Tag Archives: Lady Chapel

On this day in 1533 – King Edward VI was buried in Westminster Abbey

On 8th August 1533 King Edward VI was buried beneath the altar of Henry VII’s Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey after his death on 6th July at the age of 15. The service was presided over by Thomas Cranmer and the new Queen allowed it to be performed following the Protestant faith and was the first service that followed the Protestant rites from the Book of Common Prayers. Queen Mary did not attend the service but instead stayed at the Tower of London and held a requiem masses that lasted three days.

Edward’s coffin remained unmarked until 1966 but when the coffin was seen in the 19th Century it was noted that it was inscribed with Latin that read;

Edward the sixth by the Grace of God King of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith and on earth under Christ supreme head of the churches of England and Ireland and he migrated from this life on the 6th of July in the evening at the 8th hour in the year of our Lord 1553 and in the 7th year of his reign and in the 16th year of his age.”

A merchant tailor Henry Machyn recorded the funeral procession in his diary;

The viij day of August was bered the nobull kyng Edward the vj, and vij yere of ys rayne; and at ys bere the grettest mone mad for hym of ys deth was hard or sene, boyth of all sorts of pepull, wepyng and lamentyng; and furst of alle whent a grett company of chylderyn in ther surples, and clarkes syngyng, and then ys father bedmen, and then ij harolds, and then a standard with a dragon, and then a grett nombur of ys servants in blake, and then anodur standard with a whyt greyhond, and then after a grett nombur of ys officers and after them comys mo harolds, and then a standard with the hed offesars of ys howse; and then harolds, Norey bare the elmett and the crest on horsbake, and then ys grett baner of armes in-brobery, and with dyvers odur baners, and ys sword, gorgyusly and ryche, and after Garter with ys cotte armur in broder, and then mor harolds of armes; and then cam the charett with grett horses trapyd with schochyon on ther horses, and then the charett covered with cloth of gold, and on the lay on a picture lying recheussly with a crown of gold, and a grett coler, and ys septur in ys hand, lyheng in ys robes [and the garter about his leg, and a coat in embroidery of gold; about the corps were borne four banners, a banner of the order, another of the red rose, another of queen Jane, another of the queen’s mother. After him went a goodly horse, covered with cloth of gold unto the ground, and the master of the horse, with a man of arms in armour, which] was offered, boyth the man and the horsse. [There was a go] odl hersse in Westmynster abbay with banar and pensells, and honge with velvet a-bowt.”

Memorial over grave of Edward VI, Westminster AbbeyThe plaque marking the tomb of King Edward VI

On this day in 1503 – Elizabeth of York is buried in Westminster Abbey

Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and mother to Henry VIII, was buried in Westminster Abbey on 23rd February 1503.

Elizabeth was betrothed to Henry Tudor whilst he was in exile planning his return to England to face Richard III. Henry defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth on 22nd August 1485 and was proclaimed king.

Henry took Elizabeth for his wife on 18th January 1486 with a service in Westminster Abbey. Their marriage united the Houses of York and Lancashire and ended the Wars of the Roses.

Elizabeth died on 11th February 1503 on her 37th birthday, days after giving birth to a daughter, Katherine, who unfortunately also died just a few days after being born. After her death Elizabeth lay in state at the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London before being interred to Westminster Abbey. Henry VII gave his wife a magnificent state funeral and spared no expense.

Elizabeth’s funeral procession began on 22nd February and was led by 200 men and women dressed in black and carrying torches. Behind them followed Elizabeth’s household members and clerics and then came Elizabeth’s coffin on a horsedrawn carriage accompanied by knights and nobles.

Behind the carriage were the Queen’s four sisters on horseback with four other noblewomen in single file each escorted by a gentleman dressed in black damansk. The procession was followed further by noblewomen and members of the royal household.

Following a night resting within the Abbey, masses were said with the Bishop of Lincoln presiding over the final requiem mass. When all the sermons and masses were over the Bishop of London sanctified the grave for the coffin to be lowered into the ground. The Queen’s chamberlain and gentlemen ushers broke their staffs of offie and threw them into the grave to signify the end of their employment in her name.

Henry VII declared that every 11th February a requiem mass was to be sung, bells tolled and 100 candles lit in honour of his Queen.

Work on the Tudor vault in Westminster Abbey had only just begun at the time of Elizabeth’s death and so she could not be interred here, instead she was temporarily laid to rest in a specially built vault made just for her between the high altar and the choir in the Abbey. It was only after the death of Henry VII in 1509 that she was re-interred to her final resting place in the Lady Chapel.

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