The barges used for the escort were lavishly decorated, and it took roughly two hours for all fifty barges to be brought to Greenwich to pick Anne up. They were flanked by many smaller vessels - for protection, as well as storage - and they were all elegantly decorated, as Eric Ives describes in his book "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn" - "Flags and bunting overall, hung with gold foil that glistened in the sun and with little bells that tinkled; the vessels were packed with musicians of every kind, and more cannon than seems safe on such a crowded waterway. The fleet was led by a light wherry in which had been constructed a mechanical dragon that could be made to move and belch out flames, and with it were other models of monsters and huge wild men, who threw blazing fireworks and uttered hideous cries," (1). As everything at Henry VIII's court was, this river procession was a glimpse of true court magnificence, and it seems everything was made to show off his new bride and soon-to-be-Queen, who at this time was the absolute love of his life.
Anne boarded her own magnificent barge, along with some of her ladies, and the King followed behind in his own barge, allowing his "most entirely beloved wife" to bask in the spotlight. There were thousands of spectators crowding the banks of the river to catch a glimpse of the royal event.
Oh, the irony.
- "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn" by Eric Ives - (1) page 173.