The Tower of London and its “real” ghosts

Curiosities, English - November 24, 2022
Image 1. The Tower of London and its “real” ghosts

A tourist fortress with hundreds of ghostly apparitions

Located on the banks of the River Thames next to the famous bridge of the same name, and one of the main tourist attractions of the city, the Tower of London rises imposingly harboring a bloody and dark past, which not in vain, makes it one of the places where more ghost apparitions have been seen, some of them of royalty. Now we will see: The Tower of London and its “royal” ghosts.

Built in the eleventh century by William I The Conqueror, the history of this place is very long, since 1066 it was a fearsome prison where illustrious characters were imprisoned, then it was a castle, then a weapons depot, mint, zoo where royal animals were kept and finally, thanks to its impregnable walls, the place where the famous British Crown Jewels are kept.

But at the time when the Tower was a prison, since 1100, the walls witnessed the blood shed by thousands of victims who were executed there and began to forge the dark black legend of this place.

The paranormal activity of this place is a record, since in 1241 there was already talk of a ghost that swarmed within these walls, that of Chancellor Thomas Becket, who was governor of the Tower and was killed during a mass by order of King Henry II in 1170. The tower was undergoing restoration work that was delayed for years due to accidents that ended the lives of some workers, some of whom witnessed Becket’s ghost, and for a long time no one wanted to work on these works.

From that point on, the place became a fearful place, and the fact that thousands of people were executed there as a state prison did not help much; in fact, hundreds of people spoke of witnessing apparitions, and even authentic processions of the dead, many of them without heads.

For centuries the activity of the tower declined, until in May 1471 King Henry VI, was stabbed by order of Edward IV, while praying in his private chapel in Wakefield Tower, this fact stoked the fear and aversion of the people to this building, and the apparitions returned. It was said that it was frequent to see in the same chapel where he was murdered, the late king praying, in fact this is one of the most seen apparitions to this day, as many tourists claim to have seen him in that place.

When Edward IV was assassinated, his vacant throne went to Richard III, Duke of Gloucester. This being king and so that his crown was not threatened, in 1483 declared that the other two sons of the deceased, the children Edward V and his brother the Duke of York, were illegitimate and were locked in the Tower of London. They were never seen again. It is said that they were executed in the bloody tower, and witnesses claimed to have seen them wandering and holding hands dressed in white, until in 1674, their bones were found and buried in a religious ceremony. From that moment on they were no longer seen, although stories continued to be written about them and their apparitions.

These first murders of royalty were the beginning of a long and bloody list that would only add to the black legend of the place. Some of the most famous royal members executed in the Tower of London accused of treason were: William Hastings, Baron of Hasting (1483), Thomas More (1535), Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort (1536), Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (1541), Joan Boleyn, Viscountess of Rochford (1542), Catherine Howard, Queen Consort (1542), Jane Grey, Queen (1554) and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (1601).

Precisely Anna Boleyn is the most famous of this list, since it is the spirit that appears more and more frequently in the Tower.

Anna Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, was accused of adultery by her husband and beheaded by an executioner brought on purpose from France, on May 19, 1536, just 1000 days after marrying the king.  She was the first English queen to be executed in public in the bloody tower. Having no coffin for herself, she was placed in an old coffin too small, and furtively buried under St. Peter’s Chapel, where she was confined.

Unusual phenomena

Her spirit has been seen on numerous occasions wandering around the tower, especially on the day of the anniversaries of her execution, sometimes appearing alone and sometimes in front of a procession of spectres.

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, executed in 1541 at the age of seventy, by order of King Henry VII. On the day of her execution she fled pursued by her executioner. She was caught in the green tower and her executioner tried unsuccessfully to decapitate her with three axes that kept her alive and made her die with atrocious sufferings. It is said that her spirit appears every year, on the day of the anniversary of her death, in the green tower.

Lady Jane Grey was betrothed to King Edward VI, but when he died prematurely, Grey married Guildford Dudley, coming to reign for two weeks. But they were soon captured, and at the age of 15, Lady Jane Grey was beheaded as was Dudley, who was executed days later. The ghosts of both have often been seen wandering the corridors, he in a window near Beauchamp Tower and she in the Salz Tower.

Another illustrious ghost that wanders through such a sinister place is that of the explorer Walter Raleigh, imprisoned by James 1 accused of plotting. He was in prison from 1603 to 1616, was released for a period of two years, then imprisoned again and beheaded, appearing in another of the towers of the fortress.

But among so many human ghosts, there is even that of a bear, which in 1816 appeared before a soldier who tried to defend himself with his bayonet without being able to pierce it, the soldier died shortly after.

And this is the dark history of ghosts of this well-known place, that as a curiosity, no guide of the tower mentions these apparitions because according to tradition if they do it would be to attract bad luck.