The site of the scaffold on Tower Green, as it is today. The Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula can be seen behind.
On 8 February 1554, Jane was told to prepare for death the following morning. It was on this day that Dr Feckenham, Mary's chaplain, visited her to offer religious counsel and the opportunity to convert to Catholicism before her death. Jane told him, 'I am ready to face death patiently and in whatsoever manner it may please the Queen to appoint.' She went on to say that she, had no time for the 'controversy,' between the two religions. All that she sought, was the peace to ready herself for death.
Feckenham took her reference to lack of time literally. He believed that Jane may have felt the need to recant her beliefs but did not have enough time to do so. He informed Mary, who granted Jane and Guildford a reprieve of three days for their 'spiritual enlightenment.' When Feckenham informed Jane, she was dismayed. 'Alas, sir! I did not intend what I said to be reported to the Queen, nor would I have you think me covetous of a moments longer life. I am only solicitous for a better life in Eternity and will gladly suffer death since it is Her Majesty's pleasure...Let me make my peace with God.'
Feckenham was later to report that he was struck by Jane's gentleness and honour. He asked that she may allow him to accompany her to the scaffold, to which she consented.
A representation of Lady Jane's execution.
It was decided that Guildford would be executed on Tower Hill and Jane within the confines of the Tower. On 11 February Guildford requested the right to meet with Jane. Mary consented, adding that she hoped it would be of some consolation to them both. When word was sent to Jane, she refused, replying that, 'it would disturb the holy tranquility with which they had prepared themselves for death.' Jane added that her presence would, 'weaken rather than strengthen him,' that he should, 'take courage from [his] reason, and derive constancy from [his] heart.' If his soul was not at peace she would not settle it with her eyes, nor confirm it with her words. They must postpone their meeting until they 'met in a better world, where friendships were happy, and unions indissoluble, and theirs,' she hoped, 'would be eternal.'
Around 10 o'clock on the morning of 12 February, Jane watched from her
window as her husband was led from the Beauchamp Tower on his way to Tower
Hill. She was still at the window when his body was brought back into the
Tower, his head wrapped in bandage at his side. Those in her company reported
later that she wept openly at the sight, and was heard to utter his name
and something about the 'bitterness of death.'
Left: Guildford's body is brought back to the Tower in a cart. Jane, the figure to the right, in black, looks on.
Jane had spent the morning in prayer and writing letters of farewell. Shortly before 11 o'clock she was collected by the Lieutenant of the Tower, Sir John Brydges. Jane then made her way to the scaffold, clutching Brydges arm.Yeoman of the Guard surrounded the wooden structure that had been erected the day before. At the scaffold, Jane was met by Dr Feckenham, along with several other Tower chaplains.
An observer recorded what took place. Jane then spoke to Feckenham; 'God grant you all your desires and accept my own hearty thanks for all your attention to me. Although indeed, those attentions have tried me more than death can now terrify me.' She then climbed the stairs, 'nothing at all abashed...neither her eyes moistened with tears, although her two gentlewomen...wonderfully wept.'
Jane then addressed the crowd and recited the fifty-first psalm in English. Dr Feckenham followed in Latin, after which she told him, ' God I beseech Him abundantly reward you for your kindness to me.'
Jane then gave her gloves and handkerchief to her lady-in-waiting, Mrs Ellen, and handed her prayer book to Sir John Brydges. When she began to untie her gown herself the executioner stepped forward to help, but she brushed him aside. Mrs Ellen helped her to remove her headdress and neckerchief, and dispense with her heavy outer garment. The executioner then knelt and asked for Jane's forgiveness, which she gave 'most willingly.' There followed a five minute silence, whereby officials await a last-minute reprieve from the Monarch.
The executioner then told Jane where to stand. She replied, 'I pray you despatch me quickly.' She began to kneel, then hesitated and said, 'Will you take it off before I lay me down?' The executioner answered, 'No madame.' Jane then tied the handkerchief around her eyes. Unable to locate the block, she became anxious, 'Where is it? What shall I do? Where is it?' she asked, her voice faltering. Those who stood upon the scaffold seemed unsure of what to do. 'One of the standers by' climbed the scaffold and helped her to the block. Her last words were, 'Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit.'
According to tradition, her head was then held aloft with the words, 'So perish all the Queen's enemies. Behold, the head of a traitor.'
And the sun, for sadness, would not show its head (Shakespeare)
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