Lewes home Henry VIII granted to Anne of Cleves in 1540 is for sale for £2.25million
By Harry Howard, History Correspondent
09:08 14 Jun 2023, updated 09:47 14 Jun 2023
- Grade-I listed Wings Place is in Ditchling, near Lewes in East Sussex
- It was among properties given to Anne of Cleves after her marriage ended
- Jamie Theakston owned it from 2007 until 2015, when he sold it for £1.85million
A five-bed Sussex home which was granted to King Henry VIII’s fourth wife Anne of Cleves after their marriage was annulled has gone on the market for more than £2million.
Grade-I listed Wings Place, which is better known as Anne of Cleves House, is open for public tours in Ditchling, near Lewes, East Sussex, but is privately owned.
It was among the properties given to Germany-born Anne after her six-month union with Henry came to an end in July 1540, on the grounds that the marriage had not been consummated.
But the home has a recent high-profile history too, having been owned by TV presenter Jamie Theakston from 2004 until 2015, when he had to knock £150,000 off the asking price before it sold for £1.85million.
It boasts original features from the Tudor period, including a timber frame, brick chimneys, leaded windows and even a priest hole.
Set over three floors, it has three bedrooms, two oak staircases and several 16th Century inglenook fireplaces.
One of the more recent additions is an updated kitchen with fitted painted cupboards, underfloor heating and a large food preparation island.
The western wing of the home features a spacious drawing room, which is next door to a panelled library with a door leading to a rear stone terrace.
Steps which begin in the kitchen lead down to a cellar comprised of two rooms housing a boiler, hot water tank and wine store.
The main bedroom features an oak mullioned bay window and fireplace, as well as ensuite bathroom.
Another bedroom has a fireplace concealing the original priest hole – a hiding place built for Catholic clergy during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
The garden has a gently sloping lawn which leads down to a stream and boasts a view of the South Downs across picturesque fields.
Theakston married his wife Sophie Siegle in the home’s sprawling grounds in 2007.
Wings Place is set in grounds formerly known as Ditchling Manor Garden, first mentioned in texts dating back to the 11th Century.
Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1541, it was gifted to Henry VIII, who later gave it to his lieutenant Thomas Cromwell.
And then it was granted to Anne, although she never visited the home herself.
After her death it was reverted to the Crown and later occupied by Lord Abergavenny who gave it Henry Poole as part of a dowry for the hand of his daughter in the 1570s.
Part of the house was converted into a public library in the 17th century, and the external staircase that was built for it still stands today.
The home is being sold via estate agent Jackson-Stops with a guide price of £2.25million.
Henry had initially agreed to marry Anne after commissioning a portrait of her, which was painted by Hans Holbein.
But he then argued he was so disgusted by Anne’s real physical appearance that he could not carry out his marital obligations by consummating the marriage.
She later became known as the ‘Flanders Mare’.
Anne had previously been set to marry the Duke of Lorraine’s son, but the union was cancelled in 1535 after being declared unofficial.
However, Henry got out of his own union by claiming Anne was still betrothed to the Duke’s son, because there was no document present which declared it dissolved.
Following their separation, Anne was referred to as ‘the King’s Beloved Sister’ and also received both Richmond Palace and Hever Castle as part of her settlement.
Henry and Anne became friends and she was invited to his court frequently by way of gratitude for not contesting the annulment.
The King went on to marry Catherine Howard just 19 days after his marriage to Anne was annulled.
However, Howard lasted for little more than a year before she was beheaded, the same fate met by Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.
The King’s final wife, Catherine Parr, whom he married in July 1543, outlived him by nearly two years.