Location: London, England
Notable Residents: Sir Thomas More, King Henry VI, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard (wives of King Henry VIII), Rudolph Hess
The Tower of London, also known as Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, rests on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. The castle played a huge role in the history of England, serving as an armoury, a menagerie, and a treasury. It was the home of both the Royal Mint (a public records office) and the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Still, the Tower of London is best known as a prison, with the most important periods being the 16th and 17th centuries, when prominent yet disgraced figures were held captive there. Prior to becoming queen, Elizabeth l was a prisoner of the Tower.
Though it was reported that life in the Tower was brutal, only seven people were executed within its confines prior to World War II. Torture had to be sanctioned, so it was not used often—there are just 48 recorded instances of torture from 1640 to 1530. There were three common methods: the rack, the Scavenger's Daughter, and the manacles. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Royal Mint and other public institutions vacated the castle, leaving the rooms empty. Prisoners were able to better their time at the Tower by purchasing goods through the Lieutenant of the Tower, a practice still common in prisons today.
The Tower is said to be haunted, most famously by the ghost of Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded after being convicted of treason against Henry Vlll. Legend has it that her vengeful spirit inhabits the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, allegedly lurking around with her head tucked under her arm. In present day England, the Tower of London is one of the most prized tourist attractions, and is preserved as a World Heritage Site.