You are here: London Online > Tower of London Virtual Tour > Beauchamp Tower
Previous page: Tower Green

This is on the west side of Tower Green, facing the White Tower and is on the inner wall between the Bell Tower on the south and the Devereux Tower on the north, being connected with both by a walk along the parapet.

Its present name probably refers to the residence in it, as a prisoner, of Thomas, third Earl of Warwick, of the Beauchamp family, who was attainted under Richard II in 1397, but restored to his honours and liberty two years later under Henry IV. It is curious that the most interesting associations of the place should be connected with his successors in the earldom.

Although built entirely for defensive purposes, we find that from early on it was used as a prison, and during the two following centuries it seems to have been regarded as one of the most convenient places in which to lodge prisoners of rank and in consequence many of the most interesting mural inscriptions are to be found in its chambers.

In plan the Beauchamp Tower is semicircular and it projects 18 feet beyond the face of the wall. It consists of three stories, of which the middle one is on a level with the rampart, on which it formerly opened. The building dates probably from the reign of Henry III, though on the line of Richard I's defences; the brickwork is of the time of Henry VIII.

We enter at the south-east corner and ascend by a circular staircase to the middle chamber, which is spacious and has a large window, and a fire place. Here are to be found most of the inscriptions, some having been brought from other chambers. A few are in the entrance passage and on the stair. All are numbered and catalogued.

The following - to which the numbers are appended - will be found the most interesting:

2. On the ground floor, near the entrance, ROBART DVDLEY. This was the fifth son of John, Duke of Northumberland, and next brother to Guildford Dudley, the husband of Lady Jane Grey.

When his father was brought to the block in 1553 he and his brother remained in prison here, Robert being condemned to death in 1554. In the following year he was liberated with his elder brother Ambrose, afterwards created Earl of Warwick, and his younger brother Henry.

In the first year of Queen Elizabeth he was made Master of the Horse and elected a Knight of the Garter. In 1563 he was created Earl of Leicester. He died at Cornbury, in Oxfordshire, in 1588.

8. On the left, at the entrance of the great chamber, is a carved cross, with other religious emblems, with the name and arms of PEVEREL, and the date 1570. It is supposed to have been cut by a Roman Catholic prisoner confined during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

13. Over the fireplace this inscription in Latin :- "The more suffering for Christ in this world the more Glory with Christ in the next," etc. This is signed "Arundel, June 22, 1587." This was Philip Howard, son of Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, beheaded in 1572.

Philip inherited from his maternal grandfather the Earldom of Arundel in 1580. He was a staunch Roman Catholic and was constantly under suspicion of the Government, by which in 1584 he was confined in his own house for a short time.

On his liberation he determined to quit the country, but was committed to the Tower in 1585, and died in custody ten years later, having refused release on condition of forsaking his religion. His body was buried in his father's grave in the Chapel of St. Peter, but was eventually removed to Arundel.

He left other inscriptions, one in the window (79), and one on the staircase dated 1587.

14. On the right of the fire-place is an elaborate piece of sculpture which will be examined with peculiar interest as a memorial of the five brothers Dudley: Ambrose (created Earl of Warwick 1561), Guildford (beheaded 1554), Robert (created Earl of Leicester 1563), and Henry (killed at the siege of St. Quintin, 1558), carved by the eldest, John (called Earl of Warwick), who died in 1554.

Under a bear and a lion supporting a ragged staff is the name of "JOHN DVDLE," and surrounding them is a wreath of roses (for Ambrose), oak leaves (for Robert, an oak), gillyflowers (for Guildford), and honeysuckle (for Henry). Below are four lines, one of them incomplete, alluding to the device and its meaning. It is on record that the Lieutenant of the Tower was allowed 6s. 8d. a day each for the diet of these captive brothers.

33. This is one of several inscriptions relating to the Poole or Pole family (see also Nos. 45, 47, 52, 56, 57). They were the grandsons of the Countess of Salisbury, who was beheaded in 1541. No. 45 contains the name of" GEFFRYE POOLE 1562." He was the second son, and he gave evidence against his elder brother, Lord Montagu, who was beheaded in 1539.

48. "JANE" This interesting inscription, repeated also in the window (85), has always been supposed to refer to the Lady Jane Grey, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk, and wife of Guildford Dudley, fourth son of the Duke of Northumberland. A second repetition in another part of the room was unfortunately obliterated when a new window was made to fit this chamber for a mess-room.

It is sometimes, but erroneously, supposed that the name was carved by this Queen often days herself hut it is improbable that she was ever imprisoned in the Beauchamp Tower. She is known to have lived in the house of Partridge, the Gaoler.

It is much more probable that the two inscriptions were placed on the wall either by Lord Guildford Dudley, her husband, or by his brother, whose large device has been described above.

66. In the window is the rebus, or monogram, of Thomas Abell : upon a bell is the letter A. This was Dr. Abell, a faithful servant to Queen Katharine of Arragon, first wife of King Henry VIII. He acted as her chaplain during the progress of the divorce, and by his determined advocacy offended the King. For denying the supremacy he was condemned and executed in 1540.

The visitor who has time to spare will find many other records of this kind in the Beauchamp Tower. Emerging again upon Tower Green we see on the right THE KING'S HOUSE.

Next page: Kings House

The Tower of London Virtual Guide




Custom Search
                        

London Online | About Us | London attractions | London Venues | London Events | London Hotels | London Theatre
CSE © 1996 - 2017 London Online. All rights reserved. London Online is a trading name of CSE. The content of the London Online website is provided in good faith but we cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies, omissions or visitors' comments.


London Online is part of the  Britain Online network of city guides.