This afternoon was spent having tea at Anne of Cleves House in Lewes. Here we met Joanna, the education officer who gave us information on the history of the house and its architecture. The house is owned by the Sussex Archaeological Society which was one of the first archaeological societies, founded around 1896. It is now a registered charity which also manages several historic properties (many of which have been donated to the society).
Originally this house belonged to the local priory and it then passed to Thomas Cromwell. When King Henry VIII was going through his phase of creating his own religion and shutting down all the monasteries, Cromwell was acting as his own personal cheer squad and bully-for -hire. Cromwell was the one going around auditing the monks and if they didn’t stack up then he’d shut them down. One of the perks of this job was that Henry sometimes allowed him to take some of the seized property for himself, and this house was one which Cromwell grabbed.
The reason that it is called Anne of Cleves house is because it was part of Anne’s annulment settlement from King Henry VIII in 1540, along with several other properties. Anne was probably one of the luckiest of King Henry’s six wives because she managed to avoid being married to him for too long, she didn’t get beheaded, and she was gifted a significant amount of land and money which allowed her to live in comfort and be referred to as the King’s Beloved Sister. Anne was kind of the original tinder bride. She and Henry had never met, Henry had only ever seen a painting of her, which he thought looked reasonable. When she turned up from Germany to get married Henry wasn’t that impressed, but Thomas Cromwell convinced him it was still a good idea. So in January 1540 they got married, by July Henry had reconsidered and decided she didn’t live up to her profile picture. He blamed Cromwell for making him go through with it, so had the marriage annulled. Henry also beheaded Cromwell and gave most of what Cromwell owned (which was a lot) to Anne, because it’s not her fault she’s not pretty.
We didn’t have an activity to do here, just had a tour and a nice tea and scones in the garden before heading on to Windsor for tomorrow’s visit with the Queen.