November 12, 1537 – Jane Seymour’s Funeral

Jane Seymour's Tombstone

Jane Seymour’s Tombstone

One month after the birth of her son, seventeen days after her death, Jane Seymour was buried in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Jane may never have gotten a coronation, but she was the first and only one of Henry’s wives to receive a queen’s funeral (Catherine of Aragon was carefully buried as Dowager Princess of Wales; Anne Boleyn was folded into an old arrow chest…). As was protocol, arrangements for the funeral were made by the Earl Marshall (the Duke of Norfolk) and Treasurer of the Household (Sir William Paulet), with advice from the Garter King of Arms who provided them with the precedents established at the death of Elizabeth of York.

The formalities began with a careful embalming. Dressed in gold and jewels before being sealed into her leaded coffin, her body lay in state for two weeks in a “chamber of presence” at Hampton Court. On October 31, the Vigil of the Feast of All Saints, the hearse was incensed and carried by torchlight to the Hampton Court Chapel where all present were asked to pray for her soul. The vigil around her continued there, with her ladies surrounding her by day and priests by night.

On November 12, she was transported to Windsor Castle in a solemn procession. Mary as chief mourner led the way, riding on a horse with black velvet trappings. Her bier was drawn by six horses accompanied by nobles and men with banners. Behind her was a procession of 29 of her ladies, one for every year of Queen Jane’s life. Alms were distributed to the poor who had come to pay their respects and watch the hearse pass.

The following inscription was above her grave for a time:

Here lieth a Phoenix, by whose death
Another Phoenix life gave breath:
It is to be lamented much
The world at once ne’er knew two such.

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