Books 2020 – A book featuring Lady Jane is on sale now – A Hidden History of the Tower of London: England’s Most Notorious Prisoners by John Paul Davis

(c) Pen & Sword History

‘Famed as the ultimate penalty for traitors, heretics and royalty alike, being sent to the Tower is known to have been experienced by no less than 8,000 unfortunate souls. Many of those who were imprisoned in the Tower never returned to civilisation and those who did, often did so without their head! It is hardly surprising that the Tower has earned itself a reputation among the most infamous buildings on the planet. There have, of course, been other towers. Practically every castle ever built has consisted of at least one; indeed, even by the late 14th century, the Tower proudly boasted no less than 21. Yet even as early as the 1100s, the effect that the first Tower had on the psyche of the local population was considerable. The sight of the dark four-pointed citadel – at the time the largest building in London – as it appeared against the backdrop of the expanding city gave rise to many legends, ranging from the exact circumstances of its creation to what went on within its strong walls. In ten centuries what once consisted of a solitary keep has developed into a complex castle around which the history of England has continuously evolved. So revered has it become that legend has it that should the Tower fall, so would the kingdom. Beginning with the early tales surrounding its creation, this book investigates the private life of an English icon. Concentrating on the Tower’s developing role throughout the centuries, not in terms of its physical expansion into a site of unique architectural majesty or many purposes but through the eyes of those who experienced its darker side, it pieces together the, often seldom-told, human story and how the fates of many of those who stayed within its walls contributed to its lasting effect on England’s – and later the UK’s – destiny. From ruthless traitors to unjustly killed Jesuits, vanished treasures to disappeared princes and jaded wives to star-crossed lovers, this book provides a raw and at times unsettling insight into its unsolved mysteries and the lot of its unfortunate victims, thus explaining how this once typical castle came to be the place we will always remember as THE TOWER.’


Further details – Pen and Sword History

Further details –

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Lady Jane is going to Greenwich…

The ‘Lady Jayne’ Streatham portrait will be going on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, as part of the ‘Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits’ exhibition.

Lady Jane Dudley (née Grey)
(c) National Portrait Gallery

The exhibition runs from 3rd April until 31st August 2020.

(c) National Maritime Museum

‘Come face-to-face with the kings and queens who have shaped British history for over 500 years.

Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, at the National Maritime Museum, includes over 150 of the finest portraits from across five royal dynasties.

Discover how royal portraiture has developed over the last five centuries, from Henry VII to Elizabeth II.’

From National Maritime Museum website

For more information about the exhibition and to be notified when tickets go on sale : Tudors to Windsors: National Maritime Museum

The portrait was previously on display as part of the ‘Tudors to Windsors’ exhibition from October 2018 to January 2019 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and from 16th March until 14th July 2019, at the Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia.

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‘The House of Grey: Friends & Foes of Kings’ by Melita Thomas added to the website…

(c) Amberley Publishing

‘The House of Grey: Friends & Foes of Kings’ by Melita Thomas’ added to the Other Biographies section of the bibliography.

Entries added to the following:

Primary Accounts – Birth, Chapel, and Captivity.

Writings of Lady Jane Grey – Signatures, Letters – Letter to Sir Thomas Seymour, Letter to a Friend, and Farewell Letters – Letter to Katherine Grey, Letters to Father and Message to Sir John Brydges.

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Another book with a Jane link to look forward to…

30th April – Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen by Laura Brennan

(c) Pen and Sword History

‘Elizabeth I is arguably one of the greatest monarchs and women of English history. Against an uncertain political and religious backdrop of post-reformation Europe she ruled at the conception of social modernisation, living in the shadow of the infamy of her parents reputations and striving to prove herself an equal to the monarchs who had gone before her. This book seeks to explore some of the key events of her life both before and after she ascended to the English throne in late 1558. By looking at the history of these selected events, as well as investigating the influence of various people in her life, this book sets out to explain Elizabeth’s decisions, both as a queen and as a woman. Amongst the events examined are the death of her mother, the role and fates of her subsequent step-mothers, the fate of Lady Jane Grey and the subsequent behaviour and reign of her half sister Mary Tudor, along with the death of Amy Dudley, the return of Mary Queen of Scots to Scotland, the Papal Bull and the Spanish Amanda.’


Further details – Pen and Sword History

Further details –

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Execution in fiction

On 12th February 1554, Lady Jane was executed at the Tower of London.

The story of her execution has featured in several historical novels.

In Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, Jane waits for her execution.

‘It is now that I force myself to look across to the scaffold on Tower Green. It has been draped with black material and strewn with straw, but there is no sign of the block. As yet, the green is deserted. Sir John has told me that, as my execution is to be held in private, attendance is by invitation only, and that the numbers have been strictly limited. They are probably all at Tower Hill just now, watching Guildford being beheaded, I expect. And when that is over – which cannot be long now, I pray – it will be my turn. It is the waiting that is so hard…A crowd of people is advancing on Tower Green. There is little time left. I pick up my prayer book and try to concentrate on the passages I have marked for my final devotions. But as the words dance before my eyes, I hear footsteps on the stairs, and the door swings open.’

(c) Arrow, p.399-400

In Sisters of Treason by E.C Fremantle, Levina Teerlinc watches as Jane walks to the scaffold.

‘They appear then, Brydges first, ashen-faced, after him the Catholic man who was unable to convert her, both with their eyes cast down. And there she is, bold and straight, her psalter held open before her, lips moving in prayer, flanked by her two women who are barely holding back their tears. The scene engraves itself on Levina’s mind; the jet black of Jane’s dress against the drab stone of the Tower behind; the way the wind lifts the edges of everything, suggesting flight, the almost weeping ladies, their gowns lurid splashes of colour; the exact pallor of Brydges’s skin; the look of solemn serenity on Jane’s face. She is compelled to render this in paint.

…Jane Grey mounts the few steps and stands before the onlookers to speak. She is close enough that were Levina to reach up she could touch the edge of her skirts, but the wind takes the girl’s words and only snippets reach them. ‘I do wash my hands thereof in innocency…’ She makes the action, rubbing those small hands together. ‘I die a true Christian woman and that I do look to be saved by no other mean, but only by the mercy of God.’ She is cleaving to the new faith to the last and Levina wishes that she had a pinch of this girl’s unassailable fortitude.

When Jane is done she shrugs off her gown, handing it to her women, and unties her hood. As she pulls it away from her head her hair looses itself from it’s ribbons and flies up, beautifully, as if it will lift her to the heavens.’

(c) Penguin, p.6-7

In The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory, the preparations for her execution are narrated by Jane.

‘I read the Miserere in English, for God can understand English and it is superstition to think that He has to be addressed in Latin. John Feckenham follows me, speaking the words in Latin, and I think how beautiful the language is, and how sweet it sounds today, chiming and interweaving with the English words in the damp misty air with the seagulls calling over the river. I remember that I am only sixteen and that I will never see the river again. I can’t believe that I will never see the hills of Bradgate again, or the paths where Katherine and I used to walk under the trees, or my old pony in the field, or the caged old bear in the pit. The prayer lasts an oddly long time, a timeless time, and I am surprised when it ends and I have to give my things: my gloves, and my handkerchief, my prayer book. The ladies have to prepare me for this, my final royal-appearance. They take off my hood, my black hood trimmed with jet, and my collar. Suddenly the time is racing past when there were things I wanted to say, that I wanted to make sure that I saw before this moment. I am sure there were last words that I should say, memories that I should recall. It is all happening too fast now.

I kneel. I can hear Brother Feckenham’s steady voice. They put on the blindfold before I have had my last glimpse of the seagulls. I meant to look at the clouds, I meant to be sure of my last glimpse of the sky. Suddenly I know fear and I am in the white blankness of daylight blindfolded.

‘What shall I do? Where is it?’ I scream in a panic, and then someone guides my hands to the block and its solid square roughness tells me that my destiny is inexorable. This is the material world indeed, this is the most material thing I will ever touch. I realise it is the last thing I will ever touch. I grip the block, I even feel the grain of the wood. I have to put my head down on it. I note that the blindfold is wet with my tears, soft and hot against my closed eyelids. I must be crying and crying. But at least no-one can see, and whatever happens next, I know that it is not death for I will never die.’

(c) Simon & Schuster UK, p.106-107.


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