Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Question from Kristian - Jane Seymour's heart

Combining two topics recently posted, I have a question about removal and burial of Jane Seymour's heart.
When I visited the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace last month, I saw a plaque near the altar (facing the altar - it was free-standing on the floor to the right) that said Jane's heart was removed and buried there at Hampton while her body was, of course, buried with Henry.

I can find nothing else written to verify or contradict this.
Does anyone know more?
Has anyone else seen/read that plaque?


PhD Historian said...

Though I have not seen the plaque and was not aware that Jane Seymour's heart was buried at Hampton Court, there is a possible explanation for the choice.

Her son and Henry VIII's only legitimate male heir, Edward, was born at Hampton Court.

According to one authority on heart burial, "dynastic obligation" played a role in the custom of heart burial. Since Jane fulfilled her own "dynastic obligation" at Hampton Court, it makes sense that Henry had her heart buried there.

On heart burial, see http://herzbestattung.de/english/index.html?heartburial_0.html

Kristian said...

Thanks PhD H.
I found it interesting that when I researched it, I couldn't find this claim made anywhere else! The plaque was the first - and last - I'd heard of it.

Like you said, it makes perfect sense... so I thought more might have been made of it?

Lara said...

I didn't get a chance to look last night, but I a few books that might have something on this. I'll check tonight and see if I can find anything more.

Kristian said...

Thanks Lara - for as common as this practice seems to be, I'm surprised I haven't seen more on it.
The only other mention was on the reproduction of the effigy of Richard the Lionheart at the V&A - which actually states that that is his body but his heart is buried in France (Normandy).

Marilyn R said...

Richard I’s body was buried near his parents in Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou, his heart in Rouen Cathedral in Normandy and his brain in Charroux Abbey in Poitou. I read some time ago that he had expressed the wish that his entrails be buried in one of his territories he disliked the most and he hoped they would “stink out the cathedral” – I just can’t remember where it was. He requested that no part of him be buried in England, because he so hated the place.

Edward I’s wife, Eleanor of Castile, died near Lincoln, where she was subsequently embalmed. Her body went to Westminster Abbey and her heart to the Blackfriars’ Monastery in London. So what did we in Lincoln get? Yep, that’s it – her entrails are buried in Lincoln Cathedral!

Lara said...

Just a quick update - I checked a couple of books I have on Hampton Court and I didn't see any mention of this. I don't remember seeing the plaque myself, but it's been 9 years since my last visit to the Palace.

I'll keep an eye out for more info though, since I'm intrigued now!

Lara said...

I asked Kathy to take a look while she was at Hampton Court today and here's what she reported back:

A curator in the chapel said they believe that Jane's heart is buried under the altar, but they can't prove it without digging up the altar. He said there had never been a plaque of any kind on that specific point.

There was, however, a stand in the center aisle about halfway to the back of the chapel (not near the altar) that had an information sheet on it titled "Chapel Royal." Photography is not permitted in the Chapel so I couldn't take a picture, but I did write down the following that was included on the sheet:

"Only a few days later [after Edward VI's christening] it was swathed in black cloth to mourn the death of Edward's mother, Jane Seymour. Her heart may be buried here."

Kristian said...

Yes! Thank you! That's what I saw/read. (Although they moved where it stands, because to read it, I had to go to the front of the chapel - near the altar)

Like you, Lara, I was unable to find anything else that made this claim and I was beginning to think I "imagined" reading that! I wasn't at the pubs THAT much!!!

Anonymous said...

If I well remember, the entrails of Richard I were buried in the château de Châlus-Chabrol, in the French region of Haute Vienne

Claire Ridgway said...

When I was researching heart and entrails burial for a talk, I found the following about Jane Seymour remains in Letters and Papers:

"First the wax-chandler did his office, taking out the entrails "with searing, balming, spicing, and trammeling in cloth," then the plumber leaded, soldered, and chested; and her entrails were honourably interred in the chapel. Friday, 26 Oct., there was provided in the chamber of presence a hearse with 21 tapers about it, &c., and the corpse conveyed, in honourable wise, from the place where she died, and laid beneath the hearse. All the ladies and gentlewomen "put off their rich apparel, doing on their mourning habit and white kerchers hanging over their heads and shoulders," and there knelt about the hearse during mass afore noon and Dirige after; there was also a watch kept nightly until the last day of the month."
L&P xii, Part 2, 1060.

The chapel in question would be the Chapel Royal of Hampton Court Palace because this was done before her corpse was conveyed to Windsor. The heart tended to be removed along with the entrails.