Meet the prisoners

Meet the prisoners

A prisoner and Gaoler in the cells

Who were the Tower's most famous prisoners? Why were they here? When were they imprisoned? What happened to them?

Prisoners at the Tower

Ranulf Flambard

The first prisoner at the Tower was Ranulf Flambard. In 1100, as Bishop of Durham, he was found guilty of extortion. He escaped from the White Tower by shinning down a rope that was smuggled into his cell in a wine casket.

John Balliol

A Scottish King, he was captured by Edward I and imprisoned at the Tower in 1296 for three years. Treated well and even allowed to go hunting, John was released as part of a truce and spent the rest of his life in France.

George, Duke of Clarence

Arrested for plotting against his brother Edward IV, George was found guilty of treason and imprisoned at the Tower in 1477. He was executed in secret, with rumours that he had been drowned in a butt of malmsey.

The Princes in the Tower

12-year-old Edward V and his younger brother Richard were sent to the Tower by their uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. By July 1483 they were declared illegitimate and the Duke was crowned King Richard III. The princes were never seen again.

Anne Boleyn

The second wife of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn was arrested on 2 May 1536 and accused of adultery and incest by a king anxious to remarry. On 19 May she was beheaded within the walls of the Tower.

Anne Askew

Anne Askew was a Protestant reformer charged with heresy on 28 June 1546. She was tortured at the Tower in an attempt to force her to name other Protestants, before being burned at the stake in Smithfield on 16 July.

Lady Jane Grey

Queen for just nine days, Lady Jane Grey was found guilty of high treason and sent to the Tower. On 12 February 1554 she watched her husband go to his death before she too was beheaded on Tower Green, aged just 16.

Guide to the Tower's prisoners

Flick through our handy guide to the prisoners of the Tower, featuring nine of the Tower's most famous prisoners. Please note: To view this slideshow, you will need Javascript enabled and Adobe Flash Player 8 (or above).

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