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The Tower of London

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The Tower of London

The Tower of London

Photo: Jeff Thomas
The Tower of London, one of the most famous and well-preserved historical buildings in the world, may also be one of the most haunted. This is due, no doubt, to the scores of executions, murders and tortures that have taken place within its walls over the last 1,000 years. Dozens upon dozens of ghost sightings have been reported in and around the Tower. On one winter day in 1957 at 3 a.m., a guard was disturbed by something striking the top of his guardhouse. When he stepped outside to investigate, he saw a shapeless white figure on top of the tower. It was then realized that on that very same date, February 12, Lady Jane Grey was beheaded in 1554.

Perhaps the most well-known ghostly resident of the Tower is the spirit of Ann Boleyn, one of the wives of Henry VIII, who was also beheaded in the Tower in 1536. Her ghost has been spotted on many occasions, sometimes carrying her head, on Tower Green and in the Tower Chapel Royal.

Other ghosts of the Tower include those of Henry VI, Thomas a Becket and Sir Walter Raleigh. One of the most gruesome ghost stories connected with the Tower of London describes death of the Countess of Salisbury. According to one account, "the Countess was sentenced to death in 1541 following her alleged involvement in criminal activities (although it is now widely believed that she was probably innocent). After being sent struggling to the scaffold, she ran from the block and was pursued until she was hacked to death by the axe man." Her execution ceremony has been seen re-enacted by spirits on Tower Green.

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