The Tower of London is one of the most haunted places in Britain. Its grey walls have witnessed a long history of grim and horrifying events since it was constructed by William the Conqueror in 1078. Besides being a Royal Palace for hundreds of years, it is more famous for being a place of sinister deeds, of suffering, imprisonment, torture and execution.
Today, the grim building by the Thames is a tourist attraction. Millions of visitors want to hear the stories of tragedy and torment. If these walls could speak, they could tell you some of the most gruesome stories you have ever heard. It is no surprise that the ghosts of many that suffered here still walk inside its walls and haunt the grounds of the Tower of London. Here, we are going to present you two scary stories from the Tower of London.
The ‘White Lady’ of the White Tower
The White Tower is the oldest building inside The Tower and literally towers above all the surrounding buildings. Inside, you can walk through its galleries and admire the massive collection of armour, and climb the winding stone stairs from one corridor to another. The floorboards creak and when all the visitors have gone and night falls, the shadows in the galleries start to move.
You do not want to be here alone at night. For some of the Custody Guards that work here however, this is part of the job. They have encountered many ghostly presences here. One of them signals her arrival at the entrance to St John’s Chapel. When you visit The White Tower, stop there for a moment and breathe in the air. Do you smell the pungent perfume? If you do, you should better leave quickly. For this is the cheap perfume of the ‘White Lady’, who silently drifts around the rooms. Many a guard has smelt the aroma and knew he should leave right away.
If you do not believe me, take a look from the outside at one of the windows of that corridor next time you visit The Tower. Do you see the lady waving whenever a group of children is nearby? This is the wraith of the ‘White Lady’ of the White Tower.
Situated at the edge of the Thames, this is the gate through which many famous figures from English history passed on their way to The Tower of London. However, people who came through “Traitor’s Gate” did not come as guests, but only to be imprisoned or executed.
Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Guy Fawkes and Sir Walter Raleigh all passed through, some of them to spend the rest of their (short) lives in suffering here.
It was in 1240 that King Henry III ordered that a watergate was to be constructed to defend the Tower to the riverside. The fortress stood on marshland, so it was difficult to settle the foundations and the edifice collapsed into the river two times. Both of these collapses happened on St George’s Day. When confronted with their failure, the builders explained to King Henry that the ghost of Thomas à Becket had appeared both times and with his crosier had demolished the almost complete construction. This supernatural explanation frightened Henry, for it was his grandfather Henry II, who had ordered the murder of the cleric. To pacify the spectre, Henry III had a chapel dedicated to St Thomas built on the construction site. Miraculously, the structure could then be completed and still stands after more than 700 years.
Traitor’s Gate lies right underneath St Thomas’s Tower. Standing on the outside, imagine the many kings, queens, lords, ladies, clerics and commoners who would spend their last moments outside of these walls on the same spot where you are standing now. Being inside, imagine them looking out once more before the gate was closed and they entered the grim fortress, never to leave again. Do you feel overwhelmed by heavy memories? Do the long shadows, as the evening falls, seem to form into shapes and move? Yes, I think so. It is time for you to leave.
Haunted London: The Tower of London
I hope you enjoyed these ghostly tales. The Tower of London is the last station of my Self-Guided Walk “Strange Tales from the River Thames: A Self-Guided Walk Along The Southbank“. You can buy it in my shop.
I am collecting your London horror stories. Now it’s up to you. Do you have any ghost stories that you want to share? Have you encountered any ghosts in London? Is there any London-related ghost sighting that you want to mention?
Send me a message or leave your story in the comments below. I might turn them into another video or blog. If you go to these haunted places and meet a ghost or two, drop me a line. Or let me know and we can visit these sites together.
Jack the Ripper: A Self-Guided Walk (Extended)€12,00
Unheimliches London: Die Geister der City€10,00
Let’s All Go Down The Strand (Deutsch) – Ein Londoner West End Reiseführer von The Strand nach Covent Garden€10,00
Haunted London: Ghosts of London€10,00
Sonderbare Geschichten von der Themse: Ein Spaziergang entlang der South Bank€10,00
Greenwich: Ein Reiseführer zum “Place of time”€10,00
Greenwich: A walk to the place of time€10,00
Curious London: A walk along Fleet Street and Temple€10,00
Geheimnisvolles London: Das mysteriöse Clerkenwell€10,00
Title photo: Philipp Röttgers