Much against her will, Jane had been proclaimed Queen by her scheming family after the death of her cousin King Edward VI. She reigned for only nine days before surrendering happily to Edward’s sister Mary, the rightful successor. She had found the whole queen experience so stressful that her skin had flaked and her hair was beginning to fall out.
Jane was taken back to the Tower of London after pleading guilty to treason. She was imprisoned in the brown house (mid right) for the next three months while her cousin Queen Mary debated what to do with her.
Eventually, Mary decided that Jane and her husband must die. They were executed on 12 February 1554. Dudley asked Jane for a farewell meeting the night before. She refused to see him, fearing that she would break down and cry, but did agree to watch next morning as he was led out to execution.
Dudley wasn’t royal, so he was taken out of the Tower and beheaded on Tower Hill just before 10 a.m. As the great niece of Henry VIII, Jane was given a private, more privileged execution here on Tower Green. Doctors checked beforehand to make sure she wasn’t pregnant.
Putting her head out of an upstairs window, Jane had a look at the scaffold (foreground) before emerging for execution. But the scaffold wasn’t the only thing she saw as she looked out. She saw something else as well, something unutterably horrible that no young girl should have to see.
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 80. What ghastly sight did Lady Jane Grey see from the window on the morning of her execution?