Tower of London

The Tower of London is the symbol of English sovereignty as well as being the repository of the Crown Jewels.  A White Tower was built on the site by William the Conqueror in 1078 AD upon the old Roman walls and it was completed in 1097 AD.  Since that time, many Kings and Queens have added towers to the structure resulting in the impregnable stronghold which we see today.  There have been torture chambers in the crypt of the White Tower and many executions have taken place out on Tower Green and it is the latter fact which probably explains the numerous ghosts which have apparently been sighted within the walls of this magnificent edifice.

Probably the earliest recorded ghost at the Tower would be that of the martyred Saint Thomas Becket whose ghost first appeared during the 13th century at the time when the Traitor's Gate was being built.  This was witnessed by a priest.

In 1804 AD, a soldier in the Tower named Corporal Jones saw a woman in a white dress with a red pattern on it coming towards him but as she approached, he realised that what he thought was a red pattern was in fact blood and that the woman was headless! 

Later enquiries brought to light that a guardsmen in 1784 AD had murdered his wife and cut off her head.  Apparently the head was never recovered so this perhaps explains the reappearance of the poor lady's ghost still searching for her head.

During the 19th century there were at least two sightings of a ghostly bear which on both occasions, guards tried to bayonet to no avail.

The keeper of the crown jewels, Edmund Lenthal Swifte is also said to have been dining with his family in the Martin Tower where one of the bear encounters had been seen when his wife screamed and he saw a strange cylinder shaped apparition come into view.  It appeared to be filled with a blue bubbling liquid and it was only after Swifte threw a chair at the apparition that it disappeared.

In the aptly named Bloody Tower, there have been many hauntings reported over the centuries which is hardly surprising due to its gruesome reputation.  It is in this Tower that the two small sons of King Edward IV known as the little princes are said to have been murdered in 1483 AD on the orders of their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester although there is no definite proof that this actually happened.  However it is reported that in the late 15th century, guards in the Tower saw two small shadowy figures gliding down towards them and of course they were presumed to be the ghosts of the two royal princes.

Certainly the most famous ghost said to haunt the Tower of London would have to be that of Anne Boleyn.  She was certainly a little unusual having six fingers on one hand and frequently being suspected of practising witchcraft.  Her real undoing however was in her finding the charms of other men more alluring than those of her husband Henry VIII.  Anne was executed on Tower Green in 1536 AD and her headless corpse was buried under the floor of the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.  It's hardly surprising that she is said to haunt both the Chapel and the Green and also make appearances in the corridor of the White Tower and at the King's House which is a residence of the Governor of the Tower.  It is in the King's house where she was imprisoned before her execution where she is said to walk with her head tucked under her arm on May 19th - the anniversary of her death.  In fact the sightings of Anne Boleyn are too numerous to all be listed here but it is generally thought that her appearances are a sort of portent of doom on the night before some other poor soul is due to meet their end.

Another wife of Henry VIII, Catherine Howard was convicted by Henry of adultery and sentenced to die at the hands of the axemen.  It is said that when the time came for her execution, she ran from the executioner who pursued her then took hold of her and hacked off her head.  Occasionally, her cries are heard outside the room where she was kept prior to her execution.

These are only a few of the hauntings and ghostly appearances out of the many attributed to this great mediaeval fortress.  Others include squads of ghostly soldiers marching and ghostly funeral carriages as well as other ghostly historical celebrities such as in 1985 when Sir Walter Raleigh was apparently seen walking around one of the Towers.

One thing is for sure and that is that a place such as the Tower of London with such a turbulent, tragic and macabre history is sure to continue to provide ghostly tales and spectral sightings for a long time to come!