On this date (May 19th) in 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn was executed, having been falsely convicted of committing adultery and treason again her husband, King Henry VIII. As Anne is among the spirits I work with and one of my adopted ancestors, beginning last year I have been observing the day with meditation and by preparing a Tudor feast in her honor. (Although granted, for me at this point one or two dishes is all I can handle.)
This year I prepared Sergeant of the King’s Beef Stew from the book All the King’s Cooks: The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace. Since Henry acquired Hampton Court palace during his courtship of Anne and the Queen’s kitchen therein was constructed especially for her, the dishes in this book are not only historically accurate but are the exact meals she would have actually been served! I served the stew over slices of locally made artisan bread with spring greens garnished with edible flowers and glasses of sweet white wine. Desert was homemade syllabub, an English dessert originating in the Tudor era and consisting of whipped cream sweetened with sugar and lightly curdled with wine, which I served with fresh strawberries.
Anne endured a great deal during her life, and is even now still having to deal with the misconceptions spread by books such as The Other Boleyn Girl and Bring Up the Bodies. (And don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of both Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel, but their conclusions about Anne leave much to be desired.) Hopefully it is a comfort for her to know that there were so many people all across the world thinking about her today.