Torture at the Tower of London

Its one of the most famous landmarks in British history, the Tower of London is a place full of rich diverse history. Some of it good and some of it, not quite so much. Let’s take a look at the towers darker past.

Anyone who has visited will know that the building was used as a prison. One of its most famous residents being Guy Fawkes, one of the men found guilty for the gunpowder plot.

Fawkes was tortured at the tower possibly by use of the rack, manacles or possibly even both. These methods probably explain the huge change in his hand writing when he finally wrote a confession.

Historical records show 48 names of people who were tortured within the tower. Seems relatively low but torture only took place at the tower for a short period between the 15th and 16th century.

But prisoners, there were plenty, the first dating back to 1101 The Bishop of Durham. Having said that, he was also the first to escape using rope that was smuggled in within wine.

There have been some very famous inmates over the years including Princess Elizabeth in 1554. She was imprisoned after the execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn. She was later released and became Queen.

Sir Walter Raleigh was also locked up for a staggering 13 years, although he was given some benefits. During the times of the Tudors there were several executions including Boleyn, Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell who were close advisors or King Henry VIII.

With such a rich bloody past, its no shock that the tower also claims residents of a ghostly nature including Henry VIII, Cromwell and Boleyn.

Torture…Britain’s devious past!

It may be in the past, but it certainly had a big impact! The torture methods used back in British history give us an insight into our bloody past.

This Saturday see’s the return of our Witchcraft, Torture and Execution Tour in Southampton, a look back at some of the famous and chilling accounts from around the city and around Britain.

But why was torture used? Simply put, it was either a form of punishment or a way of getting information out of people.

The problem was that in a lot of situations, those tortured were most likely to be innocent!

The Iron maiden was one of the methods used. A metal chamber with holes in. The victim would be locked inside with metal poles used to prod. That was until the executor was satisfied that the confession was legitimate. The poles would be prodded into the victims flesh.

One of the most commonly used forms of torture was known as flogging. The method included an executor whipping the victim with leather until they either owned up or passed out. In some circumstances, the victim flogged themselves to eliminate any sins!

But some torture methods were classed as less violent than others. Take the ‘Thumb screw’ for example. The name gives away exactly what this included, drilling a screw into the victims thumb and turning! ouch!

Sound bad enough? Enter the cage! Just big enough to squash someone inside to leave them there without food or water. Sometimes this was done publicly, but the results were the same, confess or die!

Some methods even included live animals….more precisely, rats! Imagine having rats placed on your stomach, a pot over the top with heat applied! The theory, the rats to panic and dig through the persons stomach to escape…need we say any more?

Now to the next one. Fan of Game of thrones? Like idea of sitting on the iron throne?…Great right? Not if you were sat on the iron chair! You would be strapped down, but as the straps were tightened, needles would go further and further into the skin!

But we have saved the best til last……if such thing existed? The Judas cradle. Possibly one of the most bloody forms of torture. So what exactly was this?

You probably wished you never asked, but hey here is what happened. This torture technique involved a sharp spike going into the anus or vagina. Pressure would be added to basically rip the victim apart. Pressure was usually added using weights.

Find out more about Britain’s bloody past on our Witchcraft, Torture and Execution Tour.