Beauchamp Tower London

Beauchamp Tower London

Beauchamp Tower is easily missed as visitors seem focused on the White Tower and the Jewel Tower. Moreover, if you are limited to time, you may give Beauchamp a miss but I suggest that Beauchamp is worth a visit and deserving of a place on your list.

I discovered Beauchamp Tower on my visit as I retraced my footsteps in London. I have been to Tower of London many times before but had never visited this tower. I learnt so much of historic England from my visit here which I share with you here.

Read about the Tower of London – the Best Guide before your next visit.

Beauchamp Tower London

Beauchamp Tower sits next to the dark timbered Queen’s House overlooking the Tower Chapel and the Tower Green | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

Beauchamp, pronounced as “beecham” is one of the twenty-one towers at the Tower of London and forms part of the inner defensive wall of Tower of London. It was built between 1275 and 1281 towards the end of the first leg of modernisation of the Tower, under the reign of King Edward I.

The tower’s close proximity to the Lieutenant’s lodgings (now, the Queen’s House) made Beauchamp Tower a significant and a perfect place throughout history to accommodate high-ranking important prisoners.

There are other towers within the walls of the Tower of London which also became home to very important high status prisoners. Read about the prisoners of the Bloody Tower at the Tower of London here and the Jewel Tower, home to the Magnificent Crown Jewels.

Prisoners of the Beauchamp Tower London

Amongst the important prisoners at Beauchamp were John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and his four sons. One of the sons was Guildford Dudley, the husband to Lady Jane Grey. Here’s a brief look at the Dudleys and Lady Jane Grey.

About the Dudleys

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland was imprisoned at the Beauchamp Tower along with his four sons because he wanted his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey to be Queen of England.

John Dudley and his sons were condemned as traitors in 1553. He was executed for treason at Tower Hill on August 22, 1553. Guilford Dudley, husband to Lady Jane was executed in February 1554. Following his execution, the three brothers were pardoned and released.

About Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey - on her Coronation
Lady Jane Grey on the day of her procession to be Queen of England. Lady Jane Grey (1536-54) after a painting by Herbert Norris, © Lebrecht Music & Arts/Alamy Stock Photo
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Lady Jane inherited the throne from Edward VI and was Queen of England for just nine days. She was deposed by Catholic Mary I, on July 19, 1553 and was imprisoned in the Queen’s House.

On the morning of 12 February, 1554, from her window, Lady Jane watched her young husband, Guildford Dudley, leave Beauchamp Tower for his execution at Tower Hill, and his headless body return for burial at the Tower Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.

Later, on the very same day, Lady Jane was executed at Tower Green. She was seventeen years old.

About Guildford Dudley

Guildford Dudley, born in 1535 was an English nobleman who married Lady Jane Grey in an elaborate celebration about six weeks before the death of King Edward VI. Guildford and Jane spent their brief rule together at the Tower of London until they were condemned to death for high treason, thereafter in separate quarters.

On the morning of their execution, Guildford requested to see Lady Jane one last time. Jane refused, saying:

“would only … increase their misery and pain, it was better to put it off … as they would meet shortly elsewhere, and live bound by indissoluble ties.” 

Guildford Dudley was executed at Tower Hill on the morning of February 12, 1554.

The Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London is next to the right of the Queen's House. The Dudley's were imprisoned here
The Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London is next to the right of the Queen’s House. The Dudley’s were imprisoned here. © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

Other prisoners at Beauchamp Tower London

Other notable prisoner at Beauchamp Tower was Lady Jane Rochford, lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII. Lady Rochford’s confession was instrumental in the tragic death of Catherine Howard. Her interrogation drove her insane and she was executed on the same day as Queen Catherine on February 13, 1542.

As the tower was used throughout English history as a prison, there were other prisoners as well such as William Tyrrel and Thomas Peverel. Most recently, it accommodated several German spies during the World Wars.

You may wish to know more about the German spies and you can access information here. The last person to be executed at the Tower was Josef Jakobs, also a German spy at the end of WWII.

Graffiti in the Beauchamp Tower

What makes Beauchamp Tower London famous these days is the discovery of graffiti beneath the many layers of history on its walls. These graffiti on the wall were left by prisoners.

The inscriptions were made during the 16th and 17th century when the religious and political turmoil was at a height and the prison was home to many high-ranking and important prisoners such as the Dudleys, William Tyrrel and Thomas Peverel. Some of these inscriptions are bold reflecting painstaking carving while others are thin and somewhat spidery. They are a few that seem to cluster in specific locations of the Tower.

Inscription of William Tyrrel in 1541 in Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London
William Tyrrel (1541) In Italian “Since fate has chosen that my hope should go with the wind I now want to cry for the time that is lost and I will be sad and unhappy forever”
Graffiti left by prisoners in the Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London
Cluster of Graffiti: 29 – Thomas Myagh: Tortured because of his association with Irish rebels. 29a – Unknown 31 – Thomas Peverel (1571)
Graffiti in Beauchamp Tower
62 – Attributed to Thomas Peverel

All images © timelesstravelsteps | by Georgina_Daniel

Graffiti on the walls of Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London
Graffiti on the walls of Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

These sombre inscriptions represents thoughts of the prisoners and a powerful need to leave some form of record of their existence. A record, so they are not lost forever. It is an assertion of their beliefs and identity but above all, a strong will of defiance not to be cowed by political and religious tyranny. Some prisoners were held in gloomy cells, while others could move freely within the Tower grounds. Their treatment and fate depended on their social status and their crime.

*Lady Jane Grey was given access to the garden in December 1553.

Timeless Travel Steps says: When I visited, there were a number of people here so I could not take a closer look at the graffiti. I am intrigued by these inscriptions and am motivated to discover more on this part of history at the Tower of London.

There is a permanent exhibition at the Beauchamp Tower.
There is a permanent exhibition at the Beauchamp Tower | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel
Spiral stairs leading to the permanent exhibition of the prison in Beauchamp Tower.
Lots of stairs! Spiral stairs leading to the permanent exhibition of the prison in Beauchamp Tower | © timelesstravelsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

One thing to bear in mind when visiting here is the narrow entrance and the narrow spiral stairway – there is only one of these, so visitors going up as well as those exiting the exhibition use it. If you are at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for the moment to get up – don’t! Don’t wait because you shall be waiting for a long time (like I did!) and others behind you will get ahead of you regardless of your politeness!

Entry to the permanent exhibition in the Beauchamp Tower is included in the entry ticket to the Tower of London. It is reasonably priced at £25.00 and is valid for one day – take a look here.

Learn more about Beauchamp Tower from this book: In Inscriptions and Devices, in the Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London

UK Readers

Published by the British Library, the book contains a short historical sketch of the building, and the prisoners formerly confined therein: collected from State papers, records, and other authentic sources: by W. R. Dick.

I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and have found it valuable towards planning your visit to Beauchamp Tower. Do share your thoughts in comments below.

The Tower of London is vast and offers a thousand years of history within its walls. If you are in a rush, you may not experience all of what Tower of London has to offer. It is highly recommended that you spend at least four to five hours (subject to the time of day and the season you choose to visit) when you visit. Have a break in between and enjoy the hospitality at the cafe.

Learn more about the Tower of London by taking these virtual tours > Inside the Tower of London by the Tower of London | Historic Royal Palaces.

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Books on Prisoners of the Bloody Tower | Intriguing tales of Prisoners of the Bloody Tower

Books on Prisoners of the Bloody Tower | Intriguing tales of Prisoners of the Bloody Tower

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About the Bloody Tower at Tower of London

Built in the early 1220s as access gateway to the Thames, the Bloody Tower was originally known as the Garden Tower because it was next to the Constable’s garden. The Tower was not intended to be a prison but it became home to a number of prisoners, notably Sir Walter Raleigh and the two princes. The tower gained its reputation in the 16th century as the Bloody Tower when the notorious murders of the princes, Edward V and Richard Duke of York that supposedly took place within the walls of the tower were discovered. To learn more about the Bloody Tower, navigate to The Bloody Tower at the Tower of London, while on this page, there are carefully selected and recommended reading items – books on the prisoners of the Bloody Tower should you wish to delve deeper into learning more about the famous prisoners that resided here, Sir Walter Raleigh and the royal princes.

*Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page

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Tower of London | 51.5081° N, 0.0759° W

Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh
Walter Raleigh, © akg-images / De Agostini Picture Library

Walter Raleigh (also spelled as Ralegh) was an English gentleman, writer, poet, adventurer, politician, courtier and a soldier who introduced ‘potato’ to the English dinner tables. A charming nobleman, he was one of the most famous explorers during the reign of Elizabeth I. He pioneered the colonisation of North America and helped defend England against the Spainish Armada. Raleigh was rewarded handsomely by the Queen and received his knighthood in 1585.

When Queen Elizabeth I died, James I succeeded to the throne in 1603 who imprisoned Raleigh at the Tower of London. While confined to the walls of the Tower, he wrote ‘History of the World‘. In 1616, Raleigh was released to head an expedition to South America, during which his men attacked a Spanish settlement. He was forced to abandon his mission. Upon his return, he was imprisoned at the Bloody Tower to appease the Spaniards until his beheading in 1618.

Suggested reading: Bloody Tower at the Tower of London

Below is a selection of books, some written by Walter Raleigh himself which are available as reprints and some books written about him. Enjoy perusing each of the carefully selected books to learn more of this infamous adventurer. You can purchase them as Paperback, Hardcover or instant download on Kindle.

Books on Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh: In Life and Legend Kindle Edition – by Mark Nicholls +  P. Williams  

The Poems of Sir Walter Raleigh: Now First Collected (Classic Reprint) Paperback – 27 Jun. 2012

The Roanake Voyages 1584-1590: Vol II: English Voyages to North America Paperback – 28 Mar. 2003

The Letters Of Sir Walter Ralegh Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 July 1999

Sir Walter Raleigh 174 Success Facts – Everything You Need to Know about Sir Walter Raleigh Paperback – 5 Jun. 2014

The Discoverie of the Large, Rich and Bewtiful Empyre of Guiana by Sir Walter Raleigh (Exploring Travel) Paperback – 4 Dec. 1997

An Abridgment Of Sir Walter Raleigh’s History Of The World: In Five Books (1698) Paperback – 10 Sept. 2010

Sir Walter Raleigh A Biography Kindle Edition. Also available in Paperback and Hardcover

Click on the images to view the synopsis and Buy on Amazon

The Princes – Edward V and Richard Duke of York

The two princes, Edward and his younger brother, Richard mysteriously disappeared in 1483 from the Bloody Tower. The princes, sons of Edward IV were brought to the Tower by their uncle and Lord Protector, Duke of Gloucester for their ‘own protection’. Duke of Gloucester later became King Richard III. The princes were never seen alive again.

Below is a list of books written on the mysterious disappearance and the sinister plot that may have transpired during this fifteen century era. There are various opinions as to who was responsible for their disappearance and/or murder. This mystery remains unsolved till today.

Books on the Missing Princes at the Tower

Richard III and the Princes in the Tower Paperback – 7 Aug. 2014 by Alison Weir

The Survival of the Princes in the Tower: Murder, Mystery and Myth Kindle Edition by Matthew Lewis (Also available in Paperback and Hardback)

The Mythology of the ‘Princes in the Tower‘ Kindle Edition by John Ashdown-Hill (Available in Paperback and Hardback as well)

The Princes in the Tower : Cold Case Re-opened Kindle Edition by Mark Garber (Available as Audiobook as well)

The Killer of the Princes in the Tower: A New Suspect Revealed Hardcover – 30 Jun. 2021

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The Princes in the Tower: Did Richard III Murder His Nephews, Edward V & Richard of York? Kindle Edition by Josephine Wilkinson

Richard III and the Princes in the Tower: The Possible Fates of Edward V and Richard of York Paperback – Illustrated, 30 Oct. 2016 by Gerald Prenderghast


Click on the images to view synopsis and Buy on Amazon

What do you think of the selection above? Have you read any of these books? I sincerely hope that the selection is valuable to you in knowing more about British History and in particular about the Tower of London. Do share your thoughts in comments below. The following related articles may also be of value to you in planning your visit to the Tower of London.


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Books on prisoners of the Bloody Tower
Intriguing tales of the prisoners at the (1)
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Books on Prisoners of the Bloody TowerBooks on Prisoners of the Bloody Tower