Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Tower of London - England

In 1078 in London, England, William the Conqueror began construction of a castle eventually destined to be known as The White Tower around which over time, more towers and structures where added to make up what would become the massive Tower of London.  The original tower today serves as the keep of the enormous structure.  For a time, the castle housed the royal family and the crown jewels, however today it is mostly inhabited by the tower guards or beefeaters and due to it's long bloody and torrid history...  ghosts.

The Tower of London, England
The Tower of London, England in 1802
The most visible part of The Tower of London, The White Tower or central castle keep, can be seen in the center of a more complex system of walls and towers

St. Thomas' Tower

    In 1241 it is thought that the first known haunting of The Tower of London occurred in St. Thomas' Tower.  Supposedly a priest witnessed the ghost of martyred Saint Thomas Becket appearing and reportedly causing some damage to the structure. Centuries later in the early 1800s, a soldier witnessed the apparition of a headless woman in a white dress covered with blood roaming the castle grounds.  It is thought that she is the spirit of a wife who was beheaded by her husband who was one of the tower guards in the late 1780s.  Her head however, was never found!  Many believe she returns, searching the castle grounds for her head.

St. Thomas' Tower part of The Tower of London, England

Wakefield Tower

    King Henry the VI, apparently having a lack luster reign, in 1471 was found in Wakefield Tower where he was imprisoned, brutally stabbed to death.  Later it was thought that this heinous crime was carried out by Richard III.  Henry is said to revisit this tower on midnight on the anniversary of his death each year.

Wakefield Tower part of The Tower of London, England

The Tower Green

    The courtyard area of The Tower of London is known as Tower Green.  This is the place where most of the nobles and aristocrats were executed on the block by beheading vs being put to the stake and burned to death as were the lesser heretics and such. 

One of the most famous people to be executed here was Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII who seemed passionate about executing his wives.  It seems that in 1536, Queen Anne found herself accused of adultery and incest and was beheaded on the Tower Green.  To this day, her headless body has be seen strolling through the Tower Green courtyard and in the tower where she was imprisoned. 

The Tower Green and Queen's House part of The Tower of London, England

One of the more gruesome tales of Tower Green is that of Margaret Pole
the Countess of Salisbury.  After her son managed to insult King Henry VIII and then escape to be protected by friends, Henry imprisoned his mother Margaret Pole, and in 1541 sent her to the executioner's block.  However, being innocent of wrong doing, she refused to bow down to have her head removed.  Infuriated, the executioner began swinging the axe at her and chased her around the Tower Green hacking her to death.

A year after the gruesome death of the countess of Salisbury, another wife of Henry VIII, Queen Catherine Howard, was discovered to be committing adultery and was executed on the green  in 1542.  Her ghost is also said to have been spotted aimlessly wandering around The Tower Green.

Another misfortunate royal victim was Lady Jane Grey.  In 1552, after nine days of being Queen she was overthrown by supporters of a rival and imprisoned along with her husband. Two years later, both she and her husband were put to the axe on the Tower Green.  Lady Jane's apparition which appears as a shimmering translucent figure has been seen lingering around the area where she was executed as well as the towers.

Beheaded victims are not the only spectral entity that has been seen on The Tower Green.  Some witnesses have claimed to see a procession of phantom soldiers marching through the green on their eternal quest to guard the castle and London itself.

The Salt Tower

In the 16th century, the Salt Tower was used to imprison Jesuit priests who underwent excruciating torture deep within the tower's dungeons.  Scratchings on the walls of the dungeon chambers still exist to this day to prove that they were there and what they went through.  Today icy cold spots have been known to manifest themselves in these dungeons and hushed whispers and moans can be heard from horrors of the past.

The Salt Tower part of The Tower of London, England

Bloody Tower

In 1483 heirs to the thrown which was then held by their uncle, Richard III, were Prince Richard and Prince Edward.  Once King Richard took the throne, he had them imprisoned in The Bloody Tower.  It seemed he felt threatened that they would take over his reign. They could be seen running and playing in the tower windows and parapets.  However, at some point, they disappeared completely.  It was assumed that Richard III had murdered them and centuries later, this was confirmed when their remains were discovered on the castle grounds after some work had begun.  Some say that the two little princes can be seen to this day running around The Bloody Tower wearing their white nightgowns, just as they would have been doing centuries ago.  However, when the Ghosts of Prince Richard and Prince Edward are approached, they seem to fade into the stone as if they were a part of The Tower itself.

Bloody Tower (right) part of The Tower of London, England

The Tower of London is open for tours daily and you will be guided by the legendary Yeomen Warders or Beefeaters and learn about more ghosts and hauntings in The Tower.  Hear of the legend of the Tower Ravens which it is said that if they ever leave, London will fall!

Two legends that are part of The Tower of London in England, the ravens and the Beefeater guards
The Tower of London at night

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