Retrace Sir Walter Raleigh’s fascinating story at the Tower of London this October half term

A new display and ‘Lost Garden’ open at the Tower of London, to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of the famous adventurer

A new display and ‘Lost Garden’ open at the Tower of London, to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of the famous adventurer

Head to the Tower of London this October half term with a series of exciting events and activities inspired by one of its most famous prisoners, Sir Walter Raleigh.

The adventurer led a notorious life, first as a court favourite of Elizabeth I and later as an enemy of James I. He was imprisoned at the famous fortress on three separate occasions, living at times with his wife and family, until he was eventually executed in Westminster on 29 October 1618. Deprived of freedom, but living in relative comfort, Raleigh used the courtyard outside the infamous ‘Bloody Tower’ to grow plants from the New World and experiment with ingredients for an ‘Elixir of Life’.

From 20 October, in the 400th anniversary year of his death, visitors can explore Raleigh’s ‘Lost Garden’, occupying the same spot where the original apothecary garden once stood. A new permanent display at the Tower of London, the garden features a range of fragrant herbs, fruit and flowers. Take in the varieties, smell the scents and discover how they were used by Raleigh and his wife, Bess Throckmorton to create herbal medicines.  

Green-fingered families can even have a go at concocting their very own elixir using the same herbs seen in Raleigh’s garden, as well as trying on the fashions of the day that Raleigh would have worn during his swashbuckling expeditions.  

From the garden, step into Raleigh’s study in the newly re-presented Bloody Tower, which has been dressed to reveal the reality of “high status” imprisonment. A combination of film, sound, graphics and tactile objects provide a candid insight into Raleigh’s time at the Tower, including his passion for poetry and science.

After swatting up on the explorer’s life, join Sir Walter and his wife Bess on Tower Green as they entertain the audience with stories of their adventures with ‘Walter Raleigh Beat the Block’. Navigate the choices Raleigh made which led to his three periods of imprisonment at the Tower and eventual execution and discover whether you would have fared any better in the circumstances. 

Dominique Driver, Senior Interpretation Manager, Historic Royal Palaces, said:

“A dashing adventurer and some time favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, today Sir Walter Raleigh is remembered for introducing tobacco from the American colonies. However, he also spent a significant amount of his life imprisoned at the Tower of London. The re-presented Bloody Tower and ‘Lost Garden’, explore Raleigh’s fascinating story in new and innovative ways, offering a real chance to experience history right where it happened.”

All activities available from 20 October and included in Tower of London general admission. For more information and to buy tickets visit

Notes to editors

For further information about the Tower of London, please contact Charlie Oven in the Historic Royal Palaces press office:  020 3166 6340 / [email protected]  


Walter Raleigh Beat the Block

20-28 October

Tower of London

Performance times 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00

Each performance lasting 30 minutes

Included in Tower of London general admission


Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland.  We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.  Registered charity number 1068852.

For more information, visit