The Brick Tower as it appeared to the author and his illustrator in March 1840 — George Cruikshank. April 1840 number, fourth instalment. Twenty-seventh illustration (the sixteenth wood-engraving) in William Harrison Ainsworth's The Tower of London, April 1840 instalment. 6.7 cm high x 9.4 wide, vignetted, centre of p. 126. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

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Related Passage

For a short distance the two escorts walked close together, during which the afflicted pair kept their eyes fondly fixed on each other. After passing the north-west corner of the White Tower, Lord Guilford's attendants took a straight-forward course, while Jane's guards proceeded to the right. Still but a short distance intervened between them, until Jane beheld her husband disappear beneath the low-arched entrance of the Bowyer Tower. A convulsive movement passed over her frame; but the next moment she was apparently as calm as ever, and followed the officer into the structure destined for her reception.

This, as has already been intimated, was the Brick Tower, the next turret on the east of the Bowyer Tower. The upper story, which is of brick — whence its name — was erected in the reign of Edward the Fourth, or Richard the Third: the basement story is of stone, and of much greater antiquity.

Entering a narrow passage, she was ushered by the officer into a small room, which he informed her was prepared for her reception. Everything that circumstances would admit appeared to have been done to lessen the rigour of her confinement. The stone walls were hung with arras; and much of the furniture a carved oak table, and velvet-covered scats, placed in the deep embrasures of the windows — had been brought from Jane's late chamber in the palace. [Chapter II, "How Jane was imprisoned in the Brick Tower," pp. 125-26]


Although Lady Jane​ Grey was but one of a number of prisoners of state incarcerated​ in the Brick Tower, one of the more recent towers located opposite the city on the north-east of the Inner Ward, she is probably the most memorable. Built during the reign of King Henry III (1238-1272)​, the Brick Tower had one other notable occupant, Sir Walter Raleigh, whom Elizabeth I​imprisoned for marrying one of her ladies-in-waiting without the Queen's permission.

The facing steel engraving of the anguished Jane complements Ainsworth's limited omniscient analysis of her despair at being imprisoned and separated from her husband. The simple, unshaded wood-engraving of the bare room in 1840 on the verso and the atmospheric steel-engraving facing it, recto, complement each other effectively. On page 126, without the shading of any emotion Cruikshank depicts Jane's room in the Brick Tower just as he and Ainsworth must have seen it in 1840. It is not merely devoid of the spirit of historical romance; it is a completely bare but well-lit chamber devoid of any furnishings whatsoever in the wood-engraving dropped into the dramatic text in which Jane laments her fate as an unfriended and "solitary captive." Under the emotional stress of her situation, she breaks down as she pictures her husband and former consort now, like her, a political prisoner. Since the windows in the steel-engraving are arched whereas those of the 1840 illustration are squared, we may deduce that Jane's agonising over her situation occurs in another room within the Brick Tower. Cruikshank deliberately limits the available source of light to heighten the dramatic effect of Jane's bare neck stretched out over the chair. As opposed to denuded but well-lit walls, the larger illustration contains a stained-glass window and elements of tapestries to the right and left of that window. In particular, the scene to the right appears to be of a royal family, a shadowy reminder of the lofty status that Jane only briefly enjoyed.


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Last modified 9 October 2017