Inside the Tower of London – Series 4 Episodes 1, 2, 3 and 4

(c) Channel 5

Series 4 – Episode 1

Narrator – The Lieutenant is the second in command of the entire Tower complex and historically would have been in charge of the most high-profile prisoners from Lady Jane Grey to Guy Fawkes.

Series 4 – Episode 2

Narrator – Tracy Borman is researching one of the darkest times in the life of her favourite monarch, Elizabeth I. The Tower is famous for its grim stories of torture and execution and in 1554 when the staunchly Catholic Queen Mary imprisoned her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth for allegedly plotting against her, Elizabeth got to see first hand just how terrifying a stay at the Tower could be.

Tracy Borman – On the 18th March 1554, Elizabeth was led along Water Lane to the place where she was to be held. She was just 20 years old and what must have been running through her mind?

Narrator – Queen Mary had crammed the Tower full of Protestant rebels, all accused of trying to overthrow her and put Elizabeth on the throne instead.

Tracy Borman – Elizabeth did not know how long she would be held here or even if she would leave alive.

Narrator – Elizabeth was kept in a building known as the Queen’s apartments and there was an extra twist of the knife for her.

Tracy Borman – She knew full well that 18 years earlier her mother, Anne Boleyn had been imprisoned in these same rooms. Her stay had only lasted 17 days and she had then been executed just a few feet away.

Narrator – Darkness lurked in every corner, even the view from her window filled her with dread.

Tracy Borman – It is possible that from these rooms, Elizabeth could have seen the scaffold over on Tower Green, where another of Mary’s enemies, Lady Jane Grey had been beheaded 4 weeks earlier. So Elizabeth knew exactly what might happen to her.

Series 4 – Episode 3

Narrator – When Edward VI died aged just 15, his last act was to leave the throne to his Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey. But Henry’s older daughter, Mary, a Catholic had a much stronger claim to the throne than Jane and she wasn’t going to let it go without a fight. Historic Royal Palaces Chief Curator, Tracy Borman, has been researching Mary’s battle to snatch the crown.

Tracy Borman – To win it, she needed the support of the Privy Council, a group of powerful noblemen who would ultimately decide who would succeed King Edward.

Narrator – Mary’s first step was to send a letter to the Privy Council, the most important committee in the land. They used to meet right here in the Queen’s House at the Tower.

Tracy Borman – This is the Tower’s Council chamber and it was right here that for centuries decisions were made that would make or break individual monarchs or even decide the fate of the nation. It is not open to the public, so it feels like such a privilege to be standing here. If only these walls could talk.

Narrator – It may have been in this space that the Council read Mary’s letter for the first time.

Tracy Borman – In it she demands to be recognised as the rightful Queen, she writes:

We require you and charge you that of your allegiance, our right and title to the crown and governance of this realm, be proclaimed in our City of London.

This is a staggeringly brave and bold course of action by Mary. In effect, she is attempting a coup.

Narrator – Mary’s daring claim soon gathers support and in days the Privy Council backed her. Lady Jane Grey was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower. Two weeks later on August 3rd, guarded by a thousand soldiers and dressed in purple robes, Mary came to the Tower to claim her crown.

Tracy Borman– Mary entered the Tower in triumph, she had to fight her way through the crowds, their cheers ringing in her ears, also the sound of church bells. Emotions were running so high that it is said people were weeping in sheer joy. In the eyes of the vast majority of Mary’s subjects, she was the rightful Queen and Lady Jane Grey was a mere usurper. And that is because blood mattered to the Tudors. Mary was the daughter of the great King Henry VIII, so had every right to the throne.

Narrator – But Mary was defined by her Catholic faith. Now Queen, her goal was simple, to purge the country of Protestantism and restore the Catholic Church at all costs.
Today, the religious centre of the Tower is the Chapel of St Peter Ad Vincula, built by Mary’s father, Henry VIII, five centuries ago. This would have been one of the first places Mary visited after she arrived at the Tower.

Tracy Borman – I like to imagine what Mary must have been feeling as she knelt here to pray. Perhaps she took a moment to come to terms with the enormity of what had just happened. She was after all the first woman to rule England in her own right.

Series 4 – Episode 4

Yeoman Warder – That is the final resting place of Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Katherine Howard, Queen Jane Grey. That is the celebratory A list of the 16th century folks.

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