When

  • Open daily

Ticketing info

Included in palace admission

Experiencing torture at the Tower

Head to the bottom of the Wakefield Tower where you will find a bloodcurdling exhibition, all about the appallingly gruesome torture at the Tower.

 

Horrific torture instruments

The manacles

‘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.

The racks

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.

 

It was a vast place and every device and instrument of human torture was there.

Jesuit prisoners John Gerard

Explore what's on

Dare you visit the Tower at night and take one of our Twilight Tours? Discover secrets of the Tower's history with exclusive after-hours access.

Selected dates

Tower of London

Come and hear original Christmas music from Tudor to Victorian eras performed by leading specialists

16 December - 17 December 2017

Hampton Court Palace
Wilson's Passage, looking south. The walls on either side of the passage are decorated with back vitrified bricks laid in diagonal patterns.

Come along and enjoy a fascinating talk by Nicola Tallis on her newest book, Elizabeth's Rival: The Tumultuous Tale of Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester

06 November 2017

Hampton Court Palace

Doors open at 13:45 for a 14:00 start

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