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Allington, near Maidstone, Kent
About the location:
The original manor house on the site was fortified by the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Stephen de Penchester in 1281 after a licence to crenellate was issued by Edward I. It was converted to a mansion in 1492, when Sir Henry Wyatt acquired the property and made it the family’s principal residence.
Sir Henry Wyatt, father of Sir Thomas Wyatt.
Margaret Wyatt, (Lady Lee)
Thomas Wyatt. (Later Sir Thomas Wyatt)
Both of the Wyatt siblings, who feature heavily in the novel, were born and raised at Allington Castle; Margery Wyatt in about 1490 and her younger brother, Sir Thomas following in 1503. Their father, Sir Henry was on good terms with Sir Thomas Boleyn, who resided at nearby Hever Castle. The proximity of the two families (about 20 miles) made them neighbours and undoubtedly Anne knew both Thomas and Margery Wyatt from an early age.
Towards the end of the 16th century, whilst under the ownership of the Wyatt family, the castle was badly damaged by fire, remaining largely derelict until 1905 when it was restored by Sir Martin Conway.
In 1951 the castle became home to a convent of the Order of Carmelites. It is currently the private residence of the Sir Robert Worcester and Lady Worcester. It is sadly not open to the public.
Which key events feature Allington Castle in the book?
Anne visits Allington during the summer of 1527, along with her mother and her sister, Mary. It is here that the she encounters Thomas for the second time. This time the young poet is sitting in the orchard, penning one of his most famous poems: ‘Whoso list to Hunt?’ There is a poignant exchange between the two of youthful innocence lost and Thomas admits his long standing love for Mistress Anne.
It is also during a game of ‘Blind Man’s Bluff’ in the gardens at Allington Castle that Thomas steels a token from Anne; later in the story we hear how this fuels a famous altercation between the King and Thomas at bowls, over who has Mistress Anne’s heart.
The real events in history:
Whilst it is almost certain that Anne and Thomas knew each other through childhood, the events which take place at Allington are purely fictional.
Of course, Thomas did write ‘Whoso list to Hunt?’ and many suppose it is about his pursuit of Anne as described in the novel.
We also know that Thomas did steal a token from Anne’s pocket; the contemporary source suggests, however, that this was whilst Anne was doing embroidery. Apart from the stealing of the locket, this actual scene in which this takes place therefore, is entirely fictional.
Where to go / what to see / where to stand:
Thanks to the restoration efforts in the 1950’s, you can just see Allington Castle from the roadside. However, it is privately owned and sadly not opened to the public.
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