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It is quite amazing how many parts of the body belonging to famous people in history, somehow become separated from the body itself and turn up again, many years or even centuries later.

Let me give you some examples...



Queen Anne Boleyn

After Anne Boleyn was beheaded in 1536 on the order of her husband, King Henry VIII, her heart was stolen and secretly hidden in a church near Thetford, Suffolk. Her heart was re-discovered in 1836 and re-buried under the church organ where it remains still.


Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas was beheaded in 1535. He had enraged Henry VIII by refusing to acknowledge that the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn was legal. More's head was taken from the scaffold and parboiled, stuck on a pole and exhibited on London Bridge. His devoted daughter, Margaret Roper, bribed the bridge-keeper to knock it down and she smuggled it home. She preserved the head in spices but was betrayed by spies and imprisoned, but was soon released. Margaret died in 1544 and Sir Thomas' head was buried with her. In 1824 her vault was opened and More's head was put on public view in St. Dunstan's Church in Canterbury for many years.


The Duke of Suffolk

Henry Grey, the Duke of Suffolk, was the father of Lady Jane Grey ( 1537 - 1554), who became known as the Nine Days Queen. He was beheaded in 1554 and his mummified head can still be seen in a glass-topped box in the vestry of St. Botolph Aldgate in London.


King Charles I

Charles I was beheaded in 1649 and buried at Windsor Castle in the same vault as Henry VIII. The coffin was opened in 1813 and Sir Henry Halford, the royal surgeon, performed an autopsy on the body. He secretly stole Charles' fourth cervical vertebra and for the next 30 years he loved to shock his friends at dinner parties by using the vertebra as a salt-holder.

Queen Victoria, hearing of this, demanded that the bone was returned to Charles' coffin immediately. It was!


Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter's body was buried after his execution but his embalmed head was kept by his wife Elizabeth Throckmorton. She kept it in a red leather bag, by her side, for the last 29 years of her life. Their son Carew took care of it until his death in 1666. Carew was buried in his father's grave with the head, but in 1680 Carew was exhumed and re-buried, with his father's head, in West Horsley, Surrey.


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