Carrying on from my earlier post, the Bloody Tower is perhaps the most widely known building within the Tower’s walls. This particular tower, built by Richard III between 1238 and 1272, used to go by the slightly less terrifying name of ‘The Garden Tower’, but acquired its grizzly new title when it started to become a prime spot for dark doings and general nastiness.
The most famous victims of the Bloody Tower are considered to be the two princes, Edward V and his little brother, Richard, the Duke of York. No one really knows what happened to the two princes during their imprisonment at the tower, but when they disappeared without a trace, fingers were waggled in the direction of their protector, Richard III, who had seized the crown shortly before Edward’s coronation which had been arranged for 22nd June 1483.
In 1674, bones which were assumed to belong the two princes turned up beneath stairs leading to the chapel during works at the White Tower. These bones were later identified in 1933 as a mixture of human and animal bones but unfortunately the means to date the bones were unavailable back then, so we are still somewhat in the dark over their origins. However, this ambiguity has not stopped the rumours of the princes’ ghosts from haunting the tower.
There is one story, dating from the late 15th Century, that tells of a guard who saw the ghosts of the children drift hand in hand down the stairs of the Bloody Tower, wearing the white nightshirts they supposedly died in. The two wraiths apparently then faded away into the shadows once more. A more recent event happened in 1990 when two Coldstream Guards reported hearing two children giggling outside the Bloody Tower and then the sound of something bouncing; perhaps the two princes have found some respite in a game of ‘kick about’ in the afterlife. There have apparently also been sightings of the two children cowering together in various rooms of the tower.
For me, one of the most intriguing sightings reported was one by a Captain of the Guard (date unknown) who said that one evening he had seen a strange light emanating from the Tower’s chapel, the Chapel of St Peter Ad Vincula. As the chapel was securely locked for the night, he climbed a ladder to peer through the window to see what was going on. What he saw must have scared the life out of him. As he peered through the glass he saw a procession of people in a very old style of dress with a strikingly elegant woman in the lead. The Captain of the Guard said that he had recognised the woman at the head of the procession as being Anne Boleyn from the portraits he had seen of her. After Anne’s execution, her decapitated corpse was placed in an arrow chest and buried within the chapel in an unmarked grave. The grave was rediscovered during renovations that were carried out during the reign of Queen Victoria. The grave has now been marked for everyone to see.
Poor old Anne – she was a lot more graceful and forgiving on the scaffold than many would have been. Her goodbye speech was full of praise for King Henry VIII, which is a curious thing considering he was the one who condemned her to death so he could get his hands on another woman.
©Nicola Kirk and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2010