“These girls who were boarded out were not acquiring an academic, or even a domestic education, but learning to attend upon a mistress, to embroider, play the lute or virginals, sing and dance. A few might receive their education at a nunnery: Jane Shore, for instance, was a product, if not an advertisement, for the de la Pré nunnery near Leicester.”
The above quote comes from a photocopied ‘talk with slides’ that I have kept in my 1970s research. I do not know, now, who gave the talk, except that I have a recollection of it being a woman. It concerned women in the 15th centuries.
Now, I have heard many things of Jane Shore, and know she is believed to have received a good education, but not that she was the product of de la Pré nunnery, which is actually in Northamptonshire, not Leicestershire. The Battle of Northampton, 1460, was fought in the nunnery’s grounds, so it is tempting (to me) to wonder if it was around this time that Edward IV (then Earl of March) first saw Jane? Probably not (that’s the fiction writer in me!) but it seems likely they were both in the same corner of England at the same time.
The mention of de la Pré astonished me, because I thought Jane worked in her father’s shop and thus caught the eye of noble suitors, including William, Lord Hastings. So, did her father send her to the nunnery, to learn how to serve a mistress? Was that what is meant by her having a good education?
She has been known to us by various names, but I have stuck to Jane Shore, and the picture below is of her tomb in Hinxworth Church, Hertfordshire. It is taken from the excellent https://www.flickr.com/photos/52219527@N00/4924193708 by jmc4 – Church Explorer, and if you visit the site, you will find more information about her, and more great photographs.
Jane was eighty-two when she died, so the famous penance Richard III imposed upon her didn’t dent her for long! Nor do I think she died in poverty – her tomb certainly does not indicate such a thing. Her second and last husband, Thomas Lynom, had been the King’s (Richard’s) Solicitor General, and after Bosworth hung on under Henry VII “as a mid-level bureaucrat in the new reign, becoming a gentleman who sat on the commissions in the Welsh Marches and clerk controller to Arthur, Prince of Wales at Ludlow”. So he was not a poor man!