10 famous Tower of London hauntings that will take you back in time in the creepiest way

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The mysteries of the Tower of London hauntings

Step into the shadows of history at the Tower of London, where echoes of the past blend with whispers of the paranormal. This isn’t your ordinary historical monument — it’s a place where each stone tells a story, some more chilling than others.

Near the top of the bucket list for most London sightseers, The Tower of London stands out from typical old castles — history feels quite alive in this place. (Maybe a bit too alive for some!)

This iconic castle has been around since the 1070s, thanks to famed king, William the Conqueror. With its expansive history stretching back over nine centuries, it stands as a prominent symbol of the United Kingdom’s past.

It has served as a royal residence, a treasury, a menagerie, an armory, and most notably — a prison. The Tower’s significance is amplified by its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it a must-see landmark for history enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Beyond its historical and architectural grandeur, the Tower of London is home to a host of ghostly legends, earning it the reputation as one of the UK’s most haunted places.

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The Tower of London at night. Photo by The wub, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

From famous prisoners to tragic royals, the spirits of those who met their untimely fates within its walls are said to linger. It’s these stories that keep the Tower’s creepy side alive and kicking.

The Tower’s reputation is not just based on age-old legends but also on numerous eyewitness accounts. Over the years, guards, staff members, and visitors have reported a range of unexplained occurrences, from ghostly apparitions to disembodied whispers.

The Tower has been the focus of various paranormal investigations, attracting both skeptics and believers.

Teams equipped with modern technology have attempted to uncover the mysteries behind these reported hauntings. Whether or not one believes in ghosts, the Tower of London’s got something for everyone.

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The Tower of London, seen from the Shard. Photo by [Duncan] from Nottingham, UK, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stories from the prison cells: Despair and turmoil

From its early days in the 1100s, the Tower served not only as a royal residence and fortress — but also as a place of confinement for those who fell out of favor with the monarchy or posed a threat to national security.

Over the centuries, it has held a wide array of prisoners, from high-ranking nobles and disgraced monarchs to foreign diplomats and, later, common criminals.

What sets the Tower apart from other historical prisons is the status of its inmates and the intrigues that often led to their confinement. The Tower’s prison cells have housed figures like Sir Walter Raleigh, Anne Boleyn, Thomas More, and Elizabeth I before she became queen.

Many of these figures were accused of treason, conspiracy or other political crimes. The imprisonment of these high-profile figures was often a statement of power and control by the reigning monarch.

The conditions within the Tower varied greatly depending on the prisoner’s status and the period in question. High-ranking individuals like Elizabeth I were held in relative comfort, while others faced much harsher conditions.

The infamous Bloody Tower, for instance, is where the young Princes in the Tower were believed to have been held and possibly murdered.

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The Bloody Tower. Photo by Christine Matthews, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Tower also had a notorious torture chamber, used to extract confessions or information, though it was less commonly used than popular legend suggests. The use of torture was not a daily occurrence but was reserved for special cases where the Crown deemed it necessary.

Throughout its history as a prison, the Tower of London was not just a place of confinement but also a powerful symbol of royal authority and punishment. Its very walls spoke of the fate that could befall those who crossed the monarchy.

Its legacy as a site of political machinations and personal tragedies continues to shape its reputation, contributing significantly to its status as one of the most haunted landmarks in the UK.

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From the book: “Inventory and survey of the armouries of the Tower of London

Tower of London ghost: Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes, best known for his role in the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605, is one of the famous prisoners said to haunt the Tower. His early life, however, began quite differently.

Born in 1570 in York, England, he converted to Catholicism following his father’s death and his mother’s subsequent remarriage to a Catholic. This conversion set the stage for his later actions, as he became deeply embroiled in the religious conflicts of the time.

Fawkes left England for the continent where he fought in the Eighty Years’ War on the side of Catholic Spain against the Protestant Dutch Republic.

It was during this period that he adopted the Italian version of his name, “Guido”, and gained considerable experience in military matters, particularly in the use of explosives — a skill that would later prove pivotal in the Gunpowder Plot.

Upon his return to England, Fawkes became involved with a group of English Catholics who planned to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne.

The plan, as history tells us, was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament. Fawkes was tasked with guarding the gunpowder they had stashed beneath the House of Lords.

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Guy Fawkes in Ordsall Cave. Made by George Cruikshank, c. 1840.

However, the plot was foiled on the eve of its execution, November 5, 1605, when Fawkes was discovered with the explosives and taken to the Tower of London. His imprisonment there marked the beginning of a harrowing ordeal that would lead to his execution and cement his place in British history.

His time in the Tower was marked by intense interrogation and torture — a rare and extreme measure at the time. But the authorities were desperate to extract information about his co-conspirators and the details of their plot.

Fawkes was subjected to various forms of torture, including the notorious rack, a device designed to stretch the body painfully. Despite the severe pain and suffering, Fawkes initially resisted confessing or revealing the names of his fellow insurgents.

However, after several days of relentless torture, he eventually gave in, providing the names of those involved in the Gunpowder Plot.

The intensity of Guy Fawkes’s torture and his subsequent execution have led to tales of his ghost haunting the Tower of London.

Over the years, there have been reports of sinister sounds, like agonizing screams, emanating from the dungeons where Fawkes was held and tortured. These sounds are often described as so realistic and disturbing that they leave a lasting impression on those who hear them.

Visitors and staff have reported feeling a sudden chill or a sense of dread in these areas, reinforcing the belief that Fawkes’s tormented spirit still lingers in the Tower.

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Illustration from “Memorials of the Tower of London” by Lieut. -Gen. Lord De Ros, 1866.

Tower of London hauntings: Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh was a famed explorer, soldier, and poet of the Elizabethan era — he also had a tumultuous relationship with the Tower of London, having been imprisoned numerous times.

His first stint in the Tower came in 1592 after he secretly married one of Queen Elizabeth I’s maids of honor, Elizabeth Throckmorton, without the Queen’s permission.

This act of defiance led to his temporary fall from grace. Raleigh’s time in the Tower during this period — though uncomfortable — was not as harsh as it would be for others. He was even allowed to live there with his wife and their son, born in the Tower.

Raleigh’s second and most prolonged imprisonment began in 1603, after the death of Queen Elizabeth and the ascension of King James I.

Accused of being involved in a plot against the king, Raleigh was sentenced to death. However, this sentence was commuted to imprisonment in the Tower, where he would spend the next 13 years.

During this time, Raleigh wrote his famous work, “The History of the World”. He had a degree of freedom within the Tower and was occasionally allowed visitors. Nevertheless, the shadow of his death sentence always loomed over him.

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A portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1585.

After his lengthy imprisonment, Sir Walter Raleigh was released in 1616.

This release came about as King James I sought to benefit from Raleigh’s expertise as an explorer in a quest to find the legendary El Dorado, the fabled city of gold in South America.

However, Raleigh’s expedition was a failure — and it also aggravated the Spanish, with whom England was at peace at the time.

Upon his return to England in 1618, Raleigh was arrested again. This time, the previous sentence of death, which had been suspended, was invoked.

Sir Walter Raleigh was executed on October 29, 1618, in the Palace of Westminster, marking a dramatic and final end to his storied life.

His execution was not directly related to new crimes, but rather the revival of his prior suspended sentence, a decision heavily influenced by political pressures and international diplomacy.

But Sir Walter Raleigh’s association with the Tower of London did not end with his execution.

Over the centuries, there have been reports of his ghost haunting the Tower, particularly in the Bloody Tower and the Queen’s House, where he was held.

Guards and visitors have reported seeing his spectral figure, often described as a melancholic presence, wandering the corridors and rooms where he once lived and wrote.

These sightings are sometimes accompanied by a faint, unexplained scent of tobacco — a product Raleigh famously introduced to England.

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Tower of London ghost: Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas More was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He served Henry VIII as Lord Chancellor and was a prominent figure in the early 16th century.

More is perhaps best known for his 1516 book “Utopia” and for his steadfast Catholic faith. His loyalty to the Catholic Church put him at odds with King Henry VIII, particularly over the King’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the subsequent establishment of the Church of England.

In 1534, More refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, which acknowledged the King as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. His refusal led to his arrest and imprisonment in the Tower of London.

More’s time in the Tower was marked by isolation and harsh conditions, reflective of his fall from grace. Despite pressure, he remained firm in his beliefs.

In 1535, he was tried for treason, found guilty, and executed by beheading.

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A portrait of Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1527

After his execution, it was said that More’s spirit couldn’t find peace. According to numerous accounts by guards and visitors alike, his ghost has been spotted wandering the Tower’s grounds, particularly near the site where his execution took place.

These sightings are often described as a solemn figure, walking with a sense of purpose, as if More is still trying to complete some unfinished business or perhaps protesting his innocence even in death.

One of the most chilling accounts comes from a night in the late 1800s. A sentry saw a figure he believed to be a fellow soldier, but as he approached, the figure transformed into a headless man.

Terrified, the sentry reportedly fainted on the spot. When he awoke, the ghostly apparition of Sir Thomas More had disappeared.

Witnesses describe More’s apparition with striking similarity — a distinguished figure, often seen holding a book, symbolizing his scholarly pursuits and unwavering faith.

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The Tower of London ghosts of royalty and nobility: Tragic tales and sightings

Anne Boleyn’s haunting of the Tower

Anne Boleyn’s story is one for the history books, and it’s as dramatic as they come. She was the second wife of King Henry VIII, and her marriage to him was a big deal — it led to England breaking away from the Catholic Church.

But things got rocky when Anne couldn’t give Henry a son. She was accused of some pretty serious stuff, like adultery and treason. In 1536, it all came crashing down, and Anne was executed at the Tower of London, a tragic end to her rollercoaster life.

People say Anne’s spirit just couldn’t leave the Tower. Her ghost is one of the most frequently reported specters at the Tower of London, and has been sighted in various parts of the Tower, both inside the buildings and on the Tower Green.

The most common depiction of her ghost is as a headless figure, often seen pacing through the Tower at night. The Chapel of St Peter, where she was buried following her execution, is a notable hotspot for these sightings.

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A painting of Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle, c. 1550

One famous sighting happened in 1864, when a British Army officer named General Dundas reported seeing Anne Boleyn as a ghostly white figure. He claimed to watch as she drifted towards a guard, feet not touching the ground, in the courtyard where she had been imprisoned before her execution.

Mistaking her for a real person, the guard charged at her with his bayonet, only to pass through her apparition, leading to his fainting.

This incident was notable enough to be brought before a military court marshal, with General Dundas’s testimony playing a crucial role in the outcome​​.

Another notable incident involved a captain of the guard witnessing a strange and ethereal scene at the Chapel Royal late one night. He observed a flickering light inside the chapel and climbed up to look through a window.

To his astonishment, he saw a ghostly procession of lords, ladies and knights in old-fashioned attire, led by Anne Boleyn herself.

This ghostly parade faded away into the darkness, leaving the captain staring into an empty, darkened church​​.

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Lady Jane Grey: A Tower of London ghost

Lady Jane Grey’s brief reign and subsequent execution are both famous parts of England’s history, and her spirit is said to haunt the Tower of London to this day. Known as the “Nine Days Queen,” her claim to the throne came after the death of King Edward VI.

Her reign began on July 10, 1553, following the death of King Edward VI, but she quickly fell victim to political machinations. Jane’s father disowned her, choosing to support Mary Tudor, leading to Jane relinquishing the crown.

Imprisoned in the Tower, she witnessed the execution of her husband before facing her own beheading in February 1554. Jane’s burial took place beneath the altar of the Tower’s Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.

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The Streatham portrait, a famous depiction of Lady Jane Grey by an unknown artist, c. 1590

Since then, her ghost is believed to roam the Tower, particularly the battlements. Her husband, Lord Guilford Dudley, is said to be seen weeping in Beauchamp Tower​​.

In 1957, a memorable sighting occurred when a guard saw a phantom lady on the battlements. This sighting was confirmed by another guard, as they both observed the figure in the cold night air. Typically, sightings of Jane’s ghost coincide with the anniversary of her death.

Her spirit is often referred to as “The Lady in White”, a nickname that stems from the color she wore on the day of her execution. Witnesses describe encounters with her ghost as being imbued with a sense of melancholy and hopelessness.

It’s said that Lady Jane’s ghost doesn’t interact much with visitors, instead seeming to wander the halls of the Tower, lost in her own world of eternal loneliness​​.

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Tower of London haunting: The mystery of the Princes in the Tower

The mystery of Edward V and his brother Richard, Duke of York, is one of the many tragic royal tales from the Tower of London. Their story began in 1483, in the midst of the Wars of the Roses. Upon the death of their father, Edward — then only 12 years old — was declared King Edward V.

His uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III, placed both Edward and his 9-year-old brother Richard in the Tower of London for their ‘protection’ — but the young princes were never seen alive again. Their disappearance and presumed murder, allegedly ordered by their uncle, has captivated historians for centuries​​​​.

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“The Princes in the Tower”, a painting by John Everett Millais of Edward V and his younger brother Richard, c. 1878.

In 1674, a wooden box containing two small human skeletons was found at the Tower, believed to be the remains of the young princes. These remains were later interred at Westminster Abbey by Charles II.

Witnesses often recount seeing ghosts of the two princes dressed in the garments of their era, appearing in the rooms where they were once held. These sightings are usually brief, with the figures of the young boys vanishing as quickly as they appear.

Apparitions of the two boys are also seen, often walking hand in hand.

Night guards and visitors have reported more than just visual encounters. Sounds that echo the princes’ presence, like distant laughter or the faint noise of a ball bouncing, have also been heard in the stillness of the Tower’s corridors.

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Henry VI haunting of the Tower of London

Henry VI’s life was marked by turmoil and tragedy, a narrative that extended beyond his mortal days. His final days were spent in captivity within the Wakefield Tower, part of the Tower of London.

He eventually met his end in this very tower on May 21, 1471, under mysterious circumstances.

It is widely believed that he was murdered, possibly on the orders of the Duke of Gloucester, who later became King Richard III.

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A portrait of King Henry VI, c. 1540.

Posthumously, Henry’s story did not end with his death. For centuries, his ghost has been said to haunt the Wakefield Tower, particularly on the anniversary of his murder.

Visitors and staff at the Tower have reported sightings of a melancholic figure, resembling Henry, lamenting his fate. These encounters are often described as deeply moving, with the king appearing to be in a state of profound sorrow.

The air in the Wakefield Tower is said to become heavy and charged during these apparitions, as if the very stones of the tower resonate with the memory of the fallen king.

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Margaret Pole: Tower of London ghost

Margaret Pole’s story is as tragic as it gets in the Tower of London’s history. Born into nobility as the Countess of Salisbury, Margaret’s life took a dark turn due to her Plantagenet lineage, which became a threat to the Tudor reign.

In 1541, under Henry VIII’s order, she was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Her execution on May 27, 1541, was horrifically botched.

Apparently, the executioner assigned to carry out her death sentence was inexperienced. Accounts suggest that he was either very nervous or lacked the skill typically expected of someone in his role.

Allegedly, the first blow of the executioner’s axe missed her neck entirely, striking her shoulder. The executioner continued his gruesome task, hacking at her with his axe multiple times.

The scene was described as chaotic and bloody, with Margaret receiving multiple blows before she finally succumbed to her injuries. Instead of a swift and merciful end, Margaret suffered a prolonged and agonizing death.

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The woman in this portrait is technically unidentified but thought to be Margaret Pole, the Countess of Salisbury, c. 1535.

Visitors and staff have reported hearing piercing screams near the site of her execution, especially during the early hours of the morning. These sounds are often attributed to Margaret’s spirit, reliving the terror of her final moments.

The intensity of these screams has left many feeling a deep sense of unease, as if the horror of that day is being replayed in an endless loop.

Beyond the auditory hauntings, there have been reports of a palpable sense of dread in the areas associated with Margaret’s execution. Some visitors have described a sudden feeling of overwhelming sadness and distress.

This phenomenon has led many to believe that Margaret’s spirit remains unrested, and that the circumstances of her traumatic death are causing her spirit to linger in the Tower forever.

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The guardians: The Tower’s protectors

The Yeomen Warders, often referred to as the Beefeaters, are an iconic part of the Tower of London’s history.

Their formation was initiated by King Henry VII in 1485, following his victory at the Battle of Bosworth. This makes them the UK’s oldest existing military corps, and the oldest of the royal bodyguards. The Tudor rose, a heraldic symbol of the Tudor dynasty, remains a part of their badge even today​​.

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An illustration from “London Town” (1883), showing ravens at the Tower of London and a beefeater.

When Henry VIII moved his official residence from the Tower of London in 1509, the Tower retained its status as a royal palace. To mark this, a detachment of twelve Yeomen of the Guard was left as a token garrison at the Tower.

Their title was later changed to Tower warders, better reflecting their responsibilities. Initially, they were stripped of the right to wear the scarlet royal livery, which was exclusive to the Yeoman of the Guard.

However, this privilege was restored during the reign of Edward VI, reportedly due to the impressive behavior of the warders​​.

Some of the key duties of the Yeomen Warders today include: conducting tours of the Tower, participating in ceremonial events such as the Ceremony of the Keys, providing security for the Tower and its treasures, acting as custodians of the Tower’s history and traditions, and engaging with visitors to enhance their experience of this historic site.

Because these duties include conducting tours and sharing the Tower’s history, they are major figures in enhancing the visitor experience at this historic site​​.

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Three Yeomen Warders at the Tower of London. Photo by Michel wal, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Warders have their own share of ghostly tales and supernatural experiences. Over the years, they and many visitors have reported sightings of phantom soldiers and archers within the Tower’s grounds.

These spectral figures, often seen in the corners of one’s vision or disappearing around a bend, are said to be the spirits of former soldiers who served at the Tower.

These ghostly soldiers typically appear clad in armor and carrying old weapons, still patrolling the grounds, eternally vigilant in their duty to protect the Tower.

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One of the most frequently reported apparitions is that of a phantom archer at the Salt Tower.

According to legend, during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, a sentry saw a ghostly figure aiming an arrow at him. The sentry was so terrified by the incident that he reportedly died of shock a few days later.

In a way, the Warders, both living and spectral, are guardians of the Tower’s legacy, ensuring that its stories and spirits — whether real or imagined — continue to live on.

Their daily rituals are seen as acts that honor and preserve the history of the Tower. Because of its complex and often dark history, the Tower remains a symbol of endurance, with the Yeomen Warders at the heart of its ongoing legacy.

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The supernatural and the animal world: The Tower’s ravens and more

The Tower of London’s history isn’t just about kings, queens, and prisoners. It’s also home to some less human (but equally fascinating!) creatures.

Ravens

Ravens, of course, are the Tower’s most famous non-human residents. Their story is a mix of legend and history.

One popular story says that King Charles II was told by his astronomer, John Flamsteed, that the ravens were essential for the kingdom’s survival. (Even though they messed with his star-gazing.)

Despite the trouble, Charles II decided to keep the ravens, and now at least six are always at the Tower. This tradition is taken seriously — legend has it that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, both it and the kingdom will fall.

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Meet Jubilee and Munin, two of the ravens residing at the Tower of London. Jubilee, adorned with a gold band, arrived in 2012 from Somerset as a gift during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Munin, distinguishable by her light green band, was born in North Uist in 1995, making her the most senior of the Tower’s ravens. Photo © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons

Christopher Skaife, the Tower’s current Ravenmaster, has the unique job of looking after these famous birds. His work involves making sure the ravens are healthy and safe. He feeds them a diet that includes everything from nuts and berries to blood-soaked biscuits.

Skaife, who didn’t start out as a bird expert, learned on the job and even completed a five-year apprenticeship. His experiences with the ravens are fascinating — like with Merlina, a well-known raven who doesn’t quite fit in with the others and lives in her own special space in the Queen’s House.

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A raven spotted on the raven cage at the Tower of London. Photo by Tyler Brenot, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The ravens also feature in several stories that add to the Tower’s mystique.

In 1536, as Anne Boleyn was about to be executed in the Tower, it’s said that a remarkable quietness enveloped the surroundings.

The ravens of the Tower, usually known for their noise and activity, were uncharacteristically quiet and motionless. They observed the event in silence from their positions on the battlements — a behavior that drew the notice of those present.

In 1554, the Tower once again became the backdrop for a gruesome event with the execution of Lady Jane Grey.

Following her beheading, the ravens, typically distant, gathered around the execution site. Unexpectedly, they started pecking at Jane Grey’s severed head.

This behavior from the ravens was out of the ordinary and left a lasting impression on those who witnessed it, further linking the birds to the Tower’s history of royal executions.

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The importance of the ravens was highlighted during World War II when many were killed during bombing raids. Only two ravens — named Mabel and Grip — survived. But after Mabel flew away, leaving Grip alone, he also departed.

This event was linked in news reports to the legend of Britain’s potential fall, and some saw the subsequent decolonization of the British Empire as a fulfillment of this legend.

Today, to ensure the ravens remain at the Tower, their wings are clipped in a way that allows them to fly but not far enough to leave​​.

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Old Martin: Tower of London ghost bear

The ravens aren’t the only animals to call the Tower of London their home. Stories of a ghostly bear named Old Martin have been whispered for generations.

This tale is linked to a time from the Tower’s past where it was host to a royal menagerie, and exotic animals from across the globe were kept within its walls. This collection included lions, elephants, alligators, hyenas, monkeys, and indeed — a grizzly bear.

Later, a bear’s skin and skull, believed to be ‘Old Martin,’ were found at the Natural History Museum in 1999. They were later returned to the Tower for a special exhibit.

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The most famous account of Old Martin dates back to the early 20th century. According to this version, a guard patrolling the Tower late at night heard an unsettling growling noise near the Martin Tower.

Armed and vigilant, he investigated, expecting to confront an intruder. Instead, he came face-to-face with the towering apparition of a great bear, its eyes gleaming in the moonlight.

Frozen in shock, the guard was unable to react as the bear seemed to advance towards him. In a desperate act, he thrust his bayonet forward, but it passed harmlessly through the spectral figure.

The guard, overwhelmed by fear and disbelief, collapsed and was found unconscious the next morning. The trauma of the encounter was so profound that he never recovered, succumbing to his fear mere days later.

The legend of Old Martin doesn’t end there. Over the years, several guards and visitors have reported similar encounters, often describing a sudden drop in temperature and the feeling of being watched before the bear’s apparition appears.

These sightings are always fleeting, with the bear vanishing as quickly as it appeared.

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Beyond the physical: Ghost hunters and energies

With its centuries of turbulent history, the Tower of London has long been a focal point for psychic investigations and experiences.

Numerous psychics and mediums have visited the Tower, drawn by its reputation. These investigations often involve attempts to communicate with the spirits of former prisoners, royals, and guards believed to inhabit its walls.

Visitors have reported a range of experiences, from sensing the presence of specific historical figures to encountering unexplained emotional energies.

Some have described feeling sudden intense emotions, like sadness or fear, in particular areas of the Tower, often correlating with known tragic events from its past.

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Recently constructed over the historic Tower Hill, this cobblestone courtyard marks the site of numerous public executions, including those of eminent figures like Sir Thomas More. Photo by Sheri from Ft. Myers, FL, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the White Tower, some ghost hunters claim to feel the presence of children, possibly related to the Princes in the Tower’s legend. In contrast, others report a sense of oppressive energy in the dungeons, where prisoners were once held.

Comparisons of various accounts reveal both consistencies and discrepancies. Common themes include the detection of distress or anxiety in certain areas, such as the Bloody Tower or the execution site on Tower Green.

However, specifics, such as the identification of individual spirits, can vary significantly. One psychic might sense the presence of Anne Boleyn near the site of her execution, while another might pick up on the energy of a lesser-known figure from the Tower’s history.

Such differences could be attributed to the personal sensitivities of the person who experienced the supposed encounter, or perhaps to the complex nature of the Tower’s past.

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Skeptic’s corner: rational explanations and debunking myths

Though the Tower of London has been the subject of numerous ghost stories and paranormal claims, a closer examination often reveals alternative, non-paranormal explanations for sightings and experiences.

One common explanation for ghostly sightings is the power of suggestion — and the human brain’s tendency to perceive patterns, especially in ambiguous or low-light situations.

The Tower’s reputation as a haunted place can predispose visitors to expect ghostly encounters. This expectation can make ordinary shadows or sounds seem otherworldly.

For instance, reports of ghostly figures in the Tower’s corridors could be attributed to the interplay of light and shadow in the ancient, dimly lit hallways, combined with the power of suggestion.

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Another factor contributing to ghostly experiences is the Tower’s architecture and acoustics. Its thick walls, narrow passageways, and echoing chambers can create unusual sound patterns.

Sounds from one part of the Tower can be carried in unexpected ways, leading to the impression of disembodied whispers or footsteps. This acoustic phenomenon can easily be mistaken for paranormal activity, especially in a place as laden with tragic history as the Tower.

Misconceptions and exaggerated tales also play a significant role. Over the centuries, stories of hauntings and apparitions are often embellished with each retelling as they are passed down.

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As entertaining as they are, it’s important to critically examine these tales too — distinguishing between documented historical facts and elements that may have been added for dramatic effect.

The story of the Princes in the Tower is one example. It has been romanticized over time, and the addition of ghostly sightings may have more to do with a Victorian-era fascination with the supernatural than with actual events.

While it’s understandable that these tales capture the imagination, it’s also important to approach them with a degree of skepticism and an understanding of human psychology.

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An aerial view of the Tower. Photo by Rafa Esteve, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience it yourself: Visiting the Tower

For those interested in visiting the Tower of London and exploring its spookier side, the Twilight Tours are a perfect pick.

These tours are unique because they happen after hours, led by the very people who know the Tower best — the Yeoman Warders.

Walking through the Tower as the evening sets in is quite an experience. These tours take you to spots like the Scaffold Site and the Bloody Tower — places steeped in history and, some say, hauntings.

You’ll get more than goosebumps, though — you’ll hear incredible stories about the Tower’s past residents, royal secrets, and maybe a ghost tale or two.

The Twilight Tours are great for anyone who loves a good historical story with a bit of mystery. They show you a different side of the Tower, one that’s about the legends and stories that have built up over centuries.

So, if you’re up for a bit of history after dark, this tour might just be what you’re looking for. 👻


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