Traitors Gate

The Tower of London
 

Traitors Gate
The History of the Tower of London is bloody and cruel and Traitor's Gate has its part to play in its story. The water-gate under St Thomas's Tower has been known for over 400 years as 'Traitors' Gate' because of the number of prisoners, accused of treason, who have passed through it. Unfortunate and important state prisoners were committed to the Tower of London through the River Thames entrance to the Tower of London called Traitors Gate. The journey of these prisoners was made by barge along the River Thames. Often their journey would take them past London Bridge where the heads of recently executed traitors were displayed on the roof of the stone gate house.

 
 
 
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The heads were placed on spikes, attached to poles and displayed on the Bridge. The young and tragic Catherine Howard had to pass the gruesome sight of the head of her lover Thomas Culpepper on her journey to the Tower of London and Traitors Gate. This grisly practice continued until around 1678.  

Traitors Gate

Traitors Gate

  • Information & Facts about the Traitors Gate
  • Who built the Traitors Gate in the great Tower of London?
  • Information & Facts about when the prisoners who passed through Traitors Gate
  • Famous prisoners went through the Gate

Traitors Gate - the famous entrance to the Tower of London
The famous entrance to the Tower of London, Traitors Gate, can be clearly seen by anyone passing up or down the River Thames. This infamous water-gate entrance to the Tower of London was designed by the Medieval architect Master James of St George on the orders of King Edward I between 1275 and 1279 as part of St Thomas's Tower. It was originally built to provide a new water-gate by which King Edward could arrive at the Tower by river. St Thomas's Tower provided additional royal accommodation for the King and his family. The function of the Tower of London was originally to provide royal power base in the City of London and to provide a retreat for the Royal family in times of civil disorder. This changed over the years and was increasingly used as a prison for enemies of the state accused of treason which was entered via Traitors Gate. The Tower was last used as a Royal residence by Anne Boleyn when she was preparing for her coronation. It was a tradition that new Kings and Queens of England would make their way from the Tower of London to Westminster Abbey for their coronation. The death of Anne Boleyn heralded the increased use of the Tower as a prison. The water-gate under St Thomas's Tower has been known for over 300 years as 'Traitors Gate' because of the number of prisoners, accused of treason, who have passed through it.

Anne Boleyn at Traitors Gate
The story of Anne Boleyn and her journey through Traitors Gate is a very poignant one. The twenty-nine year old Queen of England was arrested on the charges of treason, adultery and incest. Never a popular Queen she had been reviled by the population with cries of "Witch" and "Whore" and detested by many courtiers. King Henry VIII had been madly in love with her but this soon turned to hate when he met Jane Seymour. Her enemies moved swiftly against her and people started to disappear from court. Sir Henry Norris and the Queen's own brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford were arrested and taken to the Tower of London by barge and through the Traitors Gate entrance. On May 2 1536, the Queen herself was arrested at Greenwich and was taken to the Tower by barge along the same path she had travelled to prepare for her coronation just three years earlier. She passed through Traitors Gate and was met by William Kingston the Constable of the Tower at the top of the slippery steps leading from Traitors Gate. Her first question was: 'Shall I go to some dungeon?' Kingston replied, 'No, madam, you shall go to your chambers whereat your Grace lay before your Coronation.' Anne Boleyn  was terrified and alternated from fits of hysterical laughter to uncontrollable weeping. She was executed on 19th May 1536.

Princess Elizabeth at Traitors Gate
The story of Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth I, and her journey through Traitors Gate is an equally frightening one. Her sister Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) ordered her arrest believing that the Princess was involved with Sir Thomas Wyatt and a rebellious plot. Princess Elizabeth was taken on Palm Sunday 1554, by barge, to the entrance of the Tower of London - Traitors Gate. Her thoughts must have raced back to that of her mother, Anne Boleyn, who had also passed through Traitors Gate and had been executed at the Tower when Elizabeth was just three years old. The princess was terrified - she believed that she would never leave the Tower once she had passed through Traitors Gate. Elizabeth refused at first to land at the gate, angrily proclaiming that she was no traitor. There was a heavy down pour of rain. Elizabeth had no choice but to be lead into the Tower. At the age of 21, Princess Elizabeth was taken through the Traitors Gate and imprisoned in the Tower of London. She was released 8 weeks later.

Traitors Gate
Interesting facts and information about the history of the Tower of London and Traitors Gate. 

Traitors Gate

The Tower of London

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  • The Tower of London Prisoners
  • The Executions and Beheading of men and women 

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