The Myths and Legends Surrounding London’s Infamous Tower Of London

If you’ve booked some accommodation in Bayswater, visiting the Tower of London has to be one of the best attractions on offer. The Hyde Park International Hotel offers London Weekend Packages that include a trip to one of the city’s greatest structures, The Tower of London. The Tower is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Originally constructed in 1078 you can see why there is plenty of scope for a classic ghost story, but The Tower is actually involved in many other fascinating mysteries, some of which don’t even involve ghosts! There have been many, many additions since its construction and how you will find it today, but the stories persist. It has been the home to some of our nation’s greatest villains like Guy Fawkes, Rudolph Hess, and Josef Jakobs who was the last person to be executed on site in 1941, so you can see why it has been captivating to tourists for hundreds of years. Especially as it’s easily accessible from anywhere in London thanks to its central location and the proximity of the Tower Hill tube station. To access the Tower from Hyde Park International London you simply have to hop on the Circle Line at Bayswater, and stay on board until you reach Tower Hill. It’s really that simple. Anyway, we are going to take a look at some of the best, scariest and most peculiar stories that have become synonymous with London’s crowning jewel.

The Black Ravens of The Tower

This is perhaps the most well known story attributed to The Tower. As it is told, in the early 1700s John Flamsteed the King’s ‘astronomical observer’ complained to King Charles II that the ravens were obstructing the view from his observatory atop the tower. King Charles immediately ordered the destruction of every raven at The Tower, however he was swiftly advised against this action. He was told by an unknown source that if he removed the black pests then a great tragedy would befall The Tower, and London itself would fall. King Charles decreed that from this moment on there must be 6 resident ravens in the tower at all times. The tradition gained so much momentum that nearly 400 years later, we are still too afraid to remove the birds from their royal home,The Tower even employs a Ravenmaster to care for the birds! 

The Cursed Koh-i-Noor Diamond

The Tower of London has acted under many guises over the years; an armory, the Royal Mint, sumptuous royal apartments and even a King’s menagerie. The Tower was such a symbol of power that other nations attempted their own versions, and peasants were afraid to even look at the building for fear of the wrath of the elite. So of course the perfect palace needed the perfect jewel, to crown its glory, and cement its legacy. The massive 104 carat Koh-i-Noor diamond heralds from the mines of India, sifted from the sand a thousand years ago. One of the world’s largest known diamonds is sure to attract attention wherever it goes, but the blood stained nature of the Koh-Noor gem is what makes it so fascinating. According to the legend, the wearer or owner will have violence in their future. Wherever the diamond goes, a trail of blood seems to follow. There is evidence that the diamond is what led to a deposed Indian King being coronated with a crown of molten gold (game of thrones anyone?), and even to a father blinding his son in order to be the owner of the fabled jewel. It is noted as having moved around the middle east during its tumultuous life, finally attracting the attention of Our Royals during their conquest of India. The gem inspires such fear, especially after the discovery of a 14th century scroll that stated “He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity”. Bone chilling indeed. Aside from the similarities to a certain ‘Elder Wand’ in a certain wizarding world, there aren’t many stories with such a mysticism attached to them. To the point where even today, only female members of the royal family will wear the precious stone. Just to be sure.     

Ghostly Figures in the Night

Lots of old buildings have ghost stories attached to them, however the age of the Tower of London combined with the status of some of its victims are what sets it apart. A dungeon-come-palace, home to the Royal family’s most prized possessions, and its greatest enemies (sometimes at the same time), we were bound to end up with some pretty impressive ghosts. 

The ‘bloody tower’ was the location of the ‘murdered princes’, rumoured to be carried out by King Richard III in 1483, and on occasion people have reported seeing two terrified children in white night gowns. However, if you step forward to help them, they simply disappear into a wall not to be seen again. 

Anne Boleyn is likely the most high profile apparition at the Tower. She was beheaded by her husband, Henry VIII in 1536 on the lawn of the Tower, and her headless body has been seen leading a procession of knights and monks through the grounds with her head tucked under her arm!

The most popular ghost however, is that of Guy Fawkes. The man that has become a part of our culture, whos execution we celebrate every year on November 5th, can still be heard screaming from the torture chambers beneath the palace. Can you hear his screams echoing around the castle walls?  

Crazy for The Krays 

One thing people do not realize is that the tower was actually used as a prison well into the 20th century. And even more interestingly, the notorious Kray Twins were amongst the last prisoners to be held on site. Although, they were not held at The Tower for the numerous crimes that made them famous; but instead for attempting to ditch out on service after being called up to serve in the Royal Fusiliers. They were held for a couple of days in the prison, then moved on. But if you ask the Beefeaters at the tower, they will tell you that the twins’ days were numbered after visiting the foreboding, gloomy cells of The Tower. 

All these bone-chilling stories and ghost sightings are sure to have an effect on your constitution so make sure you eat your fill of the best complimentary breakfast Hyde Park, London has to offer before you head out for the day. And make sure you leave the ghosts in the Tower with the ravens at the end of your day. We don’t need that drama in the outside world!

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