The name Anne Boleyn’s Seat was coined because paintings show that there was a decapitated statue on this spot before the acquisition of the Abbey by Aislabie in 1768.
It was during the late 18 century that the statue acquired the name Anne Boleyn when a link was seen between the decapitated state of the statue, Henry VIII's second queen and the dissolution of the monasteries, which affected Fountains Abbey. The statue was restored to its original position in 2001.
The name "Surprise View" is more apt. Georgian visitors would have been led to a wooden building and seated on a bench, sliding wooden doors were then opened to reveal an astonishing view of the abbey ruins in the distance. The sight was designed to cause a sharp intake of breath, hence‘Surprise View’.