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Anne (Stanhope), Duchess of Somerset & Jane Seymour

Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset is buried in St Nicholas' chapel in Westminster Abbey and has a large monument there. This is mainly of alabaster with an effigy of the Duchess in a red ermine-lined robe wearing a coronet. At her feet is the crest of a blue triple-towered castle, from the Stanhope coat of arms. The monument consists of columns, obelisks and shields of arms including those of the Seymour and Stanhope families. Below the uppermost shield was once the date 1588, being that of the erection of the monument by her son. The monument was cleaned and restored in the early 1960s. The inscription, which also says a lot about her husband, is given in both Latin and contemporary English:

Heare lieth entombed the noble duchesse of Somerset, Anne, deere spouse unto the renowned prince Edward Duke of Somerset, Earle of Hertford, Viscount Beauchampe and Baron Seymour, Compaignon [Companion] of the most famous knightly Order of the Garter: uncle to King Edward the Sixt, Gouvernor of His Roial Person and most worthie Protector of all his realmes, dominions, and subiectes: Leiutenant Generall of all his armies: threasoror and Erle Marschall of England, Gouvernor and capitayne of the Isles of Guernsey and Jersey: under whose prosperous conduct, glorious victory hath ben so often and so fortunatly obteyned over the Scottes, vanquished at Edinburgh, Leth [Leith], and Musselborough Field.
A princesse discended of noble lignage, beinge daughter of the worthie knight Sr Edward Stanhope, by Elizabeth his wyfe that was daughter of Sr Foulke Bourghchier Lord Fitzwarin, from whome our moderne earles of Bathe ar spronge, sonne was he unto Willm. Lord Fitzwarin, that was brother to Henry, Earle of Essex and Ihon [John] Lord Berners: whome Willm. their sire sometyme Earle of Ev in Normandy, begat Anne the sole heire of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, yonger sonne to the mighty Prince, Kinge Edward the Third, and of his wyfe Aleanore, coheire unto the tenth Humphrey De Bohun that was Erle of Hereford, Essex and Northampton, High Constable of England.
Many children bare this lady unto her Lord, of either sort: to witte Edward, Erle of Hertford, Henry, and a younger Edward: Anne, Countesse of Warwike, Margaret, Jane, Mary, Katherine, and Elizabeth. And with firme faith in Christ in most mylde maner renred she this life at XC yeres of age on Easter day, the sixtenth of Aprill Anno.M.CCCCC.LXXXVII.
The Erle of Hertford, Edward her eldest sonne, in this dolefull dutie carefull and diligent, doth consecrate this monument to his deere parent: not for her honor wherewith lyvinge she did abounde and nowe departed flourisheth: but for the dutifull love he beareth her, and for his laste testification therof.

She was the second wife of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, brother of Jane Seymour, queen of Henry VIII. After the death of Henry the Duke was appointed guardian to his nephew King Edward VI and Protector of the Realm. He was later deprived of this office and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Being then accused of high treason he was beheaded.

Anne married secondly her late husband's steward Francis Newdigate and died on 16th April 1587. Her son Edward was born on 22nd May 1539. She has been described as 'a mannish, or rather devilish, woman...for pride monstrous, exceeding subtle and violent'.

Lady Jane Seymour

In the neighbouring chapel of St Edmund is a mural monument to her daughter Lady Jane (one of the earliest of such monuments in the Abbey) who died in 1560 aged 19. This was also put up by Lord Hertford and the inscription reads:

The noble Lady Jane Seymour, daughter to the renowned prince Edward Duke of Somerset, Earl of Hertforde, Vicounte Beauchampe and Baron Seymour, and to the right noble Lady, Anne Duchess of Somerset his wyfe; departed this lyfe in her virginite at ye age of XIX yeares, the XIX daie of Marche A.D. M.CCCCC.LX, in the seconde yeare of the moste happie raigne of Queene Elizabeth, and was honorablie buryed in the floore of this chappel. To whose memorie, Edward Earle of Hertforde and Baron Beauchampe, her deare brother, hathe caused this monument to be made

William Camden, in his guidebook to the Abbey published in 1600, also noted some lines of Latin verse and these may have been set up on a board near the monument. These lines can be translated:

Jane was possessed of outstanding talents and an elegant beauty, noted for her singing and her skill in handicrafts, and so Venus and Pallas [Athene] vie with each other as to which should claim her, Venus wanting her for her own, and Pallas wanting her for her own. But cruel Death, plunging his weapon into her maiden breast, says "To neither of you shall she belong, but the prize has fallen to me. Jane's body is fallen, dust will return to dust, but her pious spirit dwells in the heights of heaven.

Thomas of Woodstock and Eleanor de Bohun are buried in the Abbey.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004 for the Duchess of Somerset and Lady Jane

Died

16th April 1587

Location

Chapel of St Edmund; Chapel of St Nicholas

Memorial Type

Statue; tablet

Material Type

Alabaster

Anne (Stanhope), Duchess of Somerset & Jane Seymour
Anne, Duchess of Somerset

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Anne (Stanhope), Duchess of Somerset & Jane Seymour
Lady Jane Seymour

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Anne (Stanhope), Duchess of Somerset & Jane Seymour
Anne's effigy

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

I’ve worked here for over thirty years and have seen many of the major services - it’s strange to realise that you are in a small way part of history.

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Pamela - Rector's Secretary

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