Sunday, 4 December 2011


The Tower of London

 The history of the Tower of London

One of the oldest and most persistently haunted locations in London has to be the Tower of London complex, nestling on the banks of the River Thames.
The Tower has almost a  1000 year history, and was used at various times to imprison and kill those that displeased royalty or state.

 The site was originally built by William the Conqueror in around 1080, as a massive stone tower fortress to help maintain his control of his new English territories.

During this time, the main structure, the White Tower, was completed in 1100 AD.
This tower`s original purpose was accomodation and defence for royalty, however from the 14th to the 19th century, it was used as a military storehouse.

Famous prisoners of note held there were:
Ranulf Flambard, the Bishop of Durham, was imprisoned here in 1100 by Henry I.
Other prisoners include John the Good, a French king imprisoned in 1360, and Charles, Duke of Orleans who was captured at the Battle of Agincourt and imprisoned in 1415.

As a powerbase in peacetime and refuge in times of crisis, the Tower’s fortifications were updated and expanded by later medieval kings.

At the age of only 9, John’s son Henry III (1216-72) inherited a kingdom in crisis.
The boy king’s regents began a major extension of the royal accommodation at the Tower, including the building of two new towers on the waterfront: the Wakefield as the king’s lodgings and the Lanthorn, probably intended as the queen’s.

When rebellious barons caused Henry to seek refuge at the Tower in 1238, the nervous King soon noticed the weakness of the castle’s defences.

In 1238 he embarked on the building of a massive curtain wall on the north, east and western sides, reinforced by nine new towers and surrounded by a moat flooded by the Flemish engineer John Le Fossur (the ditch-digger).

King Edward I (1272-1307) was a more confident and aggressive leader who managed his country’s rebels, but he was determined to complete the defensive works his father had begun at the Tower.

 Between 1275 and 1285 he spent over £21,000 on transforming the Tower into England’s largest and strongest concentric castle (with one ring of defences inside another).

He filled in the moat and created another curtain wall enclosing the existing wall built by his father, and also created a new moat. In spite of all this work and building comfortable royal lodgings, he seldom stayed at the Tower.

He constructed St Thomas`s tower completed in 1279, and was famous for building the water gate entrance more famously known as, `Traitor`s Gate`. Many who passed through here never saw the outside daylight again.

Increasingly the tower site grew to importance as a prison and place of execution. Although there were periods of royal residential use, the Tower was more famously known as a place of  state persecution.

The many who were imprisoned within it`s cold stone walls are said to have returned to haunt the site, and here are but a few of the ghostly legends there.

A photographer claims two ghosts are in the doorway

Ghostly Victims of the Tower  (Source: Guide-to-castles-of-Europe)

Thomas A. Becket is "the first reported sighting of a ghost at the Tower of London."

During the construction on the Inner Curtain Wall, Thomas appeared apparently unhappy about the construction, and it is said he reduced the wall to rubble with a strike of his cross. Henry III’s grandfather was responsible for the death of Thomas Becket, so Henry III wasted no time building a chapel in the Tower of London, naming it for the archbishop.

This must have pleased Thomas’ ghost because there were no further interruptions during the construction of the wall.

The Bloody Tower was the scene of the infamous disappearance of the two princes; Edward V (12) and Richard Duke of York (10), who are thought to have been murdered in 1483 on the probable command of the Duke of Gloucestershire, who was to be crowned Richard the III.

According to one story, guards in the late 15th century, who were passing the Bloody Tower, spotted the shadows of two small figures gliding down the stairs still wearing the white night shirts they had on the night they disappeared.

They stood silently, hand in hand, before fading back into the stones of the Bloody Tower.

These figures were identified as the ghosts of the two princes. In 1674 workmen found a chest that contained the skeletons of two young children, they were thought to be the remains of the princess, and were given a royal burial not long afterwards.

The story of the little princes is still to this day a heartbreaking story. They are "among the most poignant ghosts" in the Tower of London.

The most persistent ghost in The Tower of London is the ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn.

The King, Henry VIII, after learning the baby she carried for nine months was a boy and still born, accused by her of infidelity.

She was taken to TOWER GREEN and was beheaded on May 19, 1536.

Queen Anne appears near the Queen’s House, close to the site where her execution was carried out. She can be seen leading a ghostly procession of Lords and Ladies down the aisle of the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula.

She floats down the aisle to her final resting place. Queen Anne is buried under the Chapel’s altar. Her headless body has also been seen walking the corridors of the Tower.

Sir Walter Raleigh lived quite comfortable compared to others who were imprisoned within the walls of the Bloody Tower.

His "rooms" are still furnished as they were in the 16th century, and can be seen when visiting the Tower today.

He was executed by James I, and has been seen looking exactly as he does in his portrait hanging in the Bloody Tower.

The most grisly execution and thus haunting is that of the 70 year old Countess of Salisbury, the last of the Plantagenets. King Henry VIII had her executed for political reasons. The feisty Countess refused to put her head on the block like a common traitor. When her executioner came after her she ran, but was pursued by him, with his axe in hand hacking at her until he had hewn the Countess to death.

Her ghost has been seen reliving this truly gruesome act. Also the shadow of a great axe has been seen falling across the scene of her murder.

At one time the Tower of London was home to the Royal Menagerie. Lions, leopards, bears, birds, monkeys and an elephant, that was a gift from the King of France, were kept on exhibit. On the stroke of midnight in January of 1815 a sentry saw a bear from this menagerie emerge from a doorway. He lunged at it with his bayonet, it passed right through the apparition. The Sentry was later found unconscious, it is said he died of fright within two months of this encounter.

Something unseen and very frightening is in the Salt Tower. This is one of the most haunted areas of the Tower of London complex. This is a very old section, dogs will not enter this ancient building, and ever since one of the Yeoman Warders was nearly throttled by a force unseen, they will not go in the area after nightfall.

In 1864, a soldier whose post was to guard the Queen’s House at the Tower of London, saw a apparition so real, that after ignoring the soldiers three challenges, he charged with all his might at the intruder with his bayonet, only to go straight through the figure.
Is this the `White Lady` Ghost

He was found unconscious at his post and was court-martialled for neglecting his duty. Luckily there were two witnesses who corroborated his story. The soldier was eventually acquitted.

Lady Jane Grey is another tragic story of a young life cut short at the Tower, due to the actions of others the most despicable of who was her own father.
She was the granddaughter of Mary (Henry VIII younger sister) and Louis XII of France. The Duke of Northumberland would lose everything if Henry VIII’s son was to die and Mary, who was Catholic, would become queen.

He and her father arranged her marriage to his son and persuaded her cousin Edward VI to name her his successor in case of his death instead of his two half-sisters. When Edward VI died she was crowned Queen of England, but the supporters of Mary overthrew her.

Her own father got scared and in hopes to save his own skin, left the Tower of London and went to Tower Hill to proclaim Mary I, as the Queen of England, Lady Jane never left the tower; she and her husband were immediately imprisoned and sentenced to death. Queen Mary carried out the execution of Lady Jane’s father-in-law but set both Jane and her husband free.

Her father was involved in a rebellion against Mary I, Lady Jane and her husband were again placed in the tower. Lady Jane watched as her husband was taken to Tower Hill where he was beheaded. She saw his body being carried back to the chapel, after which she was taken to Tower Green where she was beheaded. She was only 17 years old.

Lady Jane Grey’s ghost was last seen by two Guardsmen on February 12, 1957, the 403rd anniversary of her execution. She was described as a "white shape forming itself on the battlements". Her husband, Guildford Dudley, has been seen in Beauchamp Tower weeping.

Catherine Howard escaped from her room in the Tower of London. "She ran down the hallway screaming for help and mercy. She was caught and returned to her room." The next day she was beheaded. Her ghost has been seen sill running down the hallway screaming for help.

Other strange sightings at the Tower of London have been "Phantom funeral carriages" and “A lovely veiled lady that, upon closer look proves to have a black void where her face should be."

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