February 09, 2006


Today, it's my pleasure to entertain you with a few ghost stories. I have always been fascinated by ghosts and hauntings, and some of the most famous haunting stories can be quite entertaining. (IMHO, anyway)

Ahhh, the lovely Tower of London, home to many a ghoul.

Built by Willian the Conqueror between 1078 and 1098, The Tower of London has a long and bloody history. An "inescapable prison", over the past 1000 years, the Tower of London has seen more than its fair share of murders, executions, tortures and poisonings. It's little wonder, therefore, that a few of its victims should remain there after death. Many ghostly legends are associated with the Tower.

In 1483, two young princes were murdered in the Tower, and their ghosts were reported to have haunted the tower until the year 1674, when their bones were found and buried in a proper ceremony.

The most famous and most often reported ghost in the Tower Green is Anne Boleyn. She was beheaded by her husband, Henry VIII, in 1536 because she gave birth to a daughter instead of a son. She is now said to carry her head under her arm around the tower and she is surrounded by eerie light. Anne has also been seen in the Tower Chapel. One night, a guard captain and a sentry set off on their rounds, but when they reached the chapel they both noticed lights coming from inside. The captain sent for a ladder and climbed up to a window to look within. He found the interior lit with a blue-white light, and a ghostly procession of men and women in Tudor costume could be plainly seen walking down the central aisle. At the head of the procession was the spirit of Anne Boleyn. Suddenly the light faded and the chapel was left in complete darkness.

In 1816 a sentry was walking his beat in front of the Jewel House when he saw a dark shape moving on the steps of the building. He approached the figure just as the moon came out from behind some clouds, revealing a huge bear lunging at him. Panicked, he struck out at the bear with his bayonet but the blade simply passed through the bear, which then engulfed him. He was later found unconscious by another sentry and died shortly after.

In 1864, a soldier saw a ghost and again attempted to use his bayonet. The soldier fainted when he realized his antagonist was a ghost, and was later court-martialed for neglecting his duties. The charges against the soldier were eventually dropped when two witnesses came forward to support the soldier's ghost story.

A great many other ghosts of historical significance are said to haunt the Tower of London, including Henry VI, Thomas Becket, Lady Jane Grey, Guy Fawkes and Sir Walter Raleigh.

The execution of Lady Jane Grey

On the 12th February 1957 a guardsman came face to face with one of the ghostly residents at the foot of the Salt Tower. It was 3:00 am when something struck the roof of the sentry-box in which he was sheltering from the rain. Stepping out, he looked up to see what it was, and saw a shapeless white ghost on the top of the tower. He shouted, bringing out the guard captain and the duty warder. They both searched the Tower, but could find nothing. Is it a coincidence that on 12 February 1554 Lady Jane Grey was beheaded on Tower Green, which lies less than 200 yards away from the Salt Tower?

The ghosts of King Edward V and Prince Richard, brothers who died mysteriously at the Tower as children in 1483, have been seen. A more gruesome haunting concerns the Countess of Salisbury, who was sentenced to death in 1541. Her execution ceremony has been re-enacted by spirits on the Tower Green.

Other hauntings at the Tower include the sounds of a phantom patrol marching past, terrible screams and the cries coming from the torture chambers and bizarre smoke-like apparitions floating in the air around the battlements.

I wish I had known about all of this before I visited the Tower of London. Perhaps I would have looked around a bit more closely.


  1. Nothing like a good ghost story to get one's blood flowing huh? ;)

  2. I've always been fascinated by the 9 day Queen. Lady Jane Grey was truly a tragic figure. I was in London this past December and visited The Tower (I have been twice now) here is a link to my blog entry with pics. http://dryfreelean.blogspot.com/2005/12/london.html
    (This isn't spam!) I just found your blog from Obasso's HNT site.

    Happy HNT in any case!

  3. That's cool stuff. Don't know if I really believe it, but they're great stories.

  4. Either that, or you would have been there a bit later at night to catch one of the spirits make their rounds.

    Interesting that you mention Guy Fawkes...I've been learing a lot about the gentleman with the pending release of V for Vendetta.

  5. I agree with you about wishing I had known the ghost stories before I went there. I spent most of my time just wandering around.