne’s case, become ladies in waiting. They stayed with the Queen Margaret of Austria and Queen Claude of France before coming back to England and being part of Catherine of Aragon’s household.

This is the story of the rise of a remarkable family who, over five generations, rose from petty crime to a castle, from Hever to the throne of England.

My views on whether Anne was a schemer or a pawn has definitely changed over the years. I think the thing we all need to remember is, you never said no Henry. I am sure there was fear among the many families that served under the king, especially if you could not get something done right away, which is why my views on Cardinal Worsley’s responsibility has flipped as well. I do not believe Anne could get out of the king’s clutches or her family’s ambitions to gain even more control of the king. Unfortunately, the Queen could not give Henry a son, and Anne was at the right place at the wrong time and her fate was sealed.

The final section of the book is what happened after Hever was left to the Crown and the rest of the Boleyn family died out in 1634 with the death of Lettice Knollys, who was the daughter of Catherine Carey, who then was the daughter of Lady Mary Boleyn, the only child of Thomas and Elizabeth to not lose her head after the events in 1539. It wasn’t until William Waldorf Astor took control of the property and brought it back to how it could have looked like when the Boleyn family lived there, but with some added royal aesthetic. I thought this part was fairly interesting because it speaks to anyone who is obsessed with royal history, especially the Tudor dynasty! It doesn’t matter what century or year it is, everyone can fall in love with the stories this castle’s walls know by heart. It may be the only living thing to know the truth about Anne Boleyn’s thoughts about everything!

I really enjoyed this book, and think if you or someone you know loves learning about royal history, you should direct them to this lovely book. It is fairly short but it is full of information!

Have you read “The Boleyns at Hever Castle” by Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about it? Let me know below!

For The Love Of Documentaries!

It seems I’ve started a trend this year. .

Last year I was obsessed with trying to put a dent into my movie list. I was fairly proud of myself for doing that because I managed to cross off quite a bit. This year it’s a different story, the only films I’ve watched that I’ve added onto my 2016 and the first half of 2017 movie post. I’ve seen Morgan, Finding Dory, Beauty and The Beast, and Split. I know, the fact that even wanted to watch shocked a lot of my family!

Since February of this year, I’ve been more into little specials on PBS. If I want something to watch about history, this has been my #1 source until I fell back in love with using YouTube to chase that need for documentaries. I don’t have Netflix so I don’t have a great array of specials like I want like most of the general population, but I think this works just as good though! I wanted to do this post to share what all I’ve seen since the beginning of the year, in case anybody wanted to change their chances and watch them as well!

In January, PBS started on The Six Wives Of Henry VIII which was a three part series, they also premiered the first season of Victoria on the same weekend, I pretty much looked forward to Sundays for a good three weeks. I think Victoria ended in early March, but don’t count me on that!

Around February, I found Secrets Of The Dead but I only found like four episodes that I was able to watch off and on for about five months. The first episode was about the origins of both Frankenstein and Vampyre which you can learn more about in my Tune Tuesday post I did about Switzerland. The others were about Vincent Van Gogh’s missing ear, Nero’s Sunken City and Leonardo de Vinci (which I didn’t necessarily enjoy!). I found The Wonder Of Britain hosted by Julia Bradbury which was on at like four in the morning so I had to record it, however there were a few times that I could have watched it live since I was usually awake around that time! The third one was the Tales From The Bedchamber who was hosted by Lucy Worsley.

By the time April came around, I was using YouTube to watch my documentaries more frequently and as I started looking back at the ones I watched, I quickly realized I probably should have written down the ones I watched because trying to figure out each one made my brain hurt!

When my nana was going through her bad health spells, I used a series to keep me occupied throughout the rough times and I started watching The House Of Windsor which tells you of the origins of the current British monarch, like why King George V decided to change their family name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha which was started at the time of Queen Victoria when she married Prince Albert. It also takes you behind the secrets stored in the archives of Windsor Castle. For explain, the real reason behind why the Russian Imperial family wasn’t allowed to take refuge at Buckingham Palace. I thought it was pretty neat!

I do remember starting the series King and Queens of England I only got to Normans, I watched the Decadence and Elegance: The Age Of Regency  which was about when the Prince Regent George IV – he’s regarded one of the most lavishes royals! It was also hosted by Lucy Worsley. I saw an hour long special called Inside The Court of King Henry VIII and I still feel like that should have been longer than an hour! The last one I vaguely remember watching before the start of June was Prince John: The Windsor Tragic Story. Prince John was the youngest of King George V and Queen Mary, he was different from the rest of his siblings, or in general a royal prince. He was diagnosed with epilepsy and was put away from the public and the rest of his family.

I started with Elizabeth I which talks about the life of Queen Elizabeth I, including the feud between her and her half sister Queen Mary I. How she was accused for helping the Protestant uprising against the Catholics, but she and the leader both denied her involvement. It also talked about she might’ve been sexually assaulted by her half brother’s adviser Thomas Seymour when she was living with her father’s sixth wife Catherine Parr after she married Thomas and became pregnant with his child. I had never heard of these accusations before so that was a new one for me! I have yet to finish the series!

There was a special on PBS about Mary Ann Cotton called Dark Angel, who was England’s first serial killer. It was said that she killed different members of her family, including her children with arsenic to collect their life insurances. It starred Joanne Fogett as Mary Ann Cotton, and I was in shocked but in awe of this woman. It was also said in total she killed over 20 people!

Recently there have been three separate specials I’ve seen on both TV and YouTube. The first was My Mother And Other Strangers on PBS, it has had a slow beginning but it has been very interesting too! It was set in Ireland around the time of World War II. You have these American soldiers living on base in this small town called Moybeg and the narrator is the older Francis, whereas he talks about the life of his family. He is like around seven years old in the actual series. It’s a nice story and kind of hoping for a second season but I don’t think I should hold my breath as like both Victoria and Dark Angel they premiered on BBC or ITV first before making its way to the US.

I watched a special about nuns, and that is what happens when you watch both Sister Act films in one week alone. It was called Young Nuns and it gave you a sense of these modern women becoming nuns for different reasons. I still haven’t finished it, but so far so good! I found one about Princess Alice of Bradenburg, called The Queen’s Mother In Law as she is the mother of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. This was another sad one to watch, but it was nevertheless good though. The third was Richard III: The King Laid To Rest I have been very interested in King Richard III mostly of his disability and living with scoliosis around the the 15th Century. I had watched section of Mysteries At The Museum that talked about finding him in a parking lot in 2012. This was about finally putting his remains in the ground in a well-established church. I still think he should have been buried in a Catholic church since that was what he was at the time, but they didn’t. I thought it was a beautiful service and we may never see that ever again unless they finally find the Princes In The Tower or Henry I.

I’m not just into specials about Ireland and England, I also enjoy other parts of the world as well! PBS recently had a series called The Story Of China that I thoroughly enjoyed! It was hosted by Michael Wood and as I watched it while these people were talking to him in their native languages (and there are a lot!) but he never seemed to have a translator for himself, so in ways you kind of got the feeling he knew what they were saying but I can’t say for certain. They had like seven episodes in all, even through two were combined so there were two hours long. It was glorious! I’ve always been interested in China and it’s traditions so I figured I would really like it and I was right!

I’ve watched a few more in the last four weeks, but I’ve decided to not include them on this post.

Are you interested in documentaries or little specials or series of specific places around the world? What have you watched recently?

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