The raised portcullis’ arch they pass,
The wicket with its bars of brass,
The entrance long and low,
Flanked at each turn by loopholes strait
Where bowmen might in ambush wait
(If force or fraud should burst the gate),
To gall an entering foe.

The Gascoyne plan of 1597, reproduced at the end of this book, will show
a straggling line of buildings running partly up the slope of Tower Hill
and terminating in what was known as the Bulwark Gate. It was there that
prisoners, with the exception, of course, of those who came by water to
Traitor’s Gate, were, in Tudor times, delivered to the custodians of the
Tower; and it was there, also, that all who were to be executed on Tower
Hill were given by the Tower authorities into the charge of the City
officials. Grass grew on the hill and its river slope in those days,
and, leaving the Tower Gateway behind, one would, as it were, step into
an open meadow, the declivity towards the Moat on one side and the
cottages of Petty Wales on the other. The aspect of this main entrance
to the Tower has been so altered that it is a little difficult nowadays
to reconstruct it in imagination. The Moat made a semicircular bend
where the present wooden stockade stands, and it had to be crossed at
least twice–some accounts say three times–before the Byward Tower
could be reached. The first drawbridge was protected by the Lion Gate;
the Lion Tower stood near by to command that gate, and was surrounded by
the waters of the Moat. All trace of these outer barbicans and waterways
has disappeared; the Towers have been pulled down, the ditch filled up,
to make the modern approach to the Wharf.

On the right, within the present wooden gateway, the unattractive
erection known as the “ticket-office” occupies the site of the royal
menagerie, which existed here from the days of our Norman kings to the
year 1834, when it was removed to Regent’s Park, and from which the
present Zoo has developed. In the time of Henry III. (1252) the Sheriffs
of London were “ordered to pay fourpence a day for the maintenance of a
white bear, and to provide a muzzle and chain to hold him while fishing
in the Thames.” In Henry’s reign the first elephant seen in England
since the time of the Romans came to the Tower menagerie, and lions and
leopards followed. James I. and his friends came here frequently “to see
lions and bears baited by dogs,” and in 1708 Strype, the historian,
mentions “eagles, owls, and two cats of the mountain,” as occupants of
the cages. In 1829, and during the last five years of its existence
here, the collection consisted of lions, tigers, leopards, a jaguar,
puma, ocelot, caracal, chetah, striped hyæna, hyæna dog, wolves, civet
cats, grey ichneumon, paradoxurus, brown coati, racoon, and a pit of
bears. The “Master of the King’s bears and apes” was an official of some
importance, and received the princely salary of three halfpence a day;
but this was in Plantagenet times.

_Middle Tower._–The first “Tower” that the visitor of to-day passes
under is called, by reason of its position at one time in the centre of
the old ditch, the Middle Tower. Its great circular bastions commanded
the outer drawbridge, and its gateway was defended by a double
portcullis. The sharp turn in the approach–formerly a bridge, now a
paved roadway–to this Tower would make it impossible to “rush” this
gateway with any success. When Elizabeth returned as Queen to the Tower,
which she had left, five years before, as prisoner, it was in front of
this Middle Tower that she alighted from her horse and fell on her knees
“to return thanks to God,” as Bishop Burnet writes, “who had delivered
her from a danger so imminent, and from an escape as miraculous as that
of David.”

_The Moat and Byward Tower._–The bridge and causeway connecting the
Middle and Byward Towers has altered little in appearance, and looks,
to-day, very much as it does in Gascoyne’s plan. But the broad Moat has
been drained; the water was pumped out in 1843, and the bed filled up
with gravel and soil to form a drill ground. It was across that portion
of the Moat lying to the north, under Tower Hill, that two attempts at
escape were made in the last years of Charles I.’s reign. Monk, the
future Duke of Albermarle, had been taken captive at the siege of
Nantwich by Fairfax, and was a prisoner in the Tower for three years.
With him were brought two fellow-prisoners, Lord Macguire and Colonel


They managed to escape from their cell by sawing through the door, at
night, and lowered themselves from the Tower walls to the ditch by means
of a rope which they had found, according to directions conveyed to them
from without, inside a loaf of bread. They succeeded in swimming the
Moat, but were unlucky enough to surprise a sentry, stationed near the
Middle Tower, who had heard the splash they made when leaving the rope
and jumping into the water. On their coming to the opposite bank they
were re-taken, cast back into the prison, and shortly afterwards hanged
at Tyburn. The Lieutenant of the Tower was heavily fined for “allowing
the escape,” poor man! A few years afterwards, Lord Capel, made captive
at the surrender of Colchester Castle, broke prison by having had tools
and a rope secretly conveyed to him with instructions as to which part
of the Moat he should find most shallow. With deliberation he performed
all that was necessary to get himself outside the walls, but he found
the depth of the ditch exceed his expectations. Attempting to wade
across, he was nearly dragged under water by the weight of mud that
clogged his feet, and was, at one point in his perilous progress through
the water, about to call loudly for help lest he should be unable to
continue the exertion necessary and so be drowned. However, cheered by
friends waiting under cover of bushes on the Tower Hill bank, he came at
last to firm ground. He was carried to rooms in the Temple, and from
thence conveyed, some days later, to Lambeth. But the boatman who had
carried the fugitive and his friends from the Temple Stairs, guessing
who his passenger was, raised an alarm. Capel was discovered, put again
in the Tower, and beheaded in March, 1649, beside Westminster Hall. The
grim-looking Byward Tower is said to have been so named from the fact
that the by-word, or password, had to be given at its gateway before
admittance could be gained even to the outer ward of the fortress. On
that side of it nearest the river, a postern gateway leads to a small
drawbridge across the ditch. This gave access to the royal landing-place
on the wharf, immediately opposite, and in this way privileged persons
were able to enter the Tower without attention to those formalities
necessary to gain entry to the buildings in the ordinary way. In the
Byward Tower, to the right, under the archway, is the Warders’ Parlour,
a finely-vaulted room, and outside its doorway we meet one or two of
those Yeomen Warders, whose picturesque uniform, so closely associated
with the Tower, was designed by Holbein the painter, and dates from
Tudor days. These Yeomen Warders are sworn in as special constables,
whose duties lie within the jurisdiction of the Tower, and they take
rank with sergeant-majors in the army. When State trials were held in
Westminster Hall the Yeoman Gaoler escorted the prisoner to and from the
Tower, carrying the processional axe, still preserved in the King’s
House here. The edge of the axe was turned towards the captive after his
trial, during the sad return to the prison-house, if he had–as was
nearly always the case–been condemned to die. This Yeoman still carries
the historic axe in State processions, but it is now merely an emblem of
a vanished power to destroy. Allied to the Warders are a body of men
known as the Yeomen of the Guard, or Beefeaters, who attend on the
King’s person at all his State functions, whether it be in procession or
at levée. The Yeomen were first seen beyond Tower walls in the
coronation procession of Henry VII. The eastern front of the Byward
Tower has a quaint, old-world appearance, and has altered little since
Elizabethan days.

_Bell Tower._–This old Tower, at the angle of the Ballium Wall,
contained at one time, within the turret still to be seen above its
roof, the Tower bell, which in former days was used as an alarm signal.
In the regulations of 1607 we find that “when the Tower bell doth ring
at nights for the shutting in of the gates, all the prisoners, with
their servants, are to withdraw themselves into their chambers, and not
to goe forth that night.” The walls, built by Henry III., are of immense
strength, the masonry being solid for fully ten feet above the ground.
The Tower contains an upper and a lower dungeon, the former lit by
comparatively modern windows, the latter still possessing narrow
openings or arrow-slits. In the upper cell, the walls of which are eight
feet thick, four notable prisoners were confined–Bishop Fisher and Anne
Boleyn in Henry VIII.’s time, Princess Elizabeth in Mary’s reign, and
Lady Arabella Stuart in the days of James I. Fisher was eighty years old
when brought to linger here “in cold, in rags, and in misery.” The aged
Bishop had refused to comply with the Act of Succession and acknowledge
Henry supreme head of the Church of England. From this prison he wrote
to Cromwell, “My dyett, also, God knoweth how slender it is at any
tymes, and now in myn age my stomak may nott awaye but with a few kynd
of meats, which if I want, I decay forthwith, and fall into crafs and
diseases of my bodye, and kan not keep myself in health.” But no
alleviation of his sufferings did he obtain, and early in the morning,
when winter and spring had passed away, and slender rays of June
sunshine had found entrance to his dismal dwelling-place, the Lieutenant
of the Tower came to him to announce that a message from the King had
arrived, and that Fisher was to suffer death that day. The Bishop took
this as happy tidings, granting release from intolerable conditions of
life. At nine o’clock he was carried to Little Tower Hill (towards the
present Royal Mint buildings), praying as he went. On the scaffold he
exclaimed, “_Accedite ad eum et illuminamini, et facies vestræ non
confundentur_,” with hands uplifted, and, having spoken some few words
to the crowd around, was repeating the words of the Thirty-first Psalm,
“In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust,” when the axe fell. Into the
lower dungeon Sir Thomas More was taken in the same month as Fisher
(April 1534). More had been friend and companion to King Henry, and had
held the office of Lord Chancellor after Wolsey. But past friendship and
high services were forgotten when, with Fisher, he refused to accept
the Oath in the Act of Succession, and he was committed to the Tower.
For fifteen months he lay confined in this “close, filthy prison, shut
up among mice and rats,” and was so weakened as to be “scarce able to
stand,” when taken to the scaffold, on Tower Hill, on July 6, 1535. In
Mr. Prothero’s _Psalms in Human Life_ his last moments are thus
described:–“The scaffold was unsteady, and, as he put his foot on the
ladder, he said to the Lieutenant, ‘I pray thee see me safe up, and for
my coming down let me shift for myself.’ After kneeling down on the
scaffold and repeating the Psalm ‘Have mercy upon me, O God’ (Ps. li),
which had always been his favourite prayer, he placed his head on the
low log that served as a block, and received the fatal stroke.” His head
was placed on London Bridge, but soon afterwards it was claimed by his
devoted daughter and was buried with her at Canterbury when she died, in
1544. The bodies of Fisher and More are buried side by side, in St.
Peter’s, on Tower Green, but Fisher’s remains had rested for some years
in Allhallows Barking, on Tower Hill, before removal to the Tower
chapel. At the entrance to the upper chamber of the Bell Tower from the
passage on the wall, known as Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, there is the
following inscription on the stone:–


Beyond the Bell Tower a broad window, with balcony, will be noticed in
the adjacent King’s House. This gives light to a room known as the
Council Chamber, in which Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators were
tried and condemned to the rack. Above the fireplace in this room an
elaborate carving preserves the features of the first Stuart who sat on
the English throne, and, near by, the many virtues–lest their existence
should be doubted by unbelievers–of that amiable monarch are set forth
for all to read who may. In this room Pepys “did go to dine” (February
1663-4) with Sir J. Robinson, then Lieutenant of the Tower, “his
ordinary table being very good.” James, Duke of Monmouth, taken as a
fugitive after Sedgemoor, was imprisoned in this house (1685) till his
execution, and here he parted from his wife and children during the last
sad hours.

_Traitor’s Gate and St. Thomas’s Tower._–If any were asked what
impressed them most during their visit to the Tower, or what they
desired to see when planning that visit, I think that they would name
the Traitor’s Gate. It is certainly the best preserved of the Tudor
portions, has been least spoiled by intrusion of irrelevant things, and
is left in its quietness to the doves that incessantly flit in and out
of the crevices of its stones and rest upon the bars of its massive
gateway. Above it rises the great arch, sixty-two feet span, supporting
St. Thomas’s Tower, built, as has already been stated, by Henry III.,
and named after St. Thomas of Canterbury. This “Watergate,” as it was at
one time called, was the only direct way of entering the Tower from the
river, and, before the draining of the moat, the gate here was always
partly covered by water, and boats were brought right up to the steps in
front of the Bloody Tower. They were moored to the heavy iron ring that
is still to be seen at the left of the archway of the tower just
mentioned. The older steps will be noticed beneath the more modern
stone-facings laid upon them, and those steps have been trodden by some
of the most famous men and women in our history. It will be remembered
that between these steps and the


gloomy archway leading up to Tower Green, the condemned Sir Thomas More
met, on his way to the Bell Tower, his daughter, who, in a frenzy of
grief, thrust her way through the guards and flung herself on her
father’s neck, crying, in despair, “O my father, my father!” Those who
record the scene say that even the stern warders were moved to tears
when the father gave his child his last blessing and she was led away
from him. To these steps came Anne Boleyn; Cromwell, Earl of Essex;
Queen Katherine Howard; Seymour, Duke of Somerset; Lady Jane Grey,
Princess Elizabeth, Devereux, Earl of Essex; the Duke of Monmouth, and
the Seven Bishops. In the room above the Gate, Lord Grey de Wilton died
(1614), after eleven years of imprisonment on the mere accusation of
wishing to marry Arabella Stuart, “without permission of King James I.”
St. Thomas’s Tower at one time, as is evident from the old piscina
discovered there, contained a chapel; the tower has been carefully
restored, without and within, and is now the residence of the Keeper of
the Crown Jewels.

_The Bloody Tower._–In Henry VIII.’s reign this was known as the Garden
Tower, and took its name from the Constable’s garden, now the Parade in
front of the King’s House; but since Elizabeth’s time it has been called
the Bloody Tower, owing, it is surmised, to the suicide therein of Henry
Percy, eighth Earl of Northumberland, in 1585. But that is the least of
its mysteries. It was within this tower that the young Princes
disappeared in July, 1483. They had been removed from the royal palace
near this tower when Richard assumed kingship, and placed within these
grim chambers. They were closely watched; all help from without would be
offered in vain; their spirits drooped, and the feeling crept upon them
that they would never leave their prison-house alive. Sir Robert
Brackenbury had become Lieutenant of the Tower: to him Richard, who was
riding towards Gloucester, sent a messenger with letters asking him if
he would be willing to rid the King of the Princes. This messenger had
delivered his papers to the Lieutenant as he knelt at prayer in the
Chapel of St. John in the White Tower. Brackenbury refused the King’s
request, and said he would be no party to such an act even if his
refusal cost him his life. The messenger returned in haste, spurring his
horse westward, and overtook Richard at Warwick. The King finding
Brackenbury obdurate, sent off Sir James Tyrrell with a warrant to
obtain possession of the keys of the Tower for one night. The keys were
given to him, and he assumed command of the place for the time. Two
ruffians, John Dighton and Miles Forrest–some say a third was there,
reminding one of the mysterious third murderer in _Macbeth_–crept into
the bedroom of the sleeping boys and smothered them with the bedclothes.
Shakespeare has painted the scene so vividly that, though the actual
manner of death is unknown, this one is accepted as probably nearest the
truth. Tyrrell saw the dead bodies, gave orders that they should be
buried secretly “at the foot of the stairs,” then, resigning the keys,
rode off to give the news to Richard. Tyrrell came himself to death on
Tower Hill in later years, and his accomplices died in misery. In
Charles II.’s days two skeletons were found “under the steps,” not of
this tower but of the White Tower, and were laid in Westminster Abbey.

Sir Walter Raleigh was a captive in the Bloody Tower from 1604-1616, and
in its chambers he wrote the portion of his _History of the World_ that
he was able to finish before his later troubles and death put an end to
his labours. It is pleasant to hear of Raleigh spending his days, with
his great work to cheer him, at one time sitting in the Constable’s
garden, at another conversing from the walls with those who passed to
and fro below. But his writings were not sufficient to satisfy the
energies of this son of an energetic age. He set up a laboratory, with
retorts and furnaces, and made chemical experiments; and so it happened
that at this time, to quote the elder Disraeli, “Raleigh was surrounded,
in the Tower, by the highest literary and scientific circle in the
nation.” These men of mark in the earlier years of the first Stuart King
came as guests to the Tower, or had the misfortune to be detained there
“during the King’s pleasure.” Raleigh’s wife and son lived with him, and
they had their own servants to wait on them. But the Lieutenant of the
Tower, Sir George Harvey, with whom Raleigh had spent long evenings and
with whom he had made warm friendship, was succeeded by Sir William
Waad, who seems to have taken a personal dislike to Sir Walter, and
contrived to make his life as miserable as possible. In 1610 Raleigh was
kept a close prisoner for three months, and his wife and child, no
longer allowed to share his captivity, were “banished the Tower”–a
decree that would prove only too welcome to many–and lived for some
time in a house on Tower Hill. In 1615 the King consented to release
Raleigh, and allow him to command an expedition to El Dorado, which set
off in 1617. What the result of that unfortunate voyage was all know:
mutiny and despair may best describe its end. The King was furious; his
greed for Spanish gold was unsatisfied; Spain demanded the head of “one
who had been her mortal enemy.” A decision had to be made whether
Raleigh should be delivered to the Spaniard or put back in the Tower.
His wife planned escape for the husband she had sacrificed every comfort
to aid. On a Sunday night, when Sir Walter was detained in the City–in
his wife’s house in Broad Street–he put on disguise, crept through the
narrow lanes to Tower Hill, went down by Allhallows Church to Tower
Dock, where a boat was waiting to receive him and take him to a ship at
Tilbury. But when the watermen put out into the river they saw a second
boat following them closely; Sir Walter was betrayed by a man he had
trusted, and found himself a prisoner in the Tower once again. He was
shut up in the Brick Tower, where he awaited his trial, then removed to
the Gate House, by Westminster Hall. When his sentence was passed and
he had but a few days to live, his wife remained with him, and they
parted at the midnight before execution. In the morning the Dean of
Westminster gave him his last Communion, and at eight o’clock he went
out to Old Palace Yard, cheerfully prepared for what was to follow.

In the Bloody Tower Sir Thomas Overbury was poisoned in 1613. This is
one of the blackest crimes that stain Tower history. Overbury had been a
friend of Raleigh’s, and had often visited him in his confinement; now
Sir Thomas himself, because he had condemned the marriage between the
Earl of Somerset and Lady Frances Howard, was brought to the same tower.
Lady Frances determined to have Overbury put out of the way, and a
notorious quack and procuress of the period, Mrs. Turner, had been hired
to administer the drug. But this slow-poisoning proving too lengthy a
process, two hired assassins ended Overbury’s sufferings by smothering
him, at night, with the pillows of his bed. Some time afterwards, by the
confession of a boy who had been at the time in the employment of the
apothecary from whom the drugs were bought, the crime was disclosed.
Horror and indignation caused a public outcry for vengeance: the
Lieutenant of


the Tower, Elwes, with Mrs. Turner and the two murderers, were all put
to death. Somerset and his Countess were imprisoned in the room in the
Bloody Tower, where Overbury had died; they were eventually pardoned and
“lived in seclusion and disgrace.”

Another victim, who died in this tower during Charles I.’s reign, was
Sir John Eliot, a man of great abilities and at one time Vice-Admiral of
Devon. He had already been imprisoned, and released, before his entry to
the Tower in 1629, and he passed away, in his cell, in 1632. Mr.
Trevelyan has said of him, “His letters, speeches, and actions in the
Tower reveal a spirit of cheerfulness and even of humour, admirable in
one who knows that he has chosen to die in prison in the hands of
victorious enemies.” During his last months he contracted consumption in
his unhealthy quarters and suffered harsh treatment. Even when Sir John
had died the hard-hearted King refused to allow his body to be given to
his relatives for burial, and commanded him “to be buried in the parish
in which he died.” He was laid to rest in the Chapel on Tower Green,
which may be called the parish church of the Tower.

Felton, the murderer of Buckingham, was thrown into this tower in 1628
and Archbishop Laud was prisoner here from December 16, 1640, to January
10, 1644. Here, also, in July, 1683, Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex “cutt
his own throat,” as the Register of St. Peter ad Vincula shows. The
infamous Judge Jeffreys came here as prisoner in 1688, having been
“taken” in a low ale-house in Wapping, and is reported to have spent his
days in Bloody Tower “imbibing strong drink,” from the effects of which
employment he died in 1689. This old tower has tragedy and misery enough
in its records to deserve its name, and it is a mistake on the part of
Tower authorities to allow so interesting a building to be closed
altogether to the public. The narrow chamber above the archway on the
south side still contains all the machinery for raising and lowering the
portcullis which, when down, would at one time have prevented all access
to the Inner Ward. This is believed to be the only ancient portcullis in
England that is still in working order.

_The Wakefield Tower._–The lower portion of this tower is, with the
White Tower, one of the oldest portions of all the buildings, and was
laid down in Norman times. Henry III. rebuilt the upper part, and it
served as the entrance to his palace, which lay to the east. During the
Commonwealth the great hall in which Anne Boleyn was tried, and which
was attached to this tower, was demolished. The name “Wakefield” was
given to the tower after the battle of Wakefield in 1460, when the
captive Yorkists were lodged here. In former times the tower had been
called the Record Tower and the Hall Tower. In the octagonal chamber
where the Crown Jewels are now kept, the recess to the south-east was at
one time an oratory. In Tower records of the thirteenth century it is so
spoken of. Here tradition asserts that Henry VI. was murdered by Duke
Richard of Gloucester, who, entering the chamber from the palace, found
Henry at prayer and treacherously stabbed him to death. To the dungeon
beneath this tower the men who were “out in the Forty-Five,” and who
were taken captive after that rebellion which was crushed at Culloden,
were brought and huddled together with so little regard for the
necessity of fresh air that many of them died on the damp earthen floor
of the cell. The walls of this dungeon are thirteen feet thick; from
floor to vaulted roof, within, there is only ten feet space. Those men
who survived even the terrors of this place, and whose hearts remained
true to the royal house of Stuart, were shipped off to the West Indies,
and so ended “an auld sang.” The wonder, the bravery, the sacrifice and
sadness of it all is set down for after ages to marvel at in _Waverley_.
Happy those who fell at Culloden, for they, at least, rest under the
heather; they escaped the miserable English dungeons and the
wickednesses of the plantations.

As we leave the Wakefield Tower we pass down under the archway of the
Bloody Tower, and, in going eastwards and turning to the left a few
yards farther on, come to the foot of the grassy slope at the top of
which stands the great White Tower, tinkered at by Wren, but otherwise,
to-day, much as the Conqueror left it. In this now open ground, where
has been placed the gun-carriage on which the body of Queen Victoria was
carried from Windsor railway station to St. George’s Chapel on that
memorable 2nd of February, 1901, rose, in Plantagenet and Tudor days,
the Royal Palace in the Tower, and the Hall in which the Courts of
Justice sat. The Court of Common Pleas was held in this great hall by
the river, a Gothic building, dating, probably, from the reign of Henry
III.; the Court of King’s Bench being held in the Lesser Hall “under the
east turret of the Keep”–or White Tower. At certain times “the right
of public entry” of all citizens to the Tower was insisted on. But a
certain ceremonial had to be observed beforehand. The “aldermen and
commoners met in Allhallows Barking Church, on Tower Hill, and chose six
sage persons to go as a deputation to the Tower, and ask leave to see
the King, and demand free access for all people to the courts of law
held within the Tower.” It was also “to be granted that no guard should
keep watch over them, or close the gates”–a most necessary precaution.
Their request being granted by the King “the six messengers returned to
Barking Church … and the Commons then elected three men of standing to
act as spokesmen. Great care was taken that no person should go into the
royal presence who was in rags or shoeless. Every one was to have his
hair cut close and his face newly shaved. Mayor, aldermen, sheriff,
cryer, beadles, were all to be clean and neat, and every one was to lay
aside his cape and cloak, and put on his coat and surcoat.”

_The White Tower or Keep._–This is the very heart and centre of the
Tower buildings, and all the lesser towers and connecting walls, making
the Inner and Outer Wards, and the broad moat encircling all, are but
the means of protection and inviolable security of this ancient keep.
Within its rock-like walls a threatened king could live in security.
Here were provided the elementary necessaries of life–a storehouse for
food, a well to supply fresh water, a great fireplace (in the thickness
of the wall), and a place of devotion, all within the walls of this one
tower. The doorway by which we enter, after passing the ridiculous
ticket-box and unnecessary policeman, was cut through the solid wall in
Henry VIII.’s time. At the foot of the stairs giving access, the bones
of the murdered Princes were found in a small chest, some ten feet below
the ground, during Charles II.’s reign.

The winding stairway within the wall leads us to the western end of the
Chapel of St. John, which is, with the possible exception of the Lady
Chapel at Durham, the finest Norman chapel in England. It has a
beautiful arcading, with heavy circular pillars, square capitals and
bases, and a wide triforium over the aisles. Here is a perfect Norman
church in miniature. The south aisle at one time communicated with the
royal palace, and the gallery with the State apartments of the keep. It
is only within recent years that the sanctity of the place has been
again observed, and now visitors behave here as in any other consecrated
building; but it was for many years used as a sort of store chamber, and
the authorities at one time proposed turning it into a military tailors’
workshop! That was in the mid-nineteenth century, when England in
general had fallen into a state of artistic _zopf_ and the daughters of
music were brought low. So low, too, had the guardians of the nation
fallen in their ideas that this beautiful building meant nothing more to
them than a place, a commodious place, of four stone walls, that was
lying idle and might be “put to some practical use”! The Prince Consort
made timely intervention and the desecration was not persisted in. It
was in this chapel that the rabble in Richard II.’s time found
Archbishop Sudbury at prayer; at prayer, too, in this chapel, knelt
Brackenbury when the messenger from King Richard III. brought demands
for the Princes’ murder; here Elizabeth of York, Queen of Henry VII.,
lay in state after death; here Queen Mary, after the death of her
brother, Edward VI., attended Mass and gave thanks for the suppression
of revolt; and here the vacillating Northumberland, father-in-law of
Lady Jane Grey, declared himself a Roman Catholic lest he should lose
his life, but without the effect he desired. In this solemn place, too,
those who aspired to knighthood watched their arms at the altar, passing
the night in vigil before the day when the king would elect them to the
order. This was the place of worship of our Norman and Plantagenet
kings. Could any other building in the country claim like associations?
Yet these things slip the mind of a generation, and then is the hallowed
ground made desolate.

The large rooms entered from the chapel are the former State apartments,
now given over to the housing of a collection of weapons and armour
which is described on the show-cases, and therefore need not be detailed
here. In these rooms Baliol in the reign of Edward I., and King David of
Scotland in that of Edward III., were kept prisoners, but not in the
strictest sense. Other notable captives here were King John of France
(after the battle of Poitiers), Prince (afterwards King) James of
Scotland, and Charles, Duke of Orleans–all of whom have been spoken of
in the previous chapter. Several models of the Tower buildings, made at
various periods, will be found in these rooms. The larger–western–apartment,


in which are preserved the block and axe used at the last execution on
Tower Hill, in 1747, is the Banqueting Hall of the Keep, and was the
scene, so some maintain, of the trial of Anne Boleyn, in May, 1536.
Raleigh, in 1601, watched the execution of Essex from one of its western
windows. A mounted figure of Queen Elizabeth, dressed as on the occasion
of her progress to St. Paul’s Cathedral to render thanks for the
destruction of the Armada, has been removed from this room to a dark
corner of the crypt of St. John’s Chapel; its place is taken by an
illuminated show-case in which the Coronation robes of the reigning
sovereign are displayed. Models of the instruments of torture–the rack,
thumb-screws, scavenger’s daughter, iron neck-collar, and so forth–are
shown in this room, reminding us that though torture was never legal
punishment in England, it was practised in Tower dungeons, especially in
Tudor times, when, in the wisdom of those in power, occasion demanded
it. But the whole business is too despicable to dwell upon.

A continuation of the winding stairway in the south-west angle of the
wall gives access to the upper floor and ancient Council Chamber, which
is the room entered first. Here Richard II. abdicated in favour of
Henry IV. Froissart, describing the ceremony, says, “King Richard was
released from his prison and entered the hall which had been prepared
for the occasion, royally dressed, the sceptre in his hand and the crown
on his head, but without supporters on either side.” He said, after
raising the crown from his head and placing it before him, “Henry, fair
cousin, and Duke of Lancaster, I present and give to you this crown with
which I was crowned King of England, and all the rights dependent on
it.” When all was over and Henry “had called in a public notary that an
authentic act should be drawn up of the proceedings,” Richard was led
back “to where he had come from, and the Duke and other lords mounted
their horses to return home.” It was in this Council Chamber of the
White Tower, also, that Richard III. enacted that dramatic scene on
which the curtain fell with the death of Hastings, the Lord Chamberlain.
The lords were seated at council when Richard entered the broad, low
room in anger, and exclaimed, to their astonishment, “What are they
worthy to have that compass and imagine my destruction?” The lords, sore
amazed at this, sat dumb, and none dared speak lest he be accused. Then
the irate Richard bared his withered arm and called on all to look what
sorcery had done. His protestation had, however, been somewhat
overacted, and his lords in the Chamber of Council saw that he was but
in a fit of spleen and hasty to pick a quarrel with any. Still, Lord
Hastings took courage to stand and reply, “If any have so heinously
done, they are worthy of heinous punishment.” “What!” said Richard,
starting up; “thou servest me ill, I ween, with ‘ifs.’ I tell thee they
have so done, and that I will make good on thy body, traitor.” In great
anger he strode to a table and hit it heavily with his clenched fist. At
this signal a great number of armed men, who had been cunningly hid in
the stone passage that lay within the thickness of the wall, entered the
room and blocked the doorways. Richard, coming into the centre of the
chamber and pointing to Hastings, exclaimed, “I arrest thee, traitor!”
“What, me, my lord?” replied the Chamberlain. “Yea, thee, traitor.” And
Hastings being seized and made prisoner, “I will not to dinner,”
continued his accuser, “till I see thy head off.” Without time to say a
word on his own behalf, Lord Hastings, in order that the repast of
Richard should not be unduly delayed, was hurried down the narrow,
winding stairway in the north-east turret of the White Tower and led
out upon what is now the parade ground, below. It is told that the way
to the block on Tower Green near by was greatly obstructed by stones and
much timber then being used in rebuilding houses within the Tower walls.
Richard was watching with impatience, from a window in the Council
Chamber, the progress of his victim to death, and, in order to avoid
delay, Hastings was compelled by his captors to lay his head on a rough
log of wood that blocked the path. So was he brought to the axe ere
Richard, satisfied, and himself again, went to dine.

The crypt of St. John’s Chapel (which, with the dungeons, is shown only
to those who have obtained an order and are accompanied by a special
warder), a very dark place before the comparatively modern windows were
put in, was used as a prison cell, and here were confined those captured
in the Wyatt rebellion. Prisoners’ inscriptions may still be seen on the
wall on either side of the smaller dungeon, erroneously termed
“Raleigh’s Cell.” This grim chamber, hollowed out of the wall of the
crypt, would, when the door was shut and all light of day excluded, have
been the most unwelcome hole for any human being to linger in. To assert
that Raleigh sat and wrote here, by rushlight, is drawing too heavily on
our credulity. Even “that beast Waad” would not have put his famous
prisoner into such a place of darkness. The crypt has a remarkable
barrel-shaped roof, the stones of which are most cunningly set together.
The walls are of amazing thickness, as may be seen by the depth of the
window recesses. Some few years ago a quantity of stained glass was
found in this crypt; some of it of sixteenth-century date, the remainder
modern and of little value. Fragments of this glass have been put
together with care and skill and placed in the small windows of the
Chapel of St. John, above.

The larger dungeons of the Keep are entered beneath the stairway that
leads to the parade-ground from the level of the crypt we have just
visited. These lower places of confinement have been sadly modernised,
white-washed, and have all the appearance of respectable wine-cellars,
lit by electric light. In these once gloomy chambers, deep down below
the level of the ground, stood the rack; the cries of victims would not
be heard beyond the massive walls. This instrument of torture was an
open frame of solid oak about three feet high. The prisoner was laid
within it, on the bare ground, his wrists and ankles being tied to
rollers at each extremity. By means of levers these rollers were moved
in opposite directions and the body of the prisoner was thereby raised
to the level of the frame. While his body was thus suspended he was
questioned, and if his replies came tardily a turn or two of the
rollers, which threatened to pull his joints from their sockets, was
considered necessary to extract from the sufferer any information
desired. In this place, and in this way, Guy Fawkes was racked after
Gunpowder Plot, and, between the periods of torture, was confined in a
small cell called Little Ease, which was constructed so skilfully that
the captive could neither lie down nor stand up with any satisfaction,
but was compelled to exist there in a cramped and stooping posture. This
miserable cell lay between the dungeon containing the rack and the great
dungeon under the crypt of St. John’s Chapel. Though the formidable
iron-studded door of Little Ease, with its ingenious system of locks and
bolts, is still to be seen, the cell itself has been broken through to
give entrance to the black vault beyond. Yet even to-day, in spite of
foolish “improvements,” some idea of the power of Little Ease to
administer suffering can be gained. In this, at one time, circumscribed
space, Guy Fawkes spent his last weeks, with no fresh air to breathe and
no glimmer of light to cheer. The gloomy dungeon, to which Little Ease
now gives access, under St. John’s crypt, was the foulest and blackest
of all the Tower cells. Even now it is a place of horror, though an
attempt has been made to enlarge the single window, high up on the
eastern side, and admit a little more light. Hundreds of Jews were shut
up here in King John’s time, charged, as has already been stated in the
previous chapter, with tampering with the coinage of the realm. No light
of any kind entered the place in those days, the earthen floor was
carefully kept damp for greater inconvenience, the air was poisonous,
and the place was at all times infested with rats. This cell rivals in
horror the Black Hole of Calcutta, and in it men were, to use a
Meredithian expression, chilled in subterranean sunlessness. In the
basement chambers, to the west of this dungeon and of the torture
chamber, a well has, within recent years, been discovered, together with
a secret passage leading towards the moat and the river. In connection
with the discovery of this passage it is stated that a grated cell had
been found in which the waters of the Thames flowed and receded with the
tide. It is possible that some poor sufferer may have been put, for a
time, in this place of horror, but we may be thankful that, as no
details have survived time’s ravages, it is not necessary for us to
demand definite information on the subject. There are certain corners of
Tower history that are better left unexplored. The dungeons of the White
Tower might conceivably have been left in something of their original
state. The “modernisation” they have undergone has robbed them of all
appearance of age. They have the look (with the exception of the Jews’
dungeon) of store cellars constructed last week. Utility has done its
best to kill romance.

_Tower Green._–Beneath the western wall of the White Tower there is
massed together, and now railed in, a curious collection of old guns and
mortars, mostly trophies won from France, Spain and Portugal. Some are
early examples of English cannon found in the _Mary Rose_, wrecked off
Spithead in 1545. Two solemn ravens hover about these old guns day by
day, and perch at times, with significant gravity, on the site of the
block near by. Tower Green was the place of private, as Tower Hill was
the place of public, execution, and was reserved for culprits of Royal
rank. This open space in the centre of the buildings saw prisoners led
from cell to cell, saw many a headless body carried on rude stretcher to


in St. Peter’s, and was the place of revels on far-off coronation eves
when the King of the morrow was feasting in the Keep above or in the
Palace. It saw, also, the last sad moments of three Queens of England.
In the far corner, towards the Bloody Tower, lay the Constable’s Garden
in which Raleigh walked, and in which the proud Princess Elizabeth had
paced along the paths that her favourite of later days had been sent by
the prouder Queen to tread. Farther westward, and marked by a sentry-box
at the door, is the King’s House, in which lives the present Major of
the Tower. It was from this house that Lord Nithsdale escaped, on the
eve of his execution, in 1716. His wife, who had ridden in bitter,
wintry weather from Scotland in order to make appeal to King George on
her husband’s behalf, found only disappointment as a result of the
appeal to royal clemency. But she was not to be daunted by her rebuff at
Court. Though the attempt seemed quite a hopeless one, she was
determined to make all effort possible to save her lord from the
scaffold. From her lodgings in Drury Lane she walked to the Tower,
accompanied by her landlady, Mrs. Mills, and a friend, Mrs. Morgan. Mrs.
Morgan consented to wear a dress belonging to Mrs. Mills above her own
dress, and Lady Nithsdale proposed to get her husband away from the
Tower disguised in this extra dress. When she reached the King’s House
she was allowed to take in with her only one friend at a time, and so
brought in Mrs. Morgan, who had, she explained, come to bid Lord
Nithsdale farewell. When the custodian of the prison room had retired,
Lord Nithsdale was hastily dressed in the spare set of female garments
and Mrs. Morgan was sent out to bring in “her maid, Evans.” Mrs. Mills
came upstairs in answer to the call, and held a handkerchief to her face
“as was natural,” wrote Lady Nithsdale when describing the events
afterwards, “for a person going to take a last leave of a friend before
execution. I desired her to do this that my lord might go out in the
same manner. Her eyebrows were inclined to be sandy, and as my lord’s
were dark and thick, I had prepared some paint to disguise him. I had
also got an artificial head-dress of the same coloured hair as hers, and
rouged his face and cheeks, to conceal his beard which he had not had
time to shave. All this provision I had before left in the Tower. I made
Mrs. Mills take off her own hood and put on that which I had brought for
her. I then took her by the hand and led her out of my lord’s chamber.
In passing through the next room, in which were several people, with all
the concern imaginable, I said, ‘My dear Mrs. Catherine, go in all haste
and send me my waiting-maid; she certainly cannot reflect how late it
is. I am to present my petition to-night; to-morrow it is too late.
Hasten her as much as possible, for I shall be on thorns till she
comes.’… When I had seen her safe out I returned to my lord and
finished dressing him. I had taken care that Mrs. Mills did not go out
crying, as she came in, that my lord might better pass for the lady who
came in crying and afflicted; and the more so that as he had the same
dress that she wore. When I had almost finished dressing my lord, I
perceived it was growing dark, and was afraid that the light of the
candle might betray us, so I resolved to set off. I went out leading him
by the hand, whilst he held his handkerchief to his eyes. I spoke to him
in the most piteous and afflicted tone, bewailing the negligence of my
maid Evans, who had ruined me by her delay. Then I said, ‘My dear Mrs.
Betty … run quickly and bring her with you. I am almost distracted
with this disappointment.’ The guards opened the door, and I went
downstairs with him, still conjuring him to make all possible despatch.
As soon as he had cleared the door, I made him walk before me, for fear
the sentinel should take notice of his walk. At the bottom of the stairs
I met my dear Evans, into whose hands I confided him.” Lord Nithsdale,
now safely out of the walls and on Tower Hill, was hurried to a
convenient lodging in the City. Lady Nithsdale, having sent “her maid
Betty” off, returned to her lord’s room, and, alone there, pretended to
converse with her husband, imitating his voice so well that no
suspicions were aroused. She continues her narrative thus: “I then
thought proper to make off also. I opened the door and stood half at it,
that those in the outward chamber might hear what I said, but held it so
close that they could not look in. I bade my lord formal farewell for
the night, and added that something more than usual must have happened
to make Evans negligent, on this important occasion, who had always been
so punctual in the smallest trifles; that I saw no other remedy but to
go in person; that if the Tower was then open, when I had finished my
business, I would return that night; but that he might be assured I
would be with him as early in the morning as I could gain admittance to
the Tower, and I flattered myself I should bring more favourable news.
Then, before I shut the door, I pulled through the string of the latch,
so that it could only be opened on the inside.” On her way out Lady
Nithsdale told one of the servants that candles need not be taken in to
his master “until he sent for them,” and so left the King’s House,
crossed Tower Green in the dusk of the evening, and was soon safely in
London streets. Lord Nithsdale eventually escaped, disguised as a
footman, in the suite of the Venetian Ambassador, from Dover. Lady
Nithsdale bravely returned to Dumfriesshire, and, at great risk, for
“the King was great insensed at the trick she had played,” recovered
valuable papers buried in a garden there, then joined her husband in
Rome. By her splendid intrepidity she had saved her lord from the
scaffold on the very eve of execution, had baffled the King’s
emissaries, and altogether gave King George cause to complain that she
had given him more trouble than “any other woman in the whole of

_Beauchamp Tower._–This tower lies in the centre of the western Ballium
Wall, and is entered at the foot of a flight of steps leading down from
the level of the Green. A narrow winding stairway, which is typical of
the means of ingress and egress in all the lesser towers on the walls,
brings us to the large prison-chamber of this tower, the only portion
shown to the public. In Tudor days the Beauchamp Tower was set aside
specially as the place of detention of captives of high estate in the
realm. It is the least gloomy of the towers. It must at all times have
had a good supply of light, if we may judge by the delicacy of the
inscriptions and carvings that those imprisoned there have left upon its
walls. On entering the prison-room an inscription bearing the word
“Peveril” will be seen on the wall to the left. This caught the eye of
Sir Walter Scott when visiting the Tower, and suggested the title for
the then unwritten novel, the scenes of which are laid in the time of
Charles II. In that book a description is given, in chapter xl, of the
King’s visit to the fortress. “In the meantime the royal barge paused at
the Tower; and, accompanied by a laughing train of ladies and of
courtiers, the gay monarch made the echoes of the old prison-towers ring
with the unwonted sounds of mirth and revelry…. Charles, who often
formed manly and sensible resolutions, though he was too easily diverted
from them by indolence or pleasure, had some desire to make himself
personally acquainted with the state of the military stores, arms, etc.,
of which the Tower was then, as now, the magazine…. The King,
accompanied by the Dukes of Buckingham, Ormond, and one or two others,
walked through the well-known hall [in the White Tower] in which is
preserved the most splendid magazine of arms in the world, and which,
though far from exhibiting its present extraordinary state of
perfection, was even then an arsenal worthy of the great nation to which
it belonged.” In the same chapter the Tower legend of the King’s
discovery of Coleby (who had helped the King at Worcester fight) as a
warder in the Tower is told. Sir Walter adds a footnote to the tale:
“The affecting circumstances are, I believe, recorded in one of the
little manuals which are put into the hands of visitors.” In this room
of the Beauchamp Tower, Nigel, Lord Glenvarloch, is imprisoned as
narrated in _The Fortunes of Nigel_, which pictures earlier days–the
times of James I. Nigel “followed the lieutenant to the ancient
buildings on the western side of the parade, and adjoining to the
chapel, used in those days as a State prison, but in ours [this was
written in 1822] as the mess-room of the officers of the guard upon duty
at the fortress. The double doors were unlocked, the prisoner ascended a
few steps, followed by the lieutenant and a warder of the higher class.
They entered a large, but irregular, low-roofed and dark apartment,
exhibiting a very scanty proportion of furniture…. The lieutenant,
having made his reverence with the customary compliment that ‘He trusted
his lordship would not long remain under his guardianship,’ took his
leave…. Nigel proceeded to amuse himself with the melancholy task of
deciphering the names, mottoes, verses and hieroglyphics with which his
predecessors in captivity had covered the walls of their prison-house.
There he saw the names of many forgotten sufferers mingled with others
which will continue in remembrance until English history shall perish.
There were the pious effusions of the devout Catholic, poured forth on
the eve of his sealing his profession at Tyburn, mingled with those of
the firm Protestant about to feed the fires of Smithfield…. It was
like the roll of the prophet, a record of lamentation and mourning, and
yet not unmixed with brief interjections of resignation, and sentences
expressive of the firmest resolution.” There are ninety-one names on the
walls of this room in the Beauchamp Tower, and the earliest date, 1462,
is cut beside the name of Talbot. Other notable inscriptions are those
of the Pole family (No. 33), of which two members died in


captivity here; the Dudley carving (No. 14), consisting of a frame made
up of a garland of roses, geraniums, honeysuckle, and oak leaves. Within
are a bear and lion supporting a ragged staff, which is the Dudley
crest. Beneath is the name of the carver, John Dudley–the eldest of
five Dudley brothers imprisoned in this chamber. This John, Earl of
Warwick, died here, a prisoner. The Bailly inscription (No. 17) dates
from Elizabeth’s reign, and was carved by Charles Bailly, involved in
plots to liberate Mary Queen of Scots after her coming to England. He
has carved these words on the stone: “Wise men ought circumspectly to
see what they do, to examine before they speake, to prove before they
take in hand, to beware whose company they use, and, above all things,
to whom they truste.” The Earl of Arundel, one of the devout Catholics
mentioned by Scott, died, in this room, after ten years’ imprisonment in
the Tower. His inscription is in Latin, and dated June 22, 1587. The
words may be translated, “The more suffering for Christ in this world,
the more will be the glory with Christ in the next. Thou hast crowned
him with honour and glory, O Lord! In memory everlasting he will be
just.” Another carving (No. 26), of April 22, 1559, concludes thus:
“There is an end of all things, and the ende of a thing is better than
the beginin. Be wyse and pacyente in troble, for wysdom defends the as
well as mony. Use well the tyme of prosperite, ande remember the tyme of
misfortewn.” This inscription bears some resemblance to another of
Bailly’s (No. 51), where he has recorded on his prison wall that, “The
most unhapy man in the world is he that is not pacient in adversities;
for men are not killed with the adversities they have, but with the
impacience which they suffer…. Hope to the end and have pacience.” If
any were in need of patience and of hope they were these poor prisoners
in the Beauchamp Tower. Another captive, T. Salmon, in 1622 recorded
that he had been kept “close prisoner here, 8 months, 32 weeks, 224
days, 5,376 hours.” The husband of Lady Jane Grey carved on these walls
(No. 85) the one word “Jane,” and this in its simplicity is the saddest
of all the writings on the wall. This tower, which was restored by
Salvin in 1854, still retains an original Edward III. window and much
other ancient work; its name is derived from the Thomas Beauchamp, Earl
of Warwick, imprisoned towards the end of the fourteenth century. During
the time of the Wyatt rebellion it appears to have been known as the
Cobham Tower, but that name did not adhere to it long. It consists of
three floors, the main prison-room being on the second storey, and
possesses a battlemented roof. In this tower a secret passage has been
discovered, in the wall, where spies could hover and overhear the talk
of prisoners. To the north of it, and opposite the Chapel, stands the
Chaplain’s House, and that portion of Tower Green immediately adjoining
was at one period a burial-ground for “Tower parishioners.”

_Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula._–The crypt of the present chapel was
built in the reign of Henry III.; all that stands above it is of the
Tudor period. In 1867 it received its last careful restoration, but
apart from its tragic associations it is not a very inspiring bit of
ecclesiastical architecture. There is a peculiar stiffness about the
building and an oppressive gloom in the place that makes one regard it
rather as a large tomb than as a church for living men and women to
worship in. Strangely enough, one has none of this feeling when visiting
the Chapel of St. John in the White Tower, which is a place that never
fails to lead the thoughts to another world than this. In St. Peter’s
one is haunted by generations of spectres who have passed from life to
death by violent means, and one has also the fear that Macaulay is
lingering in some corner and moralising on the pathos of it all. Under
the pavement of this church, as was discovered at the 1876 restoration,
the victims from the scaffold, of royal blood or otherwise, were very
hastily and carelessly interred, at no great depth. The bones of Queen
Anne Boleyn were identified and now lie in front of the altar with those
of Queen Katherine Howard, and the Dukes of Northumberland and Somerset.
Mr. Doyne Bell, describing the discovery of the remains of Anne Boleyn,
says, “The forehead and lower jaw were small and especially well formed.
The vertebræ were particularly small, especially one joint, which was
that next to the skull, and they bore witness to the Queen’s ‘lyttel
neck.’” The skeletons of the aged Countess of Salisbury and of the Duke
of Monmouth were also found. A list of the notable people buried in this
church will be seen on the west wall near the door, and here, too, are
preserved portions of the leaden coffin lids of the Scots lords who were
the last victims of the block on Tower Hill. Several very interesting
memorials of those famous in Tower annals will be noticed on the east
and south walls near the chancel. The elaborate tomb to the left, within
the altar rails, is erected in memory of Sir Richard Blount and of Sir


Michael, his son, both Lieutenants of the Tower in their time. These
Blounts died in the middle of the sixteenth century. In the body of the
church Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher, Protector Somerset and Thomas
Cromwell, Strafford and Sir John Eliot, lie buried. One of the earliest
monuments in the building is that lying between the organ and chancel,
commemorating Sir Richard Cholmondeley and his wife Elizabeth. The
recumbent figures are carved in alabaster. Neither the knight nor his
lady was buried in the church. Sir Richard held the position of
Lieutenant of the Tower in Henry VII.’s reign. Lord de Ros, the last
Deputy-Lieutenant of the Tower, and author of a valuable record of its
history, who died in 1874, has a memorial here. It was owing to his care
that the tombstone covering the grave of Talbot Edwards, so nearly
killed when defending the Crown Jewels at the time of the Colonel Blood
onslaught, was replaced. This slab had been doing duty as a paving-stone
on Tower Green. The Communion Plate of St. Peter’s dates from the time
of the first Charles, and the vessels bear the royal monogram, C.R.,
with crown above. They have been used by many a condemned captive just
before the hour appointed for death.