Friday, October 13, 2006

Lady Jane Grey and other tragic women....

Since arriving in London, I have wanted to visit the Tower of London. I have been there twice before, once as a child and once as a teenager. The place has always amazed and fascinated me. I love castles - all the little hidden places to explore and feeling all that history trapped in one place.

My desire to visit there in recent years has been triggered by my interest in women through history. I have a great amount of empathy for Henry VIII's wives. Two of which - Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard - died at the tower. However, it is not them that I feel the most for. It's Lady Jane Grey, the nine days queen, who has captured my interest.

I blame the film with Helena Bonham Carter in it, that I saw at my gran's house as a child. The story of how such a young, innocent person could be executed seemed so terrible and tragic. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is still tragic. A young woman who was, by all accounts, well-educated, was used as a pawn by her family and died for it.

I think I connected with the historical figure of Jane Grey in some deep way that I cannot really understand. Everytime I think of her and her tragic end, it makes me very sad. So, I wanted to go and pay my respects in the chapel where she was buried. To do this, you have to do a yeoman warder tour as they escort you in there. It's a small chapel next to Tower Green called St Peter ad Vincula. Buried there are Jane Grey and her husband, Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Margaret Pole and many others. It's a very sad little place but I am glad we managed to spend some time in there.

Even sadder was seeing all the carvings made by the prisoners in the Beauchamp Tower. Some of them were very beautiful but many were just names. Two carvings just simply said "IANE" and were probably carved by supporters of Jane Grey (J wasn't in use at the time). Those carvings broke my heart and all that I could think was "why?" I really don't think I'll ever understand.


Anonymous Sarah-Jane said...

Thank you for your emotive description, Jane Grey has captured my heart since i first learned of her at Primary School, i am often astounded how unaware people can be of their history, many people have never heard of her.
The trials and tribulations borne by these women have shaped the way we live our lives today and thank goodness we are not used and played for our sex and faith any longer

11:43 am  

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