The Tower of London
The Tower of London is known as one of the most haunted places in Britain. This accolade is no small wonder, for, from the moment its first stone building, the White Tower was constructed at the behest of William the Conqueror in 1078; it has been in constant use. In its time The Tower has been a military stronghold, royal palace, zoo, treasury and a political prison. It has a range of ghosts to match each one of its functions.
The tower was a royal residence right from its inception- and still boasts the ghosts of some of its Royal Residents. Henry VI, who died in his chapel in the Wakefield Tower in 1471 is just one. Some claim he died of a broken heart when the Yorkist king Edward IV took his throne. It is more likely, however, that he was stabbed to death while at prayer. Every May 21st, the anniversary of his death, he is said to appear on the spot he died- and disappear at midnight.
The tower also had a zoo from the 1200s to house a range of exotic animals such as lions, kangaroos, ostriches, elephants and polar bears which were all presented as gifts to various monarchs. In 1835, the zoo closed and the animals moved to the new London Zoo in Regents Park. But one resident remains- in spirit at least. Visitors claim to have seen the ghost of a grizzly bear roaming the precincts of the former menagerie.
The tower is most famous as a prison for traitors and political prisoners- and the spot of many executions. Over the years, over 100 executions have occurred within the Tower precincts, including 93 beheadings and 11 deaths by firing squad. Many of those souls remained within the confines of the tower after death. Amongst them are Henry VIII’s wives Ann Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
Ann quietly haunts her grave in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula., while Catherine’s spirit can be heard screaming in the room she occupied before her execution. Nine days queen Lady Jane Grey is said to haunt the battlements, and the weeping spirit of her husband, Gilford Dudley is still found in his room.
Some of the hauntings, however, are strange and inexplicable. One evening in the nineteenth century, the crown Jewel keeper E L Swifte was having dinner with his family when his wife spotted a cylindrical object, somewhat like a test tube filled with bubbling blue fluid, moving towards her unaided. The cylinder lurched at her before vanishing into thin air.