ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Tower of London Part 2.

Updated on October 26, 2015


The White Tower still has a magnificent collection of early weapons, even though a large amount of weaponry was transferred to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds in 1996. On display in the tower are many pikes, halberds, maces, axes, and a huge display of horse armour. Henry 8th's suit of armour is on show as well as armour belonging to Charles 1st, Charles 2nd, and James 2nd. There is also a suit of armour believed to be the largest in the world which would fit a man of 6 foot 9 inches, and a tiny suit of armour made for a person under 3 feet tall.

Henry 8th had all the oldest, medieval collection of arms scrapped and the armouries re-stocked with modern weapons, including his own personal collection. He also had a display called The Line of Kings, built at Greenwich and later moved to the White Tower, where a series of life-sized monarchs and some of their knights, in full armour, mounted on their horses were a tremendous tourist attraction. These life- sized statues were added to over the centuries and the last king to be displayed was George 2nd after his death in 1760.

All the armaments captured in the many wars with France were also stored in the tower. As well as captured arms and armaments, ordnance was being manufactured in the tower and a certain Master Walter the Smith is recorded as making ordnance for Edward 3rd for use at the battle of Crecy in 1346. Gunpowder was also being manufactured at the tower for this battle and before the turn of the century the stores of bows and arrows was decreasing and firearms and canon were starting to be stockpiled.

The Board of Ordnance gradually took over the White Tower, its function being to arm Britain's Armies, and also for the design and testing of new weapons. As the Commonwealth expanded more and more, arms and armaments from all over the world started arriving at the tower. There was even a full suit of armour for an elephant sent from India. New armouries had to be built inside the tower grounds to accommodate the thousands of pieces being collected.

As the collection grew over the centuries, new homes had to be found for the exhibits and in 1988 the whole of the artillery on display was moved to Portsmouth. This site at Fort Nelson is now the home of the national collection of artillery. The Royal Armouries in Leeds now display some of the ancient weapons in the collection, but the Tower still holds a fantastic display which should be visited if at all possible when in London.

Early entry to White Tower


Forty eight warrants for torture were issued and the punishments carried out during the Tudor and Stuart period. Eleven were to extract information on robberies, fourteen prisoners were tortured for sedition, nine for treason and nine for 'religious matters.'

The Spanish Armoury collection of instruments of torture contains thumbscrews, spiked collars and bibos, which were iron gauntlets designed to crush the fingers. The rack was a standard torture method where a victim's body was stretched using levers attached to horizontal cogs and gears on a table. Pressure was applied until the victim's joints parted with a crack. Two people generally conducted the torture. One to ask the questions and the other to apply the torture. The rack was known as the Duke of Exeter's Daughter as it was invented by John Holland, Duke of Exeter when he was constable of the tower.

The Scavenger's Daughter was invented by a Lieutenant of the tower, Leonard Skeffington. This machine compressed the victim rather than stretched them. It consisted of a circular plate of steel which the prisoner knelt on with his head down low and his arms close to his sides. Either side of the plate, I assume one under and one above the plate, were curved steel bars shaped like a horseshoe. The scews could be turned and the jaws of the horseshoe slowly closed, forcing the man's back downwards and crushing the internal organs.

Manacles were not so vicious as the Scavenger or the rack as the victim could be made to suffer for hours at a time. The manacles were fixed to a wall well above the height of a man and the man's arms were raised above his head. Chains from the manacles were then fixed to his gauntlets and he was allowed to dangle free when the steps he stood on were removed. One victim later reported that all his blood seemed to flow up into his arms and hands and it felt like it was oozing out of his fingers and his pores, while excruciating pain wracked his chest and belly. He fainted many times during the day he was hung and each time he was revived to prolong his pain.


The first beheading was of William Hastings, Edward 4th's former Lord Chancellor on a charge of treason. The executions took place on Tower Green, a lawn in front of the White Tower.

During Henry 8th's reign, beheadings were commonplace. Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher both died for refusing to acknowledge Henry as head of the Church of England. Thomas Cromwell lost his head for bungling Henry's marriage to Ann of Cleves and the country's reconcilliation with Europe. Henry's wife, Ann Bolyn along with the four men who were accused of being her lovers were all beheaded on the same day. The Countess of Salisbury was beheaded for treason, but after the first stroke of the axe, she jumped up and ran but the executioner followed, hacking at her 11 times until she succumbed. Catherine Howard, Henry's adored and beautiful wife was accused of having affairs and reluctantly Henry had her executed as well. Lady Jane Grey, who took the throne on the death of Henry's son Edward, reigned for nine days before being ousted by Mary 1st. Jane was also beheaded along with her husband. Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the tower on three occasionsbefore finally being beheaded for treason in 1618.

In modern times the method of execution was brought up to date and prisoners were either hanged or shot. During the First World War spies were tried in the tower and then shot. Eleven spies were shot in 1916.

The last person to be put to death in the tower was Josef Jakobs for offences under the treachery act. He was shot on 15th August 1941.

Part 3 of The Tower.

Barracks inside Tower


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      7 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks Cloverleaf. Part 3. will be up soon.

    • Cloverleaf profile image


      7 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi scarytaff,

      It gives me goosebumps just thinking about the torture chambers. Well done on an interesting and informative hub! Voting up,


    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      7 years ago from South Wales

      I agree, mirror_eyes. Maybe there wouldn't be so many baddies about? Thanks for commenting.

    • mirror_eyes profile image


      7 years ago from north Texas

      Very interesting, thank you. I can't imagine how our society would be different today, if we still had "warrants to torture"...!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)