The Tower of London is a major historical landmark: one thousand years old, it has been a Royal Palace, fortress, prison, armory, treasury, menagerie, public record office, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Europe’s biggest tourist attractions. It is also home to some fascinating historical graffiti.
Many of the chambers inside the walls of the Tower are covered in graffiti: some of it is bold, some is spidery, yet all of it likely created over centuries by people imprisoned within the Tower’s walls. In fear and despair, many people have obviously felt the need to leave their mark, or to simply carve into the walls to mark time.
Some notable examples include:
- Thomas Abel was Chaplain to Queen Katherine of Aragon and was imprisoned by Henry VIII in 1533. He lived in the Tower until his execution in 1540. He carved his name and the bell, and this is located in the Beauchamp Tower.
- Thomas Miagh was an Irishman who was committed to the Bell Tower in 1581 for leading a rebellion in Ireland against Elizabeth I. The inscription below is in the Bell Tower and has been attributed to him: “BY TORTURE STRANGE MY TROUTH WAS TRIED YET OF MY LIBERTIE DENIED THEREFORE RESON HATH ME PERSWADYD PASYENS MUST BE YMB RASYD THOGH HARD FORTUN CHASYTH ME WYTH SMART YET PASEYNS SHALL PREVAIL.”
- The Jesuit Priest Henry Walpole inscribed his name into the wall of the Beauchamp Tower in 1594, along with the names of the Saints Peter and Paul, as well as the names of the great doctors Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and Gregory.
- Giovanni (John) Battista Castiglione was Italian tutor to the future Elizabeth I. Her sister Queen Mary imprisoned him in 1556 in the Salt Tower. He left his mark:
There are many other fascinating examples of graffiti to be seen in the publicly accessible parts of the Tower of London. Efforts are being made to preserve these historically important carvings.
Here at United Streets of Art, we offer a range of street art-inspired designs on our merchandise including artwork wallets, unique passport holders, and phone cases. Some of our designs incorporate street art that is considered to be modern graffiti – like for example our “Imagine”, “Loves with Peace”, and “Los Angeles Graffiti” designs. Explore our online store today to find your perfect match!