In The Shadow of the Tudors: Lady Jane Grey and Her Sisters

Talk Special Event Heritage

Join us at Southwark Cathedral for this day of talks about Lady Jane Grey, the nine-day Queen.

In July 1553, Tudor England plunged into political and military crisis. Henry VIII's young son, Edward VI, died at the age of just fifteen, leaving no male heir. For the first time, a woman would wear the English crown, but who: Edward's Catholic half-sister Mary, or his Protestant cousin Jane Grey?

On his deathbed, Edward named sixteen-year-old Jane as his heir. As fierce a Protestant as Edward, Jane was proclaimed queen and taken to the Tower of London to await her coronation. But Mary would not accept her disinheritance - and neither would the country. Nine days later, Jane's brief reign was over, and seven months after that, she lost her head on the block.

Historians Melita Thomas, Dr Joanne Paul, Dr Nicola Tallis and Alison Weir, over the course of the day, explore this dramatic story, examining key events, documents and characters, and assessing Jane's role in the coup that cost her life. The tragic tale of the Nine Days' Queen is a breathless political thriller as well as a defining moment in the history of England.

This is event is in partnership with Tudor Times and is in-person only.


10.00am – Doors Open

10.30am – Talk 1 – Melita Thomas

Melita is a director and editor of Tudor Times, currently researching for her PhD in Early Modern Studies at UCL. In her second book, The House of Grey: Friends and Foes of Kings, Melita explores how the Greys of Ferrers & Groby rose to national prominence with the marriage of Elizabeth Woodville, the mother of Thomas Grey, to Edward IV. From that day forward, the family was at the heart of the royal court – present at nearly every important marriage, battle, christening or state visit, until Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, brought the family crashing down to disaster… In this talk, Melita will focus on the mother-son relationships in the Grey family – sometimes supportive, but often deeply troubled.

11.45am – Talk 2 – Dr Joanne Paul

Joanne is Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex and an expert in Tudor and Renaissance history. She has published widely in both academic and popular presses, as well as sharing her work on TV, radio, podcasts and in print publications. Her widely acclaimed first trade book, The House of Dudley, was a sweeping epic non-fiction, detailing three generations of the infamous Dudley family as they rose to the heights of power and fatally fell, ending their lives on the block. This talk will highlight the many connections between the Grey and Dudley families, giving unique insights into how their tempestuous fortunes were intertwined.

12.45am – Lunch Break

1.45pm – Talk 3 – Dr Nicola Tallis

Nicola received her doctorate from the University of Winchester, with a study of royal jewels, shortly to be published as All the Queen's Jewels 1445-1548: Power, Majesty and Display. Three of Nicola’s books have been published, all studies of fascinating sixteenth century women – Margaret Beaufort, Lettice Knollys, and Jane Grey. Her work on Jane in Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey, has brought to light a far more rounded, politically, and religiously engaged, and proactive woman than the centuries-old stereotype of Jane as a passive victim. In her talk, Nicola will be sharing these insights.

3.00pm Talk 4 – Alison Weir

Alison hardly needs an introduction – the best-selling female history writer in the UK, she has myriad titles, both fiction and non-fiction to her name. Today, Alison will tell us more about Jane Grey’s less well-known sister, Katherine Grey, heroine of her novel, A Dangerous Inheritance.

Sweeping and suspenseful, the novel brings to life two girls who were the victims of others’ ruthless ambitions. Not yet thirteen, Lady Katherine Grey has just married a handsome young man from a suitable family when a political coup places her sister, Lady Jane Grey, on the English throne. But when the Catholic Mary Tudor claims her rightful crown, allegiances quickly shift, the Protestant Jane meets a harrowing end, and Katherine’s happiness is shattered. Seven decades earlier, Kate Plantagenet, bastard daughter of Richard III, is swept up in her father’s usurpation of the throne. Disturbed by sinister rumours that he has secretly ordered the murder of her cousins, the Princes in the Tower, she is determined to find proof of his innocence - even if it puts her own life in peril. Katherine Grey and Kate Plantagenet are linked across the generations by marital and supernatural ties, and their need to know the truth about one of England's most famous mysteries. In her talk, Alison will discuss the history behind the fiction.

4.00pm – Break

4.30pm – Panel with all four speakers taking questions from the audience.

5.00pm – End

Image: The execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche (Wiki Commons)