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Tower Green is a space within the Tower of Londonmarker where two English Queens consort and five other British nobles were executed by beheading. The Tower Green is located on a space south of the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vinculamarker. Beheading in the privacy of the Tower Green was considered a privilege of rank; the executed were spared insults from jeering crowds, and the monarch was spared bad publicity. Other prisoners in the Tower were executed in public on Tower Hillmarker just outside the fortress, or at Tyburnmarker on the other side of the city. In the middle of the Green is a small square plot paved with granite, which shows the site on which stood the scaffold on which private executions took place. The granite paving was specially created by order of Queen Victoria.

History

During the Middle Ages, the area was used as a burial ground. As a result of relaying the 19th century granite cobblestones, shallow excavations of the foundations revealed remains of a building that sat on that site. Historic plans of the Tower of London show a building at the site of the Tower Green. It was demolished in 1684, but was rebuilt in 1685. It was removed once again soon thereafter. It appears that the building was used at the time as a guardhouse for the predecessors of the Yeomen Warders. The executions at the Tower Green were done inside this building to maintain the privacy of the nobles.

Executions

The following nobles are known to have been executed on the Tower Green:

  1. William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings, by order of the Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in 1483.
  2. Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, 19 May, 1536.
  3. Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty on 27 May 1541.
  4. Queen Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, by a Bill of attainder on 13 February 1542.
  5. Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford, by order of Henry VIII on 13 February 1542.
  6. Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen, wife of Lord Guilford Dudley, by order of a special commission for High treason, on 12 February 1554.
  7. Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex for treason on 25 February 1601.


Each of these individuals were all beheaded with an axe save for Anne Boleyn who was beheaded with a sword. The bodies of all seven were buried in the Chapel of St. Peter.

References




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