History of The IANE Inscriptions

After watching the recent channel 5 television programme ‘inside the Tower of London’ that focused on the story of Lady Jane Grey, I noted that the famous Dudley carvings on the walls of the Beauchamp Tower were discussed as part of the programme.  Not discussed within this interesting documentary were the two other carvings associated with Jane’s story also carved into the walls of the same room.  

In 2018, I finally got the chance to visit the Tower of London as an adult.  Upon seeing the two small carvings in the Beauchamp Tower in person, I was instantly struck with an air of sadness.  To me, these two carvings symbolised so much of the history that had interested me for most of my life, and I knew so little about them.  Over the years, my interest in the story of Lady Jane Grey has led me to read a lot of printed material about her.  I was aware of the survival of the carvings, though I had read very little about the history that surrounds them.

My initial thought had been that the inscriptions had always been known about and that the tradition that they were associated with the story of Jane Grey had travelled down through the centuries.  This in turn prompted me to dig a little deeper in the hope of gaining a better understanding.

The aim of this article is to establish what is known about the two IANE inscriptions and to document some details regarding the history of these important artefacts, as so little has been written about them since their discovery. 

During my research for this article I have been unable to locate any reference regarding the two carvings of Jane’s name prior to the eighteenth century.  According to John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments, first published in 1563, Jane was supposed to have written the following two verses into the wall of her apartment with the use of a hair pin.

Do never think its strange,

Though now I have misfortune,

For if that fortune change,

The same to thee nay happen.”

“If God do help thee,

Hate shall not hurt thee;

If God do fail thee,

Then shall not labour prevail thee.”

Fox makes no mention of any other carvings showing Jane’s name within the walls of the Tower of London in his book.  Various searches over the years have been made at the Tower in the hope of locating the above inscriptions noted by Fox, but the house in which Jane is recorded as being held was demolished in the eighteenth century.  It was replaced with the existing building today which stands between the Queens House and the Beauchamp Tower.[1]

The two inscriptions were first discovered in 1796. During this period, the upper room of the Beauchamp Tower was being converted for the use of officers of the garrison.  Prior to this, the room had been used for domestic use, and the walls had been plastered over and painted, thus eliminating any traces of earlier inhabitants.

During the renovations, the plaster was removed from the walls, which in turn revealed a large number of inscriptions etched into the stonework.  On discovery of these, it was immediately noted that a lot of the carvings where associated with prominent figures in history who had been imprisoned within this room at the tower.

Reverend John Brand, Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, was the first to discuss the carvings in a meeting held on 17th November 1796.  Notes from the meeting were published in the Archaeologia Journal in 1800, and this also gave us our first visual view of the inscriptions found.

Within this meeting, Brand discussed the discovery of the inscriptions, referring to them as ‘undoubted autographs made at different periods.’ Brand was also noted to firmly claim that the IANE inscription was made by Lady Jane Grey herself, reporting that this had been done ‘as a statement that not even the horrors of prison would force her to relinquish her title as queen.’[2]  This in turn led to a number of artists creating images of Jane either making the inscription herself or depicted within the room containing an inscription of her name.

It is not known how or why Brand had come to this conclusion as the exact place in which Jane was housed when prisoner at the Tower was documented within the Chronical of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary.  This book was thought to have been written by a resident at the Tower of London who notes that Jane was imprisoned in Partridge’s House and not the Beauchamp Tower. [3]

This claim was eventually corrected with the publication of a book in 1825 by John Bayley.  In this, Bayley discussed the fact that Lady Jane herself was imprisoned in the house of the Gentleman Gaoler on Tower Green, also known as Partridge’s House.  He reports that due to this, the inscriptions could not have been made by her hand, noting that it’s highly unlikely that Jane would have been allowed to spend time in the prison cell allotted to her husband.  Bayley then suggests that the inscriptions were actually made by Guildford Dudley himself or one of his brothers in memory or honour of Jane Grey.[4]

It is Bayley’s theory that sticks today.  It could be argued that if the inscription was made by one of the Dudley brothers, then it might not in fact represent Lady Jane Grey but their mother, who was also called Jane Dudley.  The face that two inscription of the same name survives may represent the two Jane’s within the brothers lives, though it is up to the individual viewer to decide.   


[1] Treasures of the Tower Inscription, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, page 14

[2] Brand. John, An Account of The Inscriptions Discovered on The Walls of An Apartment in the Tower of London, Archaeologia, XIII, Page 68-91

[3] Nichols, J. G, The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt, Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, Llanerch Publishers, 1850, page.25

[4] Bayley, John, History and Antiquities of the Tower of London, 1825, page.162

The Portraits of Lord Guildford Dudley

One of the lesser known and in some cases forgotten characters in the story of Lady Jane Grey is her husband Lord Guildford Dudley.  Various articles have been written on the iconography of Lady Jane Grey and the numerous portraits thought to depict her.  Almost nothing has been written relating to the iconography of her husband, which is why I have decided to write and include this article on this website.   

As discussed in previous articles, a small number of portraits held in private collections have been associated with Lord Guildford Dudley over the passage of time. During the research for this article, I have so far been unable to locate any sixteenth century references to a portrait of Lord Guildford Dudley being held in collections.  

The first documented reference located so far to a portrait of him appears in 1820, a portrait sold by a Mr Bullock of London.  This was formerly in the collection of a Mr David Holt Esq of Manchester, and the catalogue for the sale describes the painting as being by a Sir A. Mor. The entry for the lot is as follows:

A portrait of lady jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley in one frame, the latter portrait is the only one known to exist of Lord Guildford[1]

This portrait was again sold in 1833 and has now disappeared from the historical record.

As with Lady Jane Grey, so little is known about her husband. His story has been embellished and exaggerated to enable writers to make the character of Jane Grey appear vulnerable to the manipulation and bullying by others that surrounded her. His story, like that of his wife, has been surrounded by myths with little known today of the actual person.    

Similar to his wife, there is no date recorded to inform us of the exact date on which Guildford Dudley was born.  Traditionally, his year of birth has been recorded as either 1534 or 1536, but recent research produced by Susan Higginbotham suggests that he may have possibly been born between 1537 and 1538, thus making him the same age as Jane Grey or possibly younger.[2]

We also have no detailed description as to what Guildford Dudley looked like.  As discussed in previous articles, the description given by Richard Davey detailing Guildford’s features as he entered the Tower of London with Jane as queen in 1553 has today been proved to be an invention by the author.  We are simply left with vague references to him being “handsome” by his contemporaries which give us nothing in terms of his physical features.[3]

The aim of this article is to look at the portraits that have been associated with Lord Guildford Dudley in the past in the hope of establishing if there is any possibility of any of these being a genuine image painted from life.  Where possible I have included what is known about the provenance of the image in the hope of establishing some documented order.   

The Madresfield Court Portrait
Called Lord Guildford Dudley
Unknown Artist
Oil on Panel
© Madresfield Court

Our first portrait appears publicly in a book published in the early twentieth century entitled “The Tower of London” by Ronald Sutherland Gower.  Traditionally identified as Lord Guildford Dudley, this painting has for many years been displayed alongside another thought to represent his wife Lady Jane at Madresfield Court in Malvern, Worcestershire.  Both portraits have been in the collection of the Earls of Beauchamp since the early nineteenth century.

Neither portrait is an authentic likeness. The portrait thought to represent Lady Jane Grey is discussed in detail by John Stephan Edwards, and it is concluded within his article that the artist who painted the portrait intended it to be a representation of Mary Magdalene and not Jane Grey.[4]    

The portrait thought to represent Lord Guildford Dudley shows a male figure standing to the viewers left with his righthand on hip and his left hand resting on his sword. He wears a light-coloured doublet with high standing collar and a large figure-of-eight ruff.  The sitter has dark hair and wears a black bonnet that includes goldsmith work and two feathers within its decoration.  He is depicted in front of a dark background and in the top left-hand corner is an inscription which reads 1566 Æ SVÆ, 20.

The first questionable aspect of this painting is the inscription. This is inconsistent with the known facts of Guildford Dudley’s life and is dated to some twelve years after his execution in 1554.  It is not truly known how this image became associated with Guildford, though it appears that whoever suggested the identity did not know the year in which he died.   The date is also inconsistent with the costume worn by the sitter, particularly the large circular ruff seen at his neck and the hat worn by the sitter.  This style of ruff dates to the later period of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and is seen in many portraits painted during the 1580’s.  During the 1560’s the smaller figure-of-eight ruff which generally surrounded the face was in common use.  This again suggest that the inscription itself was probably added later and that this painting was not meant by the artist who created it to be a representation of Lord Guildford Dudley.

It is highly likely that Guildford’s name was associated with this portrait with little reason behind it.  Nothing is seen within the painted image to establish that this portrait was ever painted from life or was ever meant to be a depiction of Lord Guildford Dudley.

The Tyntesfield Portrait

The Tyntesfield Portrait
Called Lord Guildford Dudley
Unknown Artist
Oil on Paper Laid Down on Panel
13 x 9 1/2 inches
© The National Trust

Named in this article after its current location, this portrait is now in the collection of The National Trust at Tyntesfield House, though it is not currently on display.

This image depicts a young gentleman with blonde hair, painted three-quarter length and facing the viewer’s right.  He is wearing a black hat with a yellow feather, a black doublet embellished with gold, and a dark fur overcoat with yellow sleeves.  The sitter’s right hand is resting on a sword that is attached to his hips.

This portrait was purchased as a painting of Guildford Dudley by George Adraham Gibbs, 1st Baron Wraxhall (1873-1931).  On his death it passed to his son Richard Lawley Gibbs, 2nd Baron Wraxhall (1922-2001) and was subsequently purchased by the National Trust in 2002.[5]

The National Trust collections website describes this painting as being both British made and created using oil on paper applied to panel.  It is also noted to report that the portrait is probably nineteenth century in origin. Though no scientific investigation has taken place on this image to establish a date of creation, the style of the painting is more consistent with nineteenth century techniques than that of sixteenth century techniques.  

Until a firm date of creation can be established, It is more than likely that this portrait is an imaginary image of Guildford Dudley rather than a sixteenth century painting painted from life or based on a pre-existing image.

The Wroxton Abbey Portrait

The Wroxton Abbey Portrait
Called Lord Guildford Dudley
Unknown Artist
Oil on Panel
13 x 11 inches
© Private Collection

The third and final portrait is the more interesting of the three, due to it being exhibited publicly on at least two occasions as an image of Guildford Dudley. This portrait was also used by the artist Richard Burchett in 1854 as a basis for his depiction of Lord Guildford Dudley when producing the images of the royal Tudor figures for the Prince’s Chamber’s in the Palace of Westminster.[6]

Lord Guildford Dudley
Richard Burchett
1854
© Palace of Westminster

The original painting once again shows an image of a young gentleman, painted three-quarter length and holding a pair of gloves in his right hand, with his left hand on his hip.  The sitter wears a black doublet with large white sleeves, embroidered with gold thread.  Placed over his right shoulder, is a cape of dark fabric with fur and at his neck is a large circular ruff. 

The earliest documentation regarding this image is the exhibition catalogue for the Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857 held in Manchester. The portrait is described in the catalogue as

item 383. Lord Guildford Dudley from the collection of Col North MP[7]

The painting again appears in the National Portrait Exhibition held at the South Kensington Museum in April 1866 where a description was given

Item 191. Lord Guildford Dudley. Colonel and Baroness North – Half-length, small life size, ruff, doublet and surecoat black with dark fur, white gold-embroidered sleeves, gloves in r hand. Panel 14 x 11 inches.[8]

The Colonel North MP listed as the owner of the painting is John North, also known as John Doyle, of Wroxton Abbey.  Wroxton Abbey is a seventeenth-century manor house and was the home of the Pope and North family from 1677 until 1932, when it was leased to Trinity College.  A sale was held of the contents of Wroxton Hall in May 1933 that included the portrait of Guildford Dudley matching the description of the portrait which appeared in the National Portraits Exhibition catalogue, displayed in the Garden Parlour.

Item 690. Small portrait on panel of Guildford Dudley, holding gloves in right hand.  Believed to be the only known contemporary portrait.[9]

What is seen from the image of the portrait is that once again the sitter is wearing a costume that dates to the 1580’s rather than what would have been worn by Guildford Dudley during his lifetime.  Richard Burchett also appears to notice this when creating his image of Guildford for the Palace of Westminster and has adapted his image to fit with a more consistent costume that Guildford would have worn.

On completion of the Wroxton Abbey sale, the portrait then passed into a private collection though was subsequently sold again at auction on 29th September 1993.

As far as I am aware the three portraits discussed above are the only known portraits associated with Lord Guildford Dudley.  As this article shows none contain any clues in favours of the sitter being positively identified as him and so Guildford Dudley remains faceless.


[1] Catalogue of pictures of David Holt Esquire of Manchester, 14th July 1820

[2] Higginbotham, Susan.  How old was Guildford Dudley? https://www.susanhigginbotham.com/posts/how-old-was-guildford-dudley-beats-me/ accessed September 2019.

[3]Edwards, John Stephan, https://somegreymatter,com/lettereengl.htm, accessed September 2019. 

[4] Edwards, John Stephan. A Queen of a New Invention Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley, Old John Publishing, 2015, Page 137-139

[5] http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/21094 accessed, September 2019.

[6] Wallis, George. The Royal House of Tudor, Cundall and Fleming, 1866, Page 70

[7] https://archive.org/details/catalogueofarttr00artt/page/n449, accessed September 2019

[8]https://archive.org/details/catalogueoffirst00sout/page/n51?q=lord+guildford+dudley+colonel+and+baroness+north, accessed September 2019

[9] E.H. Tipping, Wroxton Abbey Sale, Monday, May 22nd, 1933, Page 24