Nestled on the inner grounds of the Tower of London is a darling little stretch of grass called the Tower Green. Today it may strike you as a cozy place to get a fresh air break during your tour of the Tower, but in the Tudor period it played host to a handful of beheadings.
Most of the poor souls who were beheaded at that time met their fate on Tower Hill, just northwest of the Tower of London and a place that today is…well, the Tower Hill tube station. But a few very special prisoners were given the gift of a private execution on the secluded spot within the Tower walls. “Private” was a relative concept, as there could have been a hundred or so people present. The seven “priviledged” victims of a private Tower Green beheading were:
- William, Lord Hastings in 1483 (two years before the Tudor dynasty began)
- Anne Boleyn in 1536
- Margaret, Countess of Salisbury in 1541
- Katherine Howard in 1542
- Jane, Viscountess Rochford (Anne Boleyn’s brother’s wife, and royal busybody who arranged for Kitty Howard to get a bit on the side) in 1542
- Lady Jane Grey in 1554
- Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (a former Liz I fave who became too big for his britches) in 1601
Today a plaque marks the spot where the Famous Seven lost their heads, the only grisly reminder in an otherwise sweet and seemingly-peaceful spot.