Construction on the Tower of London began 944 years ago under the direction of William the Conqueror, after he won the Battle of Hastings. Soon after the victory, he sent an advanced guard into the city of London with orders to build him a fortress. By 1100, the majestic White Tower dominated the skyline. One hundred and seventy-five years later (give or take a few) Edward I would build St. Thomas's Tower as well as the watergate known today as Traitor's gate.
With almost a century's worth of tumultuous history, often whispered sightings of a ghost or two, shouldn't surprise anyone.
Of all the ghosts haunting the towers, the young sons of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Edward V and his brother Richard, the Duke of York, are in my opinion, the most tragic. After their father's death in 1483, the boys, then aged 12 and 9 respectively, were taken to the tower by their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Though Richard had been appointed to care for the boys and prepare Edward for his coronation as king,the Duke seized the throne for himself --and--the boys disappeared.
Most assumed the young princes were murdered, though some believed they escaped. However, in the year 1674, men working at the Tower dug up a wooden box which contained the skeletons of two small humans. Proof of their identity was never confirmed. Nonetheless, King Charles II buried the bones inside Westminster Abbey.
Be they Edward V and Richard or not, the ghosts of two young boys, often seen holding hands, have been reported within various rooms of the Tower and more often than you might think.
|by Sir John Everett Millais, 1878|
And then we have the restless spirit of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII. Poor Queen Anne lost her head on Tower Green, May 19, 1536. Since that fateful day there have been many witnesses claiming to see her roaming the halls of the Tower. We might also mention that--among other places--we have those who swear they have seen her ghostly form at Hever Castle, her childhood home, Windsor Castle, and Salle Church at Norfolk.
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury also haunts the Tower. In May of 1541, she too, lost her head, after having been deemed a traitor. They say on the anniversary of her death, this ghost re-enacts her terrifying, gruesome death, in which the inexperienced executioner utterly bungled his task. (I'll spare you the ghastly details, but they are out there if you want to seek them out...yuck!)
Sir Walter Raleigh is known to flit about the tower as well, startling many a guard. So, if you're ever in London and want a better than average chance to see a ghost, you might want to visit the famous, or infamous, Tower of London.
Are you up for it?