The Tower of London has a long and bloody history, and of course many ghostly legends are associated with the Tower. This is due, no doubt, to the scores of executions, murders and tortures that have taken place within its walls over the last 1,000 years. Dozens upon dozens of ghost sightings have been reported in and around the Tower.
In 1483, two young princes were murdered in the Tower, and their ghosts were reported to have haunted the tower until the year 1674, when their bones were found and buried in a proper ceremony.
The most famous and most often reported ghost in the Tower is Anne Boleyn. She was beheaded by her husband, Henry VIII, in 1536. Other famous ghosts are Thomas A. Becket who struck down the Traitor’s Gate with a crucifix, witnessed by a priest. People have also seen 12-year-old King Edward V and his 9-year-old brother Richard Duke of York in the Bloody Tower still wearing the white gowns they were imprisoned in, and even the apparition of a bear.
One of the most gruesome ghost stories connected with the Tower of London describes death of the Countess of Salisbury. According to one account, “the Countess was sentenced to death in 1541 following her alleged involvement in criminal activities (although it is now widely believed that she was probably innocent). After being sent struggling to the scaffold, she ran from the block and was pursued until she was hacked to death by the axe man.” Her execution ceremony has been seen re-enacted by spirits on Tower Green.
In 1816, a palace guard who was on duty spied the bear. Not realizing he was facing an apparition, the guard attempted to lunge at the creature with his bayonet. The guard reportedly later died of shock.
In 1864, a soldier saw a ghost and again attempted to use his bayonet. The soldier fainted when he realized his antagonist was a ghost, and was later court -martialed for neglecting his duties (hard to guard the castle when you’re fainted dead away). However, the charges against the soldier were dropped when two witnesses came forward to support the soldier’s ghost story.
On one winter day in 1957 at 3 a.m., a guard was disturbed by something striking the top of his guardhouse. When he stepped outside to investigate, he saw a shapeless white figure on top of the tower. It was then realized that on that very same date, February 12, Lady Jane Grey was beheaded in 1554.