There’s no question that London is one of the most haunted places in the world, a subject we have covered in past articles. Perhaps of all places in London, the Tower of London ranks as the most haunted of all. Part of the city since William the Conqueror had it built in the 1080s, it has alternately been a royal residence, prison, military stronghold, and museum. Many a famous Brit a grisly end within the Tower’s walls, which mean there are plenty of ghosts lurking about when the sun goes down. We’ve identified ten of the more famous and interesting ghosts for your frightful consideration.
One of the Tower of London’s more famous prisoners, Anne Boleyn, was King Henry VIII’s second wife and the first one he had killed. After she also failed to provide Henry with a male heir, he had her convicted on charges of adultery and treason. She was held and executed at the Tower, and her ghost has been spotted at her execution site in Green Tower as well as St. Peter’s Chapel.
Arbella Stewart was a relative of both Queen Elizabeth I and King James VI of Scotland, a prospect that made her a potential heir for the English throne and threat to James’s claim to that throne. After James became King James I of England, he had Arbella and her husband imprisoned in the Tower of London. Arbella fell ill during confinement and died. Her ghost has been spotted in Queen’s House and weeping on the Tower grounds.
From about the 13th Century through the 19th, the Tower of London had its own little zoo within the walls, and it seems some of the animals never left. During the Victorian era, Keeper of the Crown Jewels Edmund Lenthal Swifte reported that his guards had an encounter with a ghostly bear in Martin Tower that supposedly scared the guard to death.
King Henry VI
One of the many victims of the War of the Roses, King Henry VI was imprisoned in the Tower of London by the Lancasters when King Edward IV came to power during the conflict. Henry was reportedly stabbed to death while praying in Wakefield Tower, and it is believed that his ghost haunts that spot today.
One of the most infamous terrorists in Britain’s history, Guy Fawkes, was one of several men who attempted to blow up Parliament before he was discovered keeping watch over the gunpowder. Fawkes was held at the Tower and tortured for information on his co-conspirators before his later execution. It’s believed that his screams can still be heard from the Council Chambers of the White Tower.
Princes in the Tower
King Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, were young boys held in the Tower for their “protection” by their uncle, King Richard III, before mysteriously disappearing. Since their disappearance, two little boys dressed in nightshirts and holding hands have been spotted in the White Tower or playing on the battlements, with ghostly childish giggling heard in the halls.
Lady Jane Grey
Also known as the “Nine Days Queen,” Lady Jane Grey claimed the right of succession after the death of King Edward VI, but as the nickname would imply, she didn’t get to enjoy the throne for long. King Henry VIII’s elder daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, had their status as heirs restored, and Mary had Jane imprisoned in the Tower of London and later executed. Jane’s ghost is said to walk the battlements of the Tower while her also-executed husband, Lord Guilford Dudley, is spotted weeping in Beauchamp Tower.
Some ghosts linger in your peripheral vision, leading you to think someone is in the room with you until you turn and see no one. The White Woman is one such spirit, and many people in the White Tower have spotted her and picked up the overwhelming scent of her perfume. No one knew who this ghost is since no one has ever caught a full vision of her.
Sir Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was certainly no stranger to the Tower of London, having been imprisoned there first for marrying one of Queen Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting without the Queen’s permission and later for treason for his role in the Main Plot against her successor, King James I. He was executed in the Old Palace Yard of the Palace of Westminster, and his ghost haunts the Bloody Tower where he was imprisoned as well as the battlements that are now known as “Raleigh’s Walk.”
King Henry VIII’s Armor
One of the most popular exhibits in the Tower of London, a full suit of armor belonging to King Henry VIII may be more than it appears. Several guards patrolling the Tower where the armor is displayed have reported a crushing feeling. This reportedly happened in whatever room the armor was in, leading to a belief that the armor itself could be haunted by a malevolent spirit.