Like many places that have seen more than their fair share of suffering and death (for example, Alcatraz Prison), the Tower of London is reputedly haunted. Most of the ghosts who haunt the place are unfortunate souls who met an untimely – and many times unjust – death.
Including a grizzly bear.
The thirteen most common ghosts and spectral disturbances seen at the Tower of London are:
The second wife of Henry VIII and the first wife he executed, Anne is the most famous and persistent of all the Tower ghosts. She has been seen on the Tower Green where she was executed, in St. Peter ad Vincula where she was buried and even wandering corridors as a headless body
He met his end as the result of a real-life game of thrones. Henry VI stood to inherit both the English and French thrones, but the House of York imprisoned him during the War of the Roses. Shortly after Edward IV seized the throne in 1471, Henry VI was allegedly stabbed while praying in Wakefield Tower, which his ghost haunts to this day. His ghost appears at the last stroke of midnight.
Lady Jane Grey
She was only queen for ten days before being executed by Mary, Queen of Scots. Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, were advanced as an Anglican alternative to the Catholic Mary. Upon Mary’s marriage to Philip of Spain and being crowned Queen, she sentenced both to death and both were beheaded. Lady Jane Grey’s ghost has been seen wandering the battlements, a lonely, solitary figure.
Lord Guildford Dudley
Lord Guildford Dudley’s ghost haunts Beauchamp Tower, sitting in his cell and weeping late into the night. Lord Dudley is also said to be responsible for the word “Jane” etched into the wall.
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
One of the most gruesome botched executions in history. When the Countess reached the scaffold where she was to be beheaded, she refused to kneel, saying “So should traitors do and I am none.” When the executioner raised his axe, she ran – and he chased her all around the scaffold, hacking at her until she died a gory, grisly death. Her ghostly screams can still be heard on the Tower Green and a few visitors claimed to have seen a ghostly reenactment of the chase.
The White Lady
No one is sure who the White Lady is, but she haunts the White Tower. Her presence is typically announced by an overwhelming smell of cheap perfume, so strong it has made several Tower visitors sick. A few visitors even report being tapped on the shoulder, only to turn around and see nothing but a wisp of white.
The Princes (Edward V and Richard, Duke of York)
The boy princes imprisoned in the Tower by their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Richard III) and purportedly murdered on his order. When the bones of two small boys were found under the stairs in 1674, most people believed them to be the missing princes and the bones were given a royal burial at Westminster Abbey. The figures of two lost little boys wearing nightshirts, holding hands (or clutching each other in terror), are frequently seen in the White Tower. Oddly enough, they have also been seen playing on the battlements and some claim to have heard children giggling.
Sir Walter Raleigh
Sire Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower twice, once for a secret marriage and once for treason. Following his execution, his ghost started wandering around the Bloody Tower (where he was imprisoned) as well as along the battlements now known as Raleigh’s Walk.
The Grey Lady
Her identity in life is uncertain, but the Grey Lady is a well-known resident of the Queen’s House. The Grey Lady will only reveal herself to female visitors.
Her marriage to William Seymour (nephew of Lady Jane Grey) did not have King James I’s permission. Enraged at the insult and perceiving the marriage as a possible threat to his throne, James I imprisoned Arbella in the Tower. She died there in 1615; conflicting reports claim she either stopped eating or was murdered. She haunts the Queen’s House.
Allegedly, you can hear Fawkes’s screams and cries from the Council Chamber in the White Tower, where he was prepared for his execution.
The Smothering Action
On numerous occasions, when people have entered the gallery housing Henry VIII’s armor, they have felt a great crushing or smothering force that disappears as soon as they leave the room. Guards have also reported being physically accosted, with several guards reporting attempted chokings or strangulations.
The Grizzly Bear
A number of spectral Menagerie beasts have been heard over the years, including monkeys, lions and horses, but only one has really been seen. A guard at the Tower claimed a spectral bear charged him. Though the guard attempted to bayonet the animal, which kept coming at him, eventually passing through him. The guard was carried, insensate, to his quarters where he died two days later.