When it was auctioned for £75 in 2019, it was catalogued as an “antique carved wooden bird”, but it has now been identified as Anne Boleyn’s heraldic emblem.
The wooden royal falcon would have probably adorned Anne’s private apartments at Hampton Court Palace and was likely removed after King Henry VIII ordered her execution. It’s currently believed to be worth about £200,000. It is still in excellent condition with its original gilding and colour scheme.
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The falcon is going back home soon and has been placed on a long-term loan to Hampton Court.
Tracy Borman, joint chief curator for Historic Royal Palaces, told The Guardian, “The irony is that Anne Boleyn is the most popular of the six wives, and she’s probably the one with the least surviving evidence … because she was obliterated by Henry. So that makes this really quite special, and obviously, I’m very excited about it. When I realised how this absolutely would have fitted with the decorative scheme, I had a shivers-down-the-spine moment.” She added that she believes that it was taken down and kept by one of Anne’s supporters. “It is a remarkable survivor. The really interesting thing is that somebody obviously wanted to save it for posterity. So it’s likely to have been a supporter of Anne.”
Paul Fitzsimmons, who owns the piece, of Marhamchurch Antiques in Buckfastleigh, specialises in furniture and art from the 15th to 17th centuries. He said, “I didn’t know immediately that it was the badge of Anne Boleyn, but I knew that it had some sort of royal connection because it had the crown and sceptre, and it was a royal bird.” He added, “It needs to go back to the institution from where it came … It was the property of Henry VIII, [who] ordered them to be made for his new wife, but equally ordered them to be removed. This could have been removed literally as Anne Boleyn was about to have her head cut off.”