The Tower's primary function was to be a royal palace. In the 12th century King Richard the Lionheart fortified the White Tower, including several other buildings and towers, with a wall surrounded by a moat. In the following century, Edward I built an outer curtain wall, completely enclosing the inner wall and thus creating a “double defence.”  He filled in the old moat and built a new one around the new wall. Edward I used this fortification as an armoury and a prison, as well as a place of execution and torture. Thus the phrase "sent to the Tower" took on the meaning “to be imprisoned."  Other buildings on the Tower grounds housed a public records office, a treasury, a mint, an observatory and a zoo. The White Tower became the place where “high status and royal prisoners” were held and often executed on Tower Green directly outside, which was reserved for Royal execution. John Baliol, King of Scotland; David II, King of Scotland; John II, King of France; and Henry VI, of England; were such prisoners. Among those beheaded on the Tower Green for treason were William Hastings in 1483, Anne Boleyn in 1536, Margaret Pole in 1541, Catherine Howard and Jane Boleyn in 1542, Lady Jane Grey in 1554 and Robert Devereux in 1601. Ironically a German spy Josef Jakobs was the last person to executed on Tower Green, but not beheaded, he was instead shot at the onset of World War II, on August 15, 1941. The ghost of Anne Boleyn (second wife of King Henry VIII) is said to often walk around the White Tower carrying her head under her arm. ‘In 1864 a sentry is said to have challenged a headless figure thought to be that of Ann Boleyn, his bayonet passed straight through her and he fainted in shock.’ Another sentry heard noises coming from within the locked empty Royal Chapel in the White Tower. ‘He climbed a ladder to peer down into the chapel, and witnessed a procession of people in ancient dress, with an elegant woman walking in front of them. He recognized the slender figure as that of Ann Boleyn from portraits.’ Just the name ‘Bloody Tower,’ conjures up all manner of gruesome images, is home to the most poignant and darkest of shades that drift through this dreadful fortress. For in this tower are the  prison cells and torture chambers used to torment its residents. Outside, on a hill named Tower Hill, served as the place for the public execution of traitors and criminals to the crowns. When Edward IV died suddenly in April 1483, his twelve year old son was destined to succeed him as Edward V. However, before his coronation could take place, both he and his younger brother, Richard, had been declared illegitimate by Parliament and it was their uncle, the Duke of Gloucester who ascended the throne as Richard III. The boys, meanwhile, had been sent to the Tower of London, ostensibly in preparation for Edward’s Coronation, and were often seen playing happily around the grounds. But then, around June 1483, they mysteriously vanished, and were never seen alive again. It was always assumed, that they had been murdered on Richard’s instructions and their bodies buried, somewhere within the grounds of The Tower. When two skeletons were uncovered beneath a staircase of the White Tower in 1674, they were presumed to be the remains of the two little princes and afforded Royal burial in Westminster Abbey. The whimpering wraiths of the two children, dressed in white nightgowns, and clutching each other in terror have frequently been seen in the dimly lit rooms of their imprisonment. Witnesses are moved to pity and long to reach out and console the pathetic spectres. But, should they do so, the trembling revenants back slowly against the wall and fade into the fabric. According to one story, guards in the late 15th century, who were passing the stair in the Bloody Tower, spotted the shadows of two small figures gliding down the stairs. These figures were identified as the ghosts of the two princes. In 1674 workmen found a chest that contained the skeletons of two young children, they were thought to be the remains of the princes, and were given a Royal burial in Westminster Abbey. Sir Walter Raleigh is said to wander the tower grounds, much as he did when he was imprisoned here. In 1983, a Yeoman Guard on duty in the Bloody Tower believed he saw him wandering from room to room. Then a year later, the same apparition was seen in the same area by a different guard, however it is unclear whether it was in same fashion as the previous sighting, making difficult to tell if was an ‘intelligent’ haunting, or ‘residual.’ The Salts Tower is another hot spot of paranormal activity, and many of the castle’s security dogs won’t enter it. Lady Jane Grey, ‘the 9-day queen,’ is said to appear near the Salts Tower on the anniversary of her death (February 12th.)  The spirits  have been also been reported re-enacting the death of Margaret Pole, the Countess of Salisbury. She had refused to place her head on the executioner’s chopping block like a commoner and ran off, only to be chased around the Tower Greens by the executioner, while swinging his ax at her. Both she and her executioner have been seen near the spot where she was eventually hacked to death. Various other apparitions have been seen as if announcing their demise within the walls of the Tower’s bloody past. The ghost of Lord Northumberland, executed in 1553 is seen frequently, as is the ghost of a woman called ‘the gray lady,’ dressed in black mourning attire, with just a “black void” where her face should be. However, it’s not only sightings of people being reported, but animals as well. In January 1815, around midnight, a sentry reported seeing a large bear emerge from a doorway. He ‘lunged at it with his bayonet, to no avail.’  The sentry is said to have died a few months later, the doctor proclaiming the event had weakened his heart from the fright. Whether you believe these tales or not of Tower of London, many lean to. Especially when they hear the wild screams of Guy Fawkes being tortured echoing through the halls at night. Regardless, the tales only adds to the magnificence of this Royal building through it’s bloody history.
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