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Off with his head!

A phrase usually attributed the Queen Elizabeth I, but whether she actually said it is anyone’s guess. As far as public beheadings in the capital were concerned the site used was Tower Hill on the north side of the Tower of London.

Sudbury and de Hales loose their heads

The two earliest record I could find were for a couple of executions that were not state sanctioned. Robert de Hales, the Lord High Treasurer and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Sudbury, were both taken prisoner, tried and executed during the Peasants Revolt in 1381. Following that a long line of people lost their heads there usually for the act of treason. The last such was in 1747 when Simon Fraser, the then Lord Lovat was found guilty of treason for siding with the Jacobite’s and taking part in the battle of Culloden against the English.

Following that the area used for executions was unused for fifty years, when it was remodelled by the English architect Samuel Wyatt in 1797 to create Trinity Square and Trinity Gardens and is generally the same layout as is seen today.

On the east side of Tower Hill is part of impressive remains of the Roma and Medieval wall which once ringed the City.

As you climb the steps to the level of Tower Hill underground station you get a good view of the wall and also the statue of a Roman gentleman. This is purported to be the Roma Governor Trajan who was Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. If Trajan is looking down from the Fields of Elysium, he must be wondering about what’s going on here, as he never visited these shores during his lifetime. To add insult and injury to this noble Roman the statue itself made it’s way to the current location after being found on a scrapyard in Southampton. It was placed here in 1980 as a bequest from P. B. “Tubby” Clayton, the vicar of All Hallows-by-the-Tower which is to the south east of Tower Hill. Not much more is known about the statue other than at some point it lost it’s head and the one it sports now is a recent addition, which seems quite apt for the location.

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