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The Tudor Society

12 February – The executions of Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley

In today's "on this day in Tudor history", I take us back to the reign of Queen Mary I.

On 12 February 1554, Lady Jane Grey, formerly Queen Jane, and her husband Guildford Dudley were executed. Guildford was beheaded on Tower Hill and Jane was beheaded at the Tower of London. I explain what led to their executions and relates what happened at them.

You can also view my Claire Chats video on Lady Jane Grey's Final Days.

Click here to read more about their executions if you prefer articles to videos.

Also on this day in history:

  • 1542 – Catherine Howard was informed that she should “dispose her soul and prepare for death, for she was to be beheaded next day”.
  • 1567 – Death of Sir Thomas White, founder of St John's College, Oxford, and former Lord Mayor of London, at his property in Size Lane, London. He was buried in St John's College Chapel.
  • 1584 – Executions of five Catholic priests, including James Fenn. They were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Fenn was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929.
  • 1590 – Death of Blanche Parry, chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber, at the age of eighty-two. She was buried in St Margaret's, Westminster, with funeral rites which were usually reserved for a baroness. She has a monument in St Margaret’s and also one in Bacton Church, her home village in Herefordshire, which bears an inscription of twenty-eight lines of verse recording Blanche’s service to her beloved Queen.
  • 1611 – Probable date of death of Sir Henry Lee, Queen's Champion from c.1580 to November 1590. He was buried at Quarrendon in Buckinghamshire.

There are 5 comments Go To Comment

  1. L /

    Thank you Claire, for this very emotional, yet inspiring, description of Jane’s and Guildford’s executions… Their strength up to the end is really amazing..

    1. < / Post Author

      I always get choked up when I have to give accounts of executions, it just suddenly hits me that we’re talking about real people.

  2. M /

    This was very moving and interesting (as your video chat earlier). Thank you also for sharing about the carvings. I do find it romantic, in a sense, that quote possibly be carved that for her. Thanks, Claire!

    1. < / Post Author

      Thank you! The carvings are amazing, the walls are covered with them.

  3. R /

    The parts which made me sad are that Jane saw the body of Guildford after his execution on its way to his internment. That must have been truly heart breaking for her and she was already shaken and distressed to face her end at so young an age. Yes, she had prepared and was strong in her soul and mind and her faith, but she was still human and she had affection for young Dudley, no matter how much of an arrangement their marriage was. It is only natural she would be moved and shaken by the sight of her husband’s headless body.

    Another touching moment was when she wrote a letter to her sister, Catherine Grey and left her prayer book and telling her to be strong. Her own final moments are most moving, her final struggle to find the block, all very human.

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12 February – The executions of Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley