Lady Jane Grey, the nine-day queen of England, had connections to Bury St Edmunds. She was in fact the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor, who was married to the Duke of Suffolk.
Mary Rose Tudor was queen in her own right; her husband was King Louis XII of France, albeit for only a few months!
After Louis’ death, Mary went on to marry Charles Brandon, a courtier brought up in the royal household. His father was standard bearer to Mary’s father, Henry VII. Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor became the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk.
The Suffolks went on to have four children – two named Henry (one of whom died in infancy), an Eleanor, and a Frances. The latter married Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset, and they in turn were to have three daughters: Catherine, Jane and Mary.
Mary Tudor died at Westhorpe, Suffolk, on 25 June 1533, and was first interred at Bury St Edmunds Abbey. Her body was moved to nearby St Mary’s Church when the abbey was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Four years later, Jane was born to Henry and Frances. She married the Duke of Northumberland’s son, Lord Guildford Dudley.
With the death of Henry VIII, his sickly son Edward VI ascended the throne, reigning for just six years. On Edward’s deathbed, a promise to leave his protestant kingdom to Jane was extracted by her father-in-law, rather than to the legitimate heir, Princess Mary (a Catholic), daughter of Katherine of Aragon and half-sister to the dying king. However, the conspirators failed. Northumberland went to the block on Tower Hill in 1553, and poor Jane, barely seventeen, along with her husband, followed on February 12th 1554.