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The Tower of London


Tower of London
The Tower of London, standing proud and majestic on the banks of the River Thames, and possibly the most famous fort in the world. Today it can boast to be one of the top tourist attractions in London.

It has in its thousand year history been used as a Royal Mint, Zoo, Garrison, Secure Store for the Crown Jewels, and has the distinction of being London’s oldest gaol and place of execution.

Built by William I and completed in 1097, the central keep better known as the White Tower from the 13th century when its walls were whitewashed. Both below ground and up above were built cells to hold the prisoners.

The first recorded prisoner to be held at the Tower of London was the bishop of Durham, Ranulf Flambard in 1101, as his wealth would allow he was permitted to keep his servants.

These strong walls with turrets were built to protect London from invaders, and also to hold within some of the most prestigious prisoners, from Kings and Queens to treasonous rebels.

Executions were sometime held within the Tower at Tower Green, although most executions were carried out at Tower Hill, just outside the walls and moat.

Notable prisoner included 600 Jews incarcerated by Edward I in 1278, accused of coin-clipping, of these some 260 were executed while most of the others were left to rot in putrid accommodation within the dungeons.

1296. John Baliol, King of Scotland.
1356. King John of France, caught in the battle of Poiters.
King Henry VI and George, the Duke of Clarence both killed while in prison at the Tower.
Anne Boleyn imprisoned and executed in 1536.
Princess Elizabeth whom became Elizabeth I imprisoned in 1554 by her half sister Mary.

The last execution carried out at the Tower was that f a German Spy Josef Jakobs in 1941. Unlike the early medieval executions where an axe was used, this time a firing squad made up of eight soldiers shot Jakobs while he was tied to a chair. The only one shot to have killed him had hit him in the head, although the target was pinned to his heart.

The list is endless with the last prisoner held here being William Joyce otherwise known as Lord ‘Haw-Haw in 1945.

Traitors Gate
Traitors Gate where convicts arrived by river after their trials from the courts in Westminster.

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