On any given day, visitors to the Tower of London can vary from several hundred to well into the thousands. Many come seeking to get a glimpse of the Crown Jewels or perhaps they desire to witness the location of where executions took place firsthand. What the latter may not be aware of, is the vast majority of public executions took place outside the walls of the tower, just a few yards away, on a grassy knoll near Tower Hill Underground Station.
Less than two dozen individuals met their maker at the end of the executioner’s axe on Tower Green. These included the two wives of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Catherine Howard, as well as Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen of England for only nine days. As compared to the estimated 125 mortals who lost their lives across the road on Tower Hill. The disparity in numbers is because executions at the Tower of London were reserved for individuals of high rank or who possessed popular support.
At the western edge of a green space known as Trinity Square Gardens, a scaffold was erected from the 15th century to dispatch of individuals who held an air of status and were found guilty of high treason or other offenses against the crown. It operated for nearly four hundred years, with the last public execution taking place in 1747, that of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, a supporter of the Stuart family’s right to the throne.
Today, visitors can find a small cordoned-off area, just to the left of the Grade I-listed Merchant Navy Memorial, First World War Section. Here, you’ll find a list of names, beginning in 1381 and ending in the mid-1700s. These include participants in the following rebellions: Peasants’ Revolt, War of the Roses, English Reformation, as well as the Jacobite Uprising. Thousands of eager onlookers would gather to witness these public displays of execution.
Know Before You Go
Located in Trinity Square Gardens, just a few yards west of Tower Hill Underground Station. Close to the intersection of Tower Hill and Trinity Square.
The memorial can be easy to miss. It is directly to the west of the central war memorial in a small chained area, across Trinity Square from Wetherspoons.
Access is level and it can be viewed at all times.