The Tower of London. wood-engraving, 2.7 cm high by 5.4 cm wide, framed, p. 33. Since Lady Jane Grey was not incarcerated in the Beauchamp Tower, one of her followers probably made the inscription, although tradition attributes that inscription to her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]— February 1840, George Cruikshank's headnote vignette for Book One, "Jane the Queen," Chapter V, in William Harrison Ainsworth's
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Jane not appearing, and some time having elapsed since her departure, her sisters, who were anxiously awaiting her return in the room adjoining the council-chamber, became so uneasy, that, notwithstanding her injunctions to the contrary, they resolved to go in search of her. Accordingly, bidding the ushers precede them, they descended to the chapel; and their uneasiness was by no means decreased on finding it buried in darkness, and apparently empty. As they gazed around in perplexity and astonishment, a deep-drawn sigh broke from the northern aisle; and, hurrying in that direction, they discovered the object of their search, who had been hidden from view by the massive intervening pillars, extended upon a seat, and just recovering from a swoon into which she had fallen. Revived by their assiduities, Jane was soon able to speak, and the first thing she uttered was a peremptory order that no alarm should be given, or assistance sent for. [Book One, Chapter V. — "Of the Misunderstanding That Arose Between Queen Jane and her Husband, Lord Guilford Dudley," p. 33]
Cruikshank has integrated Jane's name, unadorned with regal prefix, into the Ainsworth text, just as he and Ainsworth would have seen the crudely cut inscription in their monthly perambulations about the Tower of London while the novel was in serial publication. In fact, although many a prisoner scratched his or her name into the stones of the various rooms in the Tower of London complex, Lady Jane Grey is not the likely author of this particular inscription. Even though at this point in the narrative she is still very much the Queen, the placement of her engraved name at the beginning of the fifth chapter of the first book provides suitably gothic foreshadowing of her eventual fate.
Although she herself was probably never in the Beauchamp Tower, the inscription IANE on the stone wall of the great chamber traditionally commemorates her. The Beauchamp Tower had long been a prison for persons of rank. [Pitkin, p. 16]
Lady Jane's ghost has reputedly appeared in various locations at the Tower of London a number of times, each on the anniversary of her execution, 12 February 1554, the latest reported occasion having been on the night of 12 February 1957.
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Last modified 17 October 2017