‘Boleyn’ -a myth charged with Irons emotion


By Sean Whetstone

The word Boleyn is charged with incredible emotion for us Irons …it represents what we are and what we believe in!

The problem is it is based on nothing more than an urban myth and it’s time to put some facts out there and put the record straight.

This is required as the consultation of a possible West Ham crest re-design and retirement of the castle gets underway.

I am offering a short history lesson in which it really is important that we grasp the realities rather than the myths.

Let’s get it clear: the unfortunate Ann Boleyn – whose lost her head at the Tower, and not over Mark Noble or anything West Ham (joke), – never ever visited the castle.

The land on which the Boleyn Ground Stadium is built belonged to the Stratford Longthorne Abbey from 1135, the Abbey existed until the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII in 1538.

It was  land was then given to the King’s Richard Breame who built Green Street House on the estate sometime between 1538 and his death in 1546, 

Anne Boleyn was executed in the Tower of London in 1536 so could never of visited the house during her lifetime.

The confusion is thought to come from another Richard Breame house in Greenwich which it rented to Anne Boleyn’s brother Lord Rochford during the time te King was secretly courting Anne.

The famous castle turrets in the grounds of Green Street House were no more than elaborate garden outbuildings added later to the estate to show statue and power. No-one lived in them and were mainly ornamental. The remaining turret was demolished in 1955.

So it appears the house was neither a castle or connected to Anne Boleyn.

West Ham Supporters don’t cry come on you Castlers or Boleyners they sing of Hammers and Irons.

Of course we hold the name of the stadium in great esteem but truth is there’s no real reason for it!



About Sean Whetstone

I am Season Ticket Holder in West stand lower at the London Stadium and before that, I used to stand in the Sir Trevor Brooking Lower Row R seat 159 in the Boleyn Ground and in the Eighties I stood on the terraces of the old South Bank. I am a presenter on the West Ham Podcast called MooreThanJustaPodcast.co.uk. A Blogger on WestHamTillIdie.com a member of the West Ham Supporters Advisory Board (SAB), Founder of a Youtube channel called Mr West Ham Football at http://www.youtube.com/MrWestHamFootball, I am also the associate editor here at Claret and Hugh. Life Long singer of bubbles! Come on you Irons! Follow me at @Westhamfootball on twitter

8 comments on “‘Boleyn’ -a myth charged with Irons emotion

  1. Come on, The BOLEYN CASTLE has always been associated with OUR CLUB, as the name of our ground beinf THE BOLEYN, lots more than Upton Park, We are an EAST END CLUB and I am Proud of it. The examples drawn up so far with just the Two Crossed Hammers look far too simple, and in fact more like an amateur club? Why feel the need now ro add London

    Lets wait two years until we are in the new stadium, and then look at it again, perhaps we may want a WHITE ELEPHANT under the Hammers then?

  2. Sorry, but to me this is irrelevant and as I’ve said elsewhere, I believe it’s largely irrelevant to most who want to keep the castle. How many WH fans, do you imagine, go ‘Ahh yes, the great Boleyn castle’ when they look at our crest? I’m betting precisely none. The castle and crossed hammers has now represented West Ham Utd for 50 years. That’s a long old time. You’d have to be 60 years old or more to even remember a time when the castle wasn’t an intrinsic part of the crest of your club. It’s really quite simple; The castle and crossed hammers IS the emblem of our club. It has been since the majority of us can remember and I’m certain you’ll find that most don’t want to lose it.

  3. Your history lesson is clear but in the battle between fact and emotion, the truth is so often a loser. I’ve long known the ‘history’ as bogus and thought the castle thing an irrelevance so I have no problem with losing it from the crest. I think the club are right to ‘retire it’.
    I’m hoping that’s the compromise we end up with – no castle but also no ‘London’ either.

  4. yes I agree its urban legend but to me its been there as long as I can remember apart for a 3 year patch, my point is this. it looks great, people have also spent thousands on merchandise art tattoo’s jewellery how is it fair that now we have to pay out more on another updated franchise bad enough having to by a new shirt every other year and finally we are world famous for the castle and irons I think its poor removing the castle if it happens hopefully enough people vote no

  5. Yes, this is a myth, but it is OUR myth – just like the myth that WE won the World Cup. My Grandma told me this story when I was a little boy, and although I have known that it is not true for most of my life, I still like to believe in it.
    I have never thought that the castle in our badge was supposed to represent Green Street House. From my memories from when I was a boy, Green Street used to have an ugly brick wall, with one turret that looked something like a castle. It looked nothing like the castle on our badge. The original castle on our badge, with its domed turrets, looked more like something from Disney World than the Green Street House. I always liked to think that the castle represented a fortress, and represented “Fortress Upton Park”. Back in the days of the original Chicken Run, when the players were so close to the fans, the stadium was very intimidating. But not only for the players, the officials running the lines must have been scared out of their lives. I saw many questionable decisions go West Ham’s way back then, with the linesman being told to keep his flag down in no uncertain terms.
    As far as keeping the castle in the badge, I have no strong feelings either way. My question is, will leaving the castle out make the club stronger? Do the owners believe that with a more modern badge we will be able to market our products better overseas? Will the addition of “London” make us more marketable, with a resulting improved revenue stream? If yes, then these are strong arguments to make a change. So far I have not seen anything that supports or negates these arguments. I expect that the Board will do what they think is in the best interest for the club. We need to trust them a little on this matter.

  6. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    Sean W
    Wikipedia historian.
    Minions been busy recently, it shows in your putting the story straight .
    Who cares hs it was called the Boleyn, the fact is that corner around the Barking Rd and green st has been known as the Boleyn years before west Ham turned up there.
    Then again as an outsider don’t expect you to know that.

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