The Execution Site
Three English queens Anne Boleyn (1536), Lady Jane Grey (1554) and Catherine Howard (1542) were beheaded here. These were private executions avoiding the gaze of the spectators who came to watch beheadings on Tower Hill. All three queens were treated with respect right up until the end and, for Anne Boleyn’s execution, an expert swordsman was imported from France to make sure her death was quick.
The memorial also commemorates the death of seven others. William, Lord Hastings who was executed by the Protector, Richard Duke of Gloucester, in 1483. Jane Boleyn, the sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn, executed alongside Catherine Howard. The 70-year-old Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, executed under Henry VIII’s orders and hacked to death by a blundering executioner. Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, who had been Elizabeth I’s favourite before falling from grace and three members of the Black Watch regiment shot for mutiny in 1743.