The 12 Ghosts in the Tower of London
The History of the Tower of London
The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty’s Royal Palace, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was seen as a symbol of oppression. While the Tower of London is magnificent in its aesthetic, it has a dark history and has witnessed some of the most horrific scenes. Three English Queens were executed at the Tower of London, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey; if that was not enough, the Duke of Gloucester locked up and murdered two young princes in the Tower of London.
From 1100 - 1952, the Tower of London was used as a prison. Upon reflection, the Tower of London shares a similar history to that of the Tolbooth Museum in Scotland. What we know about ghosts/hauntings is that they are usually in places where a lot of trauma has been experienced—for the Tower of London to house 13 spirits, one can only imagine what has taken place within those walls.
The 21 towers in The Tower of London
1. The White Tower
2. The Bloody Tower
3. Beauchamp Tower
4. Bell Tower
5. Bowyer Tower
6. Brick Tower
7. Broad Arrow Tower
8. Byward Tower
9. Constable Tower
10. Cradle Tower
11. Develin Tower
12. Deveraux Tower
13. Flint Tower
14. Lanthorn Tower
15. Martin Tower
16. Middle Tower
17. St Thomas’s Tower
18. Salt Tower
19. Wakefield Tower
20. Wardrobe Tower
21. Well Tower
The 12 Ghosts in the Tower of London
1. Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes was part of a resistance group that plotted to destroy the House of Lords in 1605. Unfortunately for the resistance group, their plan was uncovered before they could carry it out. Guy Fawkes was taken to the Tower of London and painfully tortured before being executed. To this day, visitors have reported hearing his eerie screams as his spirit relives the torture he endured.
2. Anne Boleyn’s Procession
Anne Boleyn was Henry VIII's second wife; however, just three years after they were married, in 1536, Anne Boleyn was accused of adultery and plotting to kill the king. Anne was arrested and taken to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury of her peer, including a man she was once engaged to (Henry Percy) and her uncle (Thomas Howard). Anne was found guilty and executed on Tower Green—hundreds of years later, a soldier claimed to see a light from within the chapel. The soldier later saw a procession of knights and women being led by the headless ghost of Anne Boleyn.
3. Henry VI
Henry VI was often referred to as a weak king who was mentally unstable. Many thought he was too easily influenced by his court favourites and his controlling wife. After spending some time imprisoned in the Wakefield Tower, Henry VI was murdered; some say that Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was the culprit, and others say Edward IV, King of England, was responsible for his death. The ghost of Henry VI is said to haunt the Wakefield Tower, usually only appearing at midnight.
4. Ghost Animals
Henry III had quite a collection of animals ranging from tigers, jackals, elephants, and bears. Around the 16th century, a sport known as bearbaiting became quite popular, a horrific practice. The sport caused the suffering of many animals that have been seen/heard roaming the grounds. The most common ghost animal sighting is that of a bear in which a guard claimed charged into him—the guard in question was knocked unconscious and ended up passing away two days later.
5. Sir Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was many things, an English statesman, soldier, writer, and explorer, and he was loved/respected by Queen Elizabeth I. Sir Walter Raleigh was held at the Tower of London three times. In 1592, he was locked up for five weeks after marrying one of the queen’s ladies-in-waiting without her permission. Between 1603-1616, Sir Walter Raleigh spent over 13 years in the Bloody Tower for allegedly conspiring against Queen Elizabeth’s successor; his final imprisonment occurred in 1618 after he was accused of treason.
In 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded outside the Palace of Westminster—his head was later embalmed and presented to his wife. Right before his death, Sir Walter Raleigh’s executioner is said to have hesitated; upon seeing his executioner hesitate, Sir Walter Raleigh uttered, ‘What dost thou fear? Strike, man, strike!’ It is said that the ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh can be seen wandering around the tower and a battlement known as Raleigh’s Walk.
6. The Faceless Woman
The Faceless Woman was first seen in 1957; not much is known about her, but she is thought to be a young woman who met her untimely end at the Tower of London.
7. Margaret Pole
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was very loyal to Henry VIII, but this loyalty meant nothing in her final days. In 1539, Margaret Pole was imprisoned at the Tower of London for two years; Margaret did not know why she was arrested but continued to declare her innocence until her final breath.
Margaret Pole was executed on Tower Green in 1541; while the details of Margaret's death vary, it is agreed that her beheading was botched, requiring several strokes of an axe to end her life. The screams of Margaret Pole are said to echo through the walls of the Tower of London; one can only imagine how horrifying they must be. While Margaret Pole died a traitor under the law, many see her death as unjust and the result of a paranoid king who was not in his right mind.
8. The White Lady
The Identity of the White Lady is unknown, but this whitish figure is said to appear around Tower Green. When her apparition appears, it is accompanied by the scent of cheap perfume; the scent is so strong that it has made visitors to the Tower of London sick to their stomachs.
9. Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey, the ‘Nine Days Queen’, had the shortest reign as an English Queen, lasting only 9 days. In the will of Edward VI, Jane (and her male heirs) were nominated as successors to the throne—Edward VI made this decision because Mary Tudor, his half-sister, was Catholic. As Jane was a protestant, Edward VI thought she would be better suited to support the reformed Church of England. After Edward VI's death, Jane became queen, but in the days that followed, support for Mary snowballed. Just 9 days after being named queen, Jane was forcefully removed from the throne.
After Lady Jane Grey’s father-in-law was accused of treason and executed, Jane was locked up in the Tower of London. Initially, Mary had no plans to take her life, but when her father, Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, plotted against the queen, Lady Jane Grey was viewed as a threat to the crown. In 1554, Lady Jane Grey and her husband were executed at Tower Green on the orders of Mary, also known as Bloody Mary. Lady Jane Grey’s ghost is said to wander around the Tower of London—when visitors see her, they often claim that she looks sad/lonely.
10. The Monk’s Footsteps
Not much is known about this mysterious monk, but if you listen closely, you can hear their sandals as they traverse the grounds.
11. Lady Arbella Stuart
Lady Arbella Stuart was the cousin of Elizabeth I, an English noblewoman who was imprisoned by James I for marrying William Seymour without Royal consent. Arbella and her husband tried to flee from England, but they were captured before they could escape. King James, I saw the union of Arbella and William as a threat to his reign, so he had her locked away in the Tower of London. Arbella died in 1615, and is thought to have been starved, refused to eat, or outright murdered. The spirit of Arbella is said to walk the grounds of the Queen’s House; however, she is not regarded as harmful or threatening.
12. The Lost Princes
When King Edward IV passed away in 1483, his youngest son, at the age of 12, became King Edward V. King Edward V was under the protection of his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, who dreamed of becoming king. In preparation for King Edward’s coronation, The Duke of Gloucester kept King Edward V and his younger brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, in the Tower of London. Unfortunately, before King Edward could be officially crowned, he and his brother were deemed illegitimate.
Ultimately, the Duke of Gloucester became King Richard III, and the two young boys were never seen again until their remains were found underneath a staircase in the Tower of London in 1674. The spirits of the two boys have been seen playing on the battlements, and some visitors have also heard them laughing/giggling.
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