Head to the bottom of the Wakefield Tower where you will find a bloodcurdling exhibition, all about the appallingly gruesome torture at the Tower.
‘Then they put my wrists into iron gauntlets and ordered me to climb two or three wicker steps. My arms were then lifted up and an iron bar was passed through the rings of one gauntlet, then through the staple and rings of the second gauntlet. This done, they fastened the bar with a pin to prevent it slipping and then, removing the wicker steps, they left me hanging by my hands and arms fastened above my head.’ - John Gerard.
Gerard was arrested and imprisoned during a time of religious and political upheaval in Britain. In the 16th and 17th century, torture was used to gather information. Prisoners were tortured and interrogated to give up the names of their conspirators.
Anne Askew was put on the rack in order to get her to reveal the names of protestant sympathisers. The diary of her ordeal was smuggled out of the Tower:
‘Because I lay still and did not cry, my Lord Chancellor and Master Rich took pains to rack me with their own hands till I was nigh dead…’
The scavenger’s daughter
Using the opposite method to a rack, the 'scavenger’s daughter' compressed or contorted the victim instead of stretching them. Two versions exist: the replica in the Wakefield Tower can crush a human body like a nut cracker. The other version, in the Spanish Armouries of the White Tower, is an elaborate set of handcuffs which also grasps the neck and ankles, twisting the victim into an excruciating position.
A new play, written for Hampton Court Palace by Sarah Dickenson and directed by Jo McInnes.
Thursdays to Mondays (excl. 1-5 June)
11:00 & 14:45
Join an expert warden on one of our White Tower tours. Explore the beautiful Chapel of St John the Evangelist and hear tales of famous old residents.
Open daily from 10:45, 12:45 and 14:15