By Natalie Grueninger and Sarah Morris
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the dimension of time and have delighted in reading about the theories that try and make sense of it. There are, though, many more questions than answers: Does time even exist? Is time just an abstract concept? Is time linear? Can events occur outside of time? Is it possible to go back in time?
Alongside this fascination, grew a deep connection with the past; I hear its velvety whispers and feel it intently, each and every day. But never more so than when I’m standing in an ancient building, which has witnessed the ebb and flow of life for hundreds of years, where the walls echo with the footsteps of its former inhabitants and their stories are gently carried in the air.
I am intrigued and excited by the idea that when we stand on the very spot where a stranger from the past once stood, it’s only time—and not space— that stands between us: time, which we know so little about. It’s here, in these spaces where history speaks to me, where the past suddenly seems within reach, where it becomes something I can almost touch.
My love of history and of old buildings, coupled with my passion for Tudor history—in particular, Anne Boleyn’s story—led to the creation of my history website, On the Tudor Trail, in early 2009. At the time, I was also in the middle of planning a big ‘Tudor pilgrimage’ and was desperately searching for a list of surviving locations that Anne had visited; I wanted to walk in the footsteps of this remarkable woman and see things that she’d once owned or touched.
But apart from finding mention of the well-known places like Hever Castle, the Tower of London and Hampton Court, I found very little. So I pledged that I would start my own list and make the information available to other Anne Boleyn enthusiasts, who wanted to follow Anne’s trail into the past. And so the journey began, almost five years ago.
For me, the transition from website to book was a natural one. Over the years I’d acquired a great deal of knowledge about the many houses, castles and palaces that formed a backdrop to Anne Boleyn’s life and researched what artefacts survive connected to her. Then, in 2010, our love of all things Anne and Tudor brought Sarah Morris and I together. We began corresponding regularly and soon realised that by sharing what we’d each learnt on our separate historical journeys, we could produce something fresh and unique. I hope you’ll agree that we’ve succeeded in our mission.
My hope is that by the end of our book, you’ll feel closer to Anne—the woman, the mother, the wife and the queen. I hope she will cease simply being a character on a page and emerge instead as the fiercely intelligent, complex and unforgettable woman that she was.
In August 2010, my life changed forever. I was swept up in my own adventure of a lifetime, compelled to pen a novel which, at its heart, tells the intimate story of Anne Boleyn’s innocence. Le Temps Viendra was to be an up close and personal account one of the most dramatic love affairs in English history. As a new author, I knew my mantra was to MAKE.HISTORY.REAL and I was determined that historical accuracy would be the bedrock of this fictional biography, telling the untold story of how Anne was betrayed and abandoned by the man who spent years pursuing her relentlessly.
I’m not a professional historian. This meant that to achieve my goal, I had to research many hitherto unfamiliar aspects of Tudor society and the Henrician court; from how courtiers danced and dined, how they hunted and reverenced each other, and of course, I needed to become intimately acquainted with the palaces and houses that formed the backdrop against which Anne’s story unfolded. I not only wanted to understand how such buildings were laid out, how the rooms were used and flowed from one into the other, but also every detail of how they were decorated. Such detail was essential, for I wanted anyone who was reading the novel to be able to close their eyes and recreate each chamber in their minds eye, to smell the scents that would fill the nostrils, the textures that one might reach out and touch. In the process of attempting to create a vivid sensory picture for the reader, I became intimately familiar with several of Henry’s great houses. So familiar in fact that I reached the point where I could walk through them in my imagination, progressing from chamber to chamber with the same familiarity as if I was greeting an old friend. Eltham Palace, Greenwich, Hampton Court, the royal apartments at the Tower of London, all became like my second home, and whilst modern day Calais melted away, in its place the long lost Tudor town rose up from France’s most northerly shore. It was if I were rediscovering a whole new facet of Anne’s life. As I filled the canvas with colour and texture, it felt as if I were rediscovering a secret which breathed an extraordinary new life into my understanding of Anne’s story. I was enraptured, and found myself approaching each new location with great anticipation and excitement.
Although much of the material uncovered was woven into the story of Le Temps Viendra – indeed all of the location-based, architectural details you read about in the novel are rooted in fact – a good deal more remained unused. It was an easy decision to team up with Natalie, who I knew was equally fascinated by such locations. Together, we decided to extend our previous research and comprehensively chart Anne’s life through places and artefacts associated with her. And so In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn was born. It has been a huge privilege to follow in those footsteps, resulting in a book that we believe provides a unique insight into the life of one of England’s most iconic and compelling queen consorts.
Dr Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger co-authors of In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn, published in September 2013. In the Footsteps is a guide book to all the places and artefacts associated with one of England’s most compelling and controversial queens.
Natalie Grueninger is a researcher, writer and educator, living in Australia with her husband and two children. She graduated from The University of NSW in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts, with majors in English and Spanish and Latin American Studies and received her Bachelor of Teaching from The University of Sydney in 2006. Natalie has been working in public education for the last seven years and is passionate about making learning engaging and accessible for all children. In 2009 she created , a website dedicated to documenting historic sites and buildings associated with Anne Boleyn and sharing information about the life and times of Henry VIII’s second wife. To find out more about Natalie’s research and writing visit:
Sarah is also the author of Le Temps Viendra: a novel of Anne Boleyn, Volumes I and II. Le Temps Viendra is a fictional biography telling the story of Anne’s innocence through the eyes of a modern day woman, drawn back in time, to find herself in the body of her historical heroine as Anne Boleyn’s dramatic story unfolds from triumph to disaster and its final, heart-wrenching conclusion on the scaffold. Volume I was published in 2012, with Volume II due out before the end of 2013. To find out more about Sarah’s research and writing visit:
You can follow the next post tomorrow at http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com