Imprisonment at the Tower exhibition

Within the Beauchamp Tower

Within the Beauchamp Tower

When

  • Open daily

Ticketing information

This permanent exhibition is located in the Beauchamp Tower and included in your admission ticket.

Included in palace admission (members go free) Buy Tower of London tickets

Learn why people ended up as prisoners in the Tower of London, in the very rooms where some of them were held.

'Take him to the Tower!'

The Tower of London's history as a state prison has captured the public's imagination for centuries. For many, the Tower evokes images of grim underground dungeons, but the real experiences of Tower inmates ranged hugely.

While some prisoners languished in gloomy cells, others could move freely within the Tower grounds; their treatment and fate often depended on their crime and social status. Some were even afforded luxuries such as comfortable bedding and servants.

Discover a different side to London’s castle

Visit Imprisonment at the Tower to learn more about life as a prisoner in the Tower of London. Explore the many different stories of people who ended up here, including Elizabeth I, Guy Fawkes, Anne Boleyn and the Krays.

Explore the Beauchamp Tower

The Beauchamp Tower to the west of Tower Green was built in about 1281 during the reign of Edward I, as part of the Tower's inner defensive wall.

The Tower takes its name from Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who was imprisoned here at the end of the 14th century for rebelling against Richard II. The building has been used to house prisoners throughout its history.

See graffiti carved by Tower prisoners

Many prisoners in the Tower had to endure long hours in their cell and some were already condemned to death. Under considerable psychological strain, many inmates suffered from depression and acute boredom.

Some prisoners sought ways to express these feelings, and carving graffiti into the Tower’s walls ensured they would be remembered after death. Many carvings (also known as 'graffito') in the Beauchamp Tower can still be seen today, and give us a permanent connection to the stories and beliefs of the prisoners held here.

The Beauchamp Tower and the Shard
Carving on a wall in the Beauchamp Tower of the Tower of London showing a bear, a lion and a border of flowers.

The people behind some of the Beauchamp Tower graffiti

Robert Dudley (later Earl of Leicester)

A young Robert Dudley, childhood friend of the Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I), was imprisoned in the Tower of London in the aftermath of his father's plot to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne.

Dudley was probably placed in the Beauchamp Tower, alongside his three brothers. Visitors to the upper chamber can see an intricate carving depicting a plant for each man – roses for Ambrose, carnations (known as gillyflowers) for Guildford, oak leaves (robur in Latin) for Robert and honeysuckle for Henry.

Another, much simpler, inscription reading 'Iane' (an older spelling of 'Jane') also survives nearby.

Image: Graffiti on the wall of the Beauchamp Tower depicting a flower for each of the Dudley brothers.

Thomas Abel

Thomas Abel was Chaplain to Katherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII. Henry imprisoned Abel in the Beauchamp Tower after he published a treatise stating that it was unlawful for the King to divorce Queen Katherine.

Graffiti depicting the name 'Thomas' above a bell with an 'A' on the side still survives in the upper chamber of the Beauchamp Tower.

Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel

Elizabeth I imprisoned Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, in the Beauchamp Tower for 10 years. As the leading Catholic peer in the country, he was seen as a threat to national security and was sentenced to death in 1589.

Arundel's name is carved into the wall of the Upper Beauchamp Tower, along with the words, 'The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall get with Christ in the world to come.'

He lived out the next six years under the daily expectation of execution, but eventually died of an infection in 1595.

Hear more stories of imprisonment at the Tower

Learn more about why individual prisoners sought to make their mark in Imprisonment at the Tower — included in your Tower admission ticket.

The Wakefield Tower and the Bloody Tower Arches with visitors walking towards the Torture at the Tower exhibition.
Things to see

Prepare to be shocked by stories of the unfortunate prisoners who were tortured within the walls of the Tower of London.

Open daily

Tower of London

Tower Green and scaffold site with the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula and the Beauchamp Tower in the background
Things to see

Walk in the footsteps of those condemned to execution at the Tower of London on Tower Green and the Scaffold Site.

Open daily

Tower of London

A Yeoman Warder adjusts his medals on his bright red traditional uniform
Tours and talks Highlights

Discover captivating stories of pain and passion, treachery and torture on the Yeoman Warder tours at the Tower of London.

Daily

Tower of London

Beefeater teddy bear - teddy bear dressed in the red uniform of the Tower of London Yeoman.

Beefeater teddy bear

This 'Beefeater' bear is splendidly dressed in a Yeoman Warder uniform, standing ready to guard the Tower of London.

14.99

Raven luxury embroidered hanging decoration on a white background

Raven luxury embroidered hanging decoration

This luxury hand embroidered black raven decoration features one of the famous Tower of London ravens and is embellished with silver metal threads and black sequins

£10.99

Anne Boleyn 'B' initial necklace mug

Anne Boleyn 'B' initial necklace mug

Anne Boleyn's 'B' initial necklace is arguably one of the most famous pieces of Tudor jewellery and is visible in many Anne Boleyn portraits. This exquisite stoneware mug features a unique interpretation of Anne Boleyn's 'B' initial pendant on a dramatic black glaze.

£9.99