Picture of the Week #215

Sign of with the names and dates of those executed within the Tower of London. Photo May 2003.

If I remember correctly, the current thinking is that the scaffold site was actually over by the Waterloo Barracks (where the Crown Jewels are) rather than this spot in front of the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. As you can see from the dates, yesterday was the anniversary of the execution of Jane Grey and today is the anniversary of the executions of Kathryn Howard and Jane Parker Boleyn.


  1. Actually, there was no one permanent scaffold site for the several executions held within the Tower. Rather, Victorian-era personnel interested in simplifying matters simply chose a single site and put it about that it was “the” site. An eye-witness described the site of the scaffold for the execution of Jane Grey as being “over against the White Tower”, a considerable distance to the southeast of “the site” and its modern memorial. Unfortunately, the demands of facilitating tourism have outweighed historical accuracy, and the modern Yeoman Warders are quite free in the telling of their tourist tales. With repetition, those tales have become “fact”, even though they are not supported by the documentary evidence.

  2. A visit to “The Tower” is quite a bit like watching “Elizabeth” with Kate Blanchett. Go for the entertainment value, and let all the historial inaccuracies just roll away into The Thames.

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