Picture © Copyright Graham Horn and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence – geograph.org.uk
Picture © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence – geograph.org.uk
From Wikipedia: The Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison since at least 1100, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.
Many prisoners of the Tudors entered the Tower of London through the Traitors’ Gate. The gate was built by Edward I, to provide a water gate entrance to the Tower, part of St. Thomas’s Tower, which was designed to provide additional accommodation for the royal family.
The name Traitors’ Gate has been used since the early seventeenth century, prisoners were brought by barge along the Thames, passing under London Bridge, where the heads of recently executed prisoners were displayed on pikes. Queen Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas More, Queen Catherine Howard, all entered the Tower by Traitors’ Gate.
I wrote about the Tower of London and Traitor’s Gate in my novel “Dark Lord”, which is the second book in the Dark Birthright Trilogy, a saga of old Scotland. Can you imagine being brought through traitor’s gate to await your fate in the Tower of London?
Here is an excerpt from Dark Lord:
The Tower wasn’t a single building. Rather, it was a complex of towers and outbuildings located on the north bank of the River Thames. Surrounded by a moat and high walls, it served as a fortress, royal residence, and prison. It was also a place of torture and execution, an armory, and a menagerie of rare animals. The complex was separated from the eastern edge of the city by an open space known as ‘Tower Hill’. Prisoners were given accommodations according to their status in life. A peasant found circumstances quite deplorable.
Robert MacNeil had been brought to this place over a month ago. He’d arrived through the water entrance to the Tower, referred to as ‘Traitor’s Gate’, named so because prisoners accused of treason such as Sir Thomas More passed through it. After traversing St. Thomas’ Tower, he was taken to the bowels of the Salt Tower, where he was manacled and locked away. So far, he hadn’t been tortured. It was a frightening prospect for a fisherman.
Robert stared at his hands. The iron cuffs were tight, on the verge of cutting off circulation. The cell was dirty and infested with a variety of vermin. The chamber pot overflowed in the corner. His belly ached from the scarcity of food. For the first few weeks he’d existed on a thin gruel, the color of sickly vomit. Then for some reason the food got better. A crust of bread and a piece of cheese certainly made a difference. Even so, Robert was growing thin and weak…
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