The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 33 The Tower and Tower Hill

Tower of London 3

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To the west of the site of the scaffold is the semicircular Beauchamp Tower, built by Edward III., but named after Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, imprisoned here in 1397. A winding stair ascends to a room on the first floor, the walls of which are covered with inscriptions and carvings by former prisoners, many of which were brought hither from other parts of the Tower. One of the most elaborate, to the right of the fireplace, is by John Dudley, eldest son of the Duke of Northumberland, who, with his father and four brothers, was imprisoned for conspiring in favour of Lady Jane Grey. In two places (near the third recess and near the window) appears the word 'Jane,' probably not inscribed by Lady Jane Grey. Adjoining this tower, on the south, is the Yeoman Gaoler's House, in which Lady Jane Grey was imprisoned; from its windows she beheld the headless body of her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, being brought back from Tower Hill, on the morning of her own execution. On the south side of Tower Green stands the unpretentious Tudor King's House (no admission), the residence of the Governor, incorporating the Bell Tower. It was in the council chamber of this house that Guy Fawkes and his accomplices were examined in 1605. Adjacent is the Bloody Tower (14th or 15th century), known as the Garden Tower until about 1600; the origin of its present name is uncertain. On entering it we observe the windlass by which the portcullis was worked. The room on the left was the prison of many noted men, including Sir Thomas Overbury, Archbishop. Cranmer, Raleigh, Archbishop Laud, and Judge Jeffreys, who died here of delirium tremens in 1689. The small room at the foot of the stairs is supposed to have been the first burial-place of the Little Princes. The winding staircase ascends to the room in which they are said to have been smothered by Sir Walter Tyrrell at the instigation of Richard III. From the passage outside this room we emerge on Raleigh's Walk, between the Bloody Tower and the King's House, where Sir Walter Raleigh was permitted to take the air and even to converse with people passing in the Outer Ward below. We now descend the steps, and between the modern Guard House and the Bloody Tower find the entrance to Wakefield Tower, which since 1856 has contained the Crown Jewels. The room in which the latter are shown had an oratory in the east window-recess, and tradition has it that Henry VI. was murdered while at his devotions there. The ceiling of the room is a modern copy of the original. The Wakefield Tower is the oldest of the smaller towers, dating from the reigns of William Rufus (in its lowest part), Stephen, and Henry III. It was at one time called Record Tower, as the public records were kept here from 1360, and at another time the Hall Tower, because it adjoined the great hall of the palace. Its present name is probably derived from the prisoners confined here after the battle of Wakefield (1460). It was again overcrowded after the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.