Prisoners: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave…
For many people, myself included, the Tower of London is London. What started off as a mott and bailey castle in 1066 has been added to over the centuries until it became the impressive landmark we see today. Various towers have been added over time, many of which have been used to house prisoners. The White Tower, in particular, is infamous for having once housed a torture chamber within its depths – a place to be avoided at all costs!
The Tower of London has a dark and grisly history with many a poor unfortunate meeting their end within its cold stone walls. Perhaps the most well-known victim of the Tower was Anne Boleyn, the ambitious wife of Henry VIII. When Henry grew bored of Anne and fancied a different bit of totty, he decided to get rid of her in the only way he knew how: a visit to the scaffold. Anne may have gone to her death with dignity and grace, but the same cannot be said for poor old Margaret Pole, the elderly Countess of Salisbury.
Off With Their Heads!
In 1541, Margaret fell foul of Henry VIII and was sentenced to death. Margaret, who was 68 years old at the time, wasn’t given a trial, just an appointment with the executioner. What they didn’t bank on was that Margaret wasn’t about to go without a fight and she led the executioner on a merry dance around the scaffold. This may sound like something out of a Benny Hill sketch but the gruesome truth of it is that it took many a blow from the executioner’s axe to dispatch the old woman, most of which missed her neck completely. The old countess may have been (eventually) silenced but her ghost is still reputedly seen on the anniversary of her death (27th May) desperately trying to escape from the executioner’s axe.
©Nicola Kirk and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2010