The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society

Gillyflowers for Lord Guildford Dudley

The Dudley Carving in the Beauchamp Tower

The Dudley Carving in the Beauchamp Tower

Today has gone down in history as the anniversary of the execution of Lady Jane Grey, but she wasn't the only one executed that day, her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, was also executed.

Guildford was born in around 1535 and was the fourth surviving son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and his wife Jane (née Guildford). Guildford's family had negotiated for him to marry Margaret Clifford, daughter of Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland, but on 25th May 1553 he married Lady Jane Grey, in a triple marriage ceremony which also saw his sister Katherine marrying Lord Henry Herbert, son of the Earl of Pembroke, and Jane's sister Katherine marrying Lord Henry Hastings. They got married at the Dudley family's London residence, Durham Place.

On 6th July 1553, King Edward VI died. Edward had outlined his plans for the succession in a document called his "devise for the succession". In this document, which was written in his own hand, he disinherited his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, and named Lady Jane Grey, who was descended from Mary Tudor, Queen of France, as his successor. On 10th July 1553 Jane, Guildford, Jane's parents and Guildford's mother travelled by barge to the Tower of London, where they were greeted by Guildford's father, the Duke of Northumberland, and heralds proclaimed that Lady Jane Grey was now Queen Jane. Unfortunately for Jane and Guildford, her king consort, Edward VI's half-sister Mary was willing to fight for the crown and on 19th July 1553 Mary was proclaimed queen. At the Tower of London, Jane's father, the Duke of Suffolk, interrupted his daughter's evening meal to inform her that she was no longer queen. Her canopy of state was taken down and Jane and Guildford were taken prisoner.

On 13th November 1553, Jane, Guildford, Guildford's brothers Ambrose and Henry, and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer were tried for treason at a public trial at London's Guildhall. They were all found guilty and sentenced to death. Jane and Guildford were executed on 12th February 1554. Jane was about 16/17 and Guildford about 19 when they died. The others escaped death, although Cranmer was burned at the stake for heresy in March 1556.

A beautiful carving in the stone wall of the Beauchamp Tower, at the Tower of London, is a reminder of Guildford, his father and brothers, who were all imprisoned there in 1553. The carving features the bear and ragged staff (the badge of the Earls of Warwick) and the double-tailed lion rampant (the badge of the Dudley family). It also features a floral border with oak leaves and acorns for Robert Dudley (quercus robur is the Latin for English oak), roses for Ambrose Dudley, honeysuckle for Henry Dudley (lonicera henryi) and gillyflowers for Guildford Dudley. The inscription reads:

"You that these beasts do wel behold and se, may deme with ease wherefore here made they be, with borders eke within [there may be found] 4 brothers names who list to search the ground."

There are 5 comments Go To Comment

  1. Jennifer /

    Is that THE Robert Dudley, QEI’s beloved??

    1. Jude /

      Yes, that Robert Dudley

    2. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      Yes, that’s right.

  2. melanie taylor /

    In March 2007 David Starkey came to the conclusion that the Yale Miniature was that of Lady Jane Grey. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1544576/The-true-beauty-of-Lady-Jane-Grey.html will, hopefully, take you to the article. His research included the carving in the Beauchamp Tower and inventories in the British Library.

    Dr Starkey concluded the image was painated by Levina Teerlinc, and back in 2007 I had some correspondence with him because, like another art historian – Susan E James, I believe the portrait was painted by Susannah Horenbout, not Teerlinc. I am currently drafting a non-fiction book on my researches for my novel, The Truth of the Line, which will cover this miniature & its authorship.

    What is so special about the carving in the Beauchamp Tower is that it illustrates just how the various emblems used by each person carried such weight they were carved into the stone.

  3. Hein /

    Who did the engraving in the tower? The Dudleys’ themselves and how? Cause the carving is beautifully done.

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Gillyflowers for Lord Guildford Dudley

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