In this final instalment of The Ghosts of the Tower of London, you will learn about fate of Catherine Howard and discover the treachery behind the death of Lady Jane Grey who was Queen of England for only nine days.
The most grisly execution and thus haunting is that of the 70 year old Countess of Salisbury, the last of the Plantagenets. King Henry VIII had her executed for political reasons. The feisty Countess refused to put her head on the block like a common traitor. When her executioner came after her she ran, but was pursued by him, with his axe in hand hacking at her until he had hewn the Countess to death.
Her ghost has been seen reliving this truly gruesome act. Also the shadow of a great axe has been seen falling across the scene of her murder.
At one time the Tower of London was home to the Royal Menagerie. Lions, leopards, bears, birds, monkeys and an elephant, that was a gift from the King of France, were kept on exhibit. On the stroke of midnight in January of 1815 a sentry saw a bear from this menagerie emerge from a doorway. He lunged at it with his bayonet, it passed right through the apparition. The Sentry was later found unconscious, it is said he died of fright within two months of this encounter.
Something unseen and very frightening is in the Salt Tower. This is one of the most haunted areas of the Tower of London complex. This is a very old section, dogs will not enter this ancient building, and ever since one of the Yeoman Warders was nearly throttled by a force unseen, they will not go in the area after nightfall.
In 1864, a soldier whose post was to guard the Queen’s House at the Tower of London, saw a apparition so real, that after ignoring the soldiers three challenges, he charged with all his might at the intruder with his bayonet, only to go straight through the figure.
He was found unconscious at his post and was court-martialled for neglecting his duty. Luckily there were two witnesses who corroborated his story. The soldier was eventually acquitted.
Lady Jane Grey is another tragic story of a young life cut short at the Tower, due to the actions of others the most despicable of who was her own father.
She was the granddaughter of Mary (Henry VIII younger sister) and Louis XII of France. The Duke of Northumberland would lose everything if Henry VIII’s son was to die and Mary, who was Catholic, would become queen.
He and her father arranged her marriage to his son and persuaded her cousin Edward VI to name her his successor in case of his death instead of his two half-sisters. When Edward VI died she was crowned Queen of England, but the supporters of Mary overthrew her.
Her own father got scared and in hopes to save his own skin, left the Tower of London and went to Tower Hill to proclaim Mary I, as the Queen of England, Lady Jane never left the tower; she and her husband were immediately imprisoned and sentenced to death. Queen Mary carried out the execution of Lady Jane’s father-in-law but set both Jane and her husband free.
Her father was involved in a rebellion against Mary I, Lady Jane and her husband were again placed in the tower. Lady Jane watched as her husband was taken to Tower Hill where he was beheaded. She saw his body being carried back to the chapel, after which she was taken to Tower Green where she was beheaded. She was only 17 years old.
Lady Jane Grey’s ghost was last seen by two Guardsmen on February 12, 1957, the 403rd anniversary of her execution. She was described as a "white shape forming itself on the battlements". Her husband, Guildford Dudley, has been seen in Beauchamp Tower weeping.
Catherine Howard escaped from her room in the Tower of London. "She ran down the hallway screaming for help and mercy. She was caught and returned to her room." The next day she was beheaded. Her ghost has been seen sill running down the hallway screaming for help.
Other strange sightings at the Tower of London have been "Phantom funeral carriages" and "A lovely veiled lady that, upon closer look proves to have a black void where her face should be."
This concludes the brief insight to the Ghosts of The Tower of London. I hope this has fired your imagination enough so that you want to learn more about the Towers most GRUESOME PAST.
If you want to read about more haunting tales then visit my Haunted Castles page, where you can find out about the strange happenings at Windsor Castle and read about the Heroic tale of the two Pomeroy Brothers.