Tower Green & Scaffold site

Walk in the footsteps of those condemned to death by order of the state

Walk in the footsteps of those condemned to death by order of the state

When

  • Open daily

Ticketing information

Included in palace admission Buy Tower of London tickets

Famous heads that rolled at the Tower

Execution inside the Tower was a privilege reserved for those of high rank, or for those who had dangerously strong popular support, to keep them away from the gawping crowds. Ten people were beheaded on Tower Green which stretches to the west of the White Tower.

The beheaded queens

The most well known among those executed on or near Tower Green were three former queens of England.

Two of those queens were wives of Henry VIII. Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, was in her early 30's and Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, was barely in her 20's. Both were accused of adultery, but neither may have been guilty.

The third queen to meet her end within the Tower was 16-year-old Lady Jane Grey. She was on the throne for just nine days, and was the innocent pawn in a failed military coup by her father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland.

Expert and blundering executions

Anne Boleyn was executed by the clean stroke of an expert swordsman shipped in from France especially for the occasion. On the day of her execution, she enquired, 'I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck.'

By contrast, Margaret Pole who was another victim of the axe was said to be much less lucky in her final moments. A blundering executioner was said to have ‘hacked her head and shoulders to pieces’.

The execution site memorial

Today, at the very site of these executions on Tower Green you can see a memorial sculpture and quote dedicated to those who were condemned to death by order of the state.

'Gentle visitor pause awhile: where you stand death cut away the light of many days: here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life: may they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage : under there restless skies.'

Brian Catling, creator of the execution site memorial.

Explore what's on

View of the White Tower exterior
Things to see Highlights

Marvel at the imposing White Tower, a magnificent example of Norman architecture at the heart of the Tower of London.

Open daily

Young boy looking towards the imperial state crown in the Crown Jewels exhibition
Things to see Highlights

Prepare to be dazzled by this breathtaking, world famous collection of 23,578 gemstones at the Tower of London.

Open daily

Allow one hour

The Tower of London Deputy Ravenmaster attends to a raven with Tower Green and the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the background.
Highlights Things to see

Meet the famous ravens at the Tower of London and discover why they are known as the guardians of the Tower.

Daily

Browse more history and stories

Henry VIII teddy bear

Henry VIII teddy bear

Henry VIII bear, named after Hampton Court Palace's notorious resident King Henry VIII, in a traditional Tudor costume. Suitable for little princes and princesses aged three years and above. Measures 28cm.

£14.99

Anne Boleyn initial hanging decoration

Anne Boleyn initial hanging decoration

Inspired by Anne Boleyn's famous initial necklace, this luxury hanging decoration features a B initial suspended from faux pearls.

12.99

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