August 3 – The new queen and her half-sister process through London

Posted By on August 3, 2022

On this day in Tudor history, 3rd August 1553, the newly proclaimed queen, Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, processed through the streets of London. She was accompanied by her half-sister, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Mary had claimed the throne from Queen Jane, Lady Jane Grey, her cousin’s daughter, and Jane was now imprisoned in the Tower.

Hear a contemporary account of the procession and celebrations…


On this day in Tudor history, 3rd August 1553, the newly proclaimed Queen Mary I, rode with her younger half-sister, Elizabeth, from Wanstead to Aldgate to be greeted by the city as its new queen.

Chronicler Charles Wriothesley describes Mary’s appearance that day:
“Her gown of purple velvet, French fashion, with sleeves of the same, her kirtle, purple satin all thick set with goldsmith’s work and great pearl, with her foresleeves of the same, set with rich stones, with a rich bowdrick of gold, pearl, and stones about her neck, and a rich billiment of stones and great pearl on her hood, her palfrey that she rode on richly trapped with gold embroidered to the horse’s feet.”

Mary was then welcomed by the Lord Mayor of London, who presented her “with the scepter pertaining to the office”. After thanking the Lord Mayor and the aldermen for their “gentleness”, Mary handed the sceptre back to him and entered the city followed by Sir Anthony Browne, Elizabeth, the Duchess of Norfolk, the Marquis of Exeter and various ladies. In front of the Queen, processed the Lord Mayor with the sceptre and the Earl of Arundel bearing the sword.

The royal party passed St Botolph’s Church, where Mary was greeted by the children of Christ’s Hospital, through Aldgate, which was decorated with arras and streamers, past Leadenhall, down Gracechurch Street, up Fenchurch Street, down Mark Lane and to the Tower of London. There Mary was met by Sir John Gage, the Constable of the Tower, and Thomas Bruges, who welcomed her to the Tower. After entering the Tower, Mary encountered the Duke of Norfolk, Bishop Gardiner and Edward Courtenay, all prisoners at the Tower, who knelt and asked for her to pardon them. She saluted them “bidding them rise up.”

Wriothesley goes on to describe the city of London as it celebrated the accession of its new Catholic Queen, the daughter of their beloved Bluff King Hal:
“All the streets in London, from Aldgate up to Leadenhall, and so the Tower, were richly hanged with clothes of arras and silk, the streets gravelled all the way, and the citizens standing at rails with their streamers and banners of every Company or occupation standing at their rails, every Company in their best liveries with their hoods. Also there were 4 great stages between Aldgate and the Tower where clarks and musicians stood playing and singing goodly ballads which rejoiced the Queene’s highness greatly. Also there was such a terrible and great shot of guns shot within the Tower and all about the Tower wharf that the like hath not bee heard, for they never ceased shooting from the time her highness entered in at Aldgate til she came to Mark Lane end, which was like great thunder, so that it had been like to an earthquake. And all the streets by the way as her highness rode, standing so full of people shouting and crying “Jesus save her Grace!”, with weeping tears for joy, that the like was never seen before.”

It is obvious that the people were happy to see their new queen, and nobody seems to have given a thought to the fate of Lady Jane Grey, the young woman who was queen from the 6th July to the 19th July after being named Edward VI’s heir in his “Devise for the Succession”. She was imprisoned in the Tower and would finally be executed for high treason in February 1554.