ANNE Boleyn’s tragic fate was swift – her arrest, trial and execution all took place within less than three weeks in May, 1536.

King Henry VIII was quick off the mark replacing her too – he married Jane Seymour just 11 days later.

As a result, very few of Anne’s personal possessions remain – but one of them may well reside here in Glasgow.

To kick off a new Times Past series called The Secret Life Of…. which delves into the stories behind particular objects at the city’s world-famous Burrell Collection, we reveal an intriguing tale of two valances with the help of Rebecca Quinton, Curator, European Dress and Textiles at Glasgow Museums.

“This pair of valances is one of my favourite objects in the Glasgow Museums collection,” says Rebecca.

“They are very striking, and the fact that they belonged to Anne Boleyn, that she would have held them in her hand – it is unlikely she made them herself, although she did embroider – is both fascinating and quite sad.

“So few of her personal items survived, to think we have one in Glasgow is amazing.”

Glasgow Times: The valances. Pic: Glasgow Museums

Sir William Burrell devoted more than 75 years of his life to amassing one of the world’s greatest personal collections of art, which he donated to Glasgow in 1944.

The Burrell Collection in Pollok Park will re-open in March 2022, following a five-year, £68m refurbishment.

For our occasional series ahead of its re-opening, Times Past has asked Glasgow Museums curators to reveal the stories behind a selection of objects in the vast collection.

READ MORE: 'Greatest gift to Glasgow' - Burrell Collection celebrates 75th anniversary

The Secret Life of Anne Boleyn’s valances – decorative panels attached to the frame or canopy of a bed – has been uncovered by Rebecca, who explains: “The story behind them, and the connection to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, is a complicated one.

Glasgow Times: The pair of valances decorating a four-poster bed at Hutton Castle, the home of Sir William Burrell and his wife Lady Constance. Pic: Glasgow Museums

"They haven’t been seen on display in Glasgow for more than 20 years – one of the joys of the new Burrell is that it will allow many more previously unseen objects, or objects not displayed for years, to be put on show.

“Burrell bought them from a London dealer in June 1933 for £300, as part of a collection of Tudor textiles from Kimberley Hall, owned by the Wodehouse family, in Norfolk.

“Because he wanted to display them on a bed at his home, Hutton Hall, he actually had them sewn together and they remained that way until a few years ago.

“They are made of light cream silk satin with a beautiful arabesque design in black silk velvet appliqué that incorporates the cypher ‘HA’ for Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, with their personal motifs of acorns and honeysuckles."

As the valances are not listed in the Inventory of Henry VIII of England which was compiled after the king’s death in 1547, it is likely they were disposed of before then, adds Rebecca, who did some detective work of her own to find out how the valances ended up in Kimberley Hall.

“It had been suggested they were brought there during a visit by the royal couple but they never actually visited Norfolk - their only royal progress together was to the West Country, including Wolf Hall,” she explains.

“I found a couple of links between the Wodehouse family and Anne Boleyn, including the marriage of her sister Mary Boleyn’s great-granddaughter Blanche and Sir Thomas Wodehouse – maybe Blanche brought them with her as an heirloom?

“More likely, though, they were a gift from Anne to her cousin Margaret Shelton (who married Thomas Wodehouse of Kimberley around 1541), or were saved by Margaret after Anne’s downfall, as a memorial to her.

"Margaret and her sister Mary were court beauties, with Margaret getting into trouble for catching the eye of Sir Francis Weston and Sir Henry Norris.

READ MORE: Glasgow's world-famous Burrell Collection gets ready to re-open

"One sister even became the mistress of Henry VIII briefly in 1535, but historians differ as to whether ‘Mistress’ or ‘Marg’ Shelton was Margaret or Mary...."

How Anne Boleyn's valances ended up in the collection which eventually made its way to Burrell and Glasgow, we may never really know.

“They are very fragile now, the pile on the velvet has worn a little and the cream silk is yellowing, but for 500-year-old textiles, they’re doing not too badly,” smiles Rebecca.

There will be more mysteries of the Burrell uncovered in The Secret Life Of… in Times Past soon.