Haunted History: The Tower of London
Welcome to the most haunted building in the UK, and has actually been named as one of the most, if not THE most, haunted building in the world.
Known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, construction on the Tower began around 1066-1078 by William the Conquerer, and was gradually built up for the next four centuries.
When many think of the Tower of London, what comes to mind is hellish torture techniques and hundreds of grisly murders that occurred within it’s walls. Contrary to popular belief that was brought upon by 16th century propagandists and writers, only seven people were actually executed here. However, the reason for this castle’s reputation as the most haunted building in existence likely does not have to do with the executions that took place here, but the level of emotional distress of those who were imprisoned here, or those who were involved in the battles that took place at this site. The Tower of London was, surprisingly, the setting of more drama than death; drama that ranged from forbidden marriages to royal family scandals of such magnitude that even centuries later, people still speak of them.
The most well-known ghost here is that of Queen Anne Boleyn, who was decapitated at the tower in 1536. Visitors to the tower have reported seeing her numerous times, mostly around where she was executed.
Another frequently sighted is that of Arbella Stewart, who married William Seymore, nephew of Lady Jane Grey. The marriage was not blessed by the king, and was therefore forbidden. The couple was arrested and forcibly separated. Arbella was put under house arrest while William was sent to the tower for imprisonment. Arbella plotted for his release and they planned to escape to France. When William was freed, he did not get the message that Arbella would meet him in France, so he didn’t know where she had gone. Arbella was recognized in France and was forcibly sent back to England, this time to the tower, where she learned of William’s freedom but couldn’t find him. She died of natural causes in the Queen’s House in 1636, but it’s said that she still wanders the halls of the tower, looking for her beloved William.
The saddest of all the tales involving the tower is of two young princes, Edward V and his brother Richard. While no one knows what happened, an awful scandal involving their uncle the Duke of Gloucester may have resulted in their uncle ordering his nephews to be murdered. It is said that he convinced Parliament that the two boys were conceived illegitimately, and the boys were sent to the tower. Whilst there, the princes went missing, having last been seen playing together at the grounds, and rumors flew over what may have happened to them. Speculation began after the discovery of two young boys’ skeletons under the staircase in the White Tower. After the White Tower underwent some renovations, people reported seeing the apparitions of two little boys playing near the staircase before fading away. Their voices and giggling have been heard by several people, including tower guards, throughout the years.
Today, the Tower is one of the most familiar landmarks in the world, and is cared for by the Historic Royal Palace and protected as a World Heritage Site. You can even buy tickets to tour through it, and maybe catch a glimpse of a young prince from the past running by, or maybe even stumble upon Anne Boleyn herself.