Sculpture

Tower of London execution site

Erection date: 4/9/2006

Inscription

{Around the edge of the lower black circle:}
Gentle visitor pause a while, where you stand death cut away the light of many days. Here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life. May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage under these restless skies.

{Around the edge of the upper glass circle:}
Close to this site were executed:
{a list of 10 names each with the year of execution, in date sequence. For the names see the Subjects commemorated list.}

Catling wrote the poem as well as creating the sculpture. Doesn't that cushion look lovely and comfy - just the place to lay a weary head. From photos on the web we see that a tassel used to dangle at all four corners. We can't discover who was honoured to unveil this art-work. It really demands a queen but perhaps the PR department at the Palace felt it was an inappropriate association.

Following the Black Watch executions in the mid 18th century the executioner had a quiet life until WW1 when 11 German spies were executed here by firing squad. The last person executed here was a WW2 German spy.

Site: Tower of London execution site (5 memorials)

EC3, Tower Green, Tower of London

Members of royalty sentenced to death were spared the ordeal of public execution on Tower Hill. This spot, inside the very secure Tower of London, was reserved just for them, and apparently the executions took place under cover. Excavations have confirmed the existence of a building here.

But one also hears that Lady Jane Grey's prison windows looked out over Tower Green and that she must have seen her scaffold being erected, which would not have been the case had it been enclosed.

2017: Within a few weeks we came across not just one but two predecessors to the glass cushion which has been here since 2006. We're being very nerdish, publishing them as 'lost' memorials, even though the current location of one of them is actually known.

2023: We watched the 1946 short documentary film 'Prisoners of the Tower' from which we captured images of 2 other plaques at the site.

2023: Using Museum of London data Londonist have analysed the who, why, where, when and how of London executions. To see the more than 100 executees on London Remembers click here.

This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Tower of London execution site

Subjects commemorated i

Anne Boleyn

Second wife of Henry VIII and so Queen of England, 1533 to 1536.  Though marr...

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Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford

Born Jane Parker, a distant relative of Henry VIII, she became a lady-in-wait...

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Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

Born Herefordshire.  Related via the Boleyn family to Queen Elizabeth I.  Mar...

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Lady Jane Grey

Married to Lord Guilford Dudley.  Her husband’s father persuaded the dying Ed...

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William, Lord Hastings

An important man in the court of Edward IV, rising to the position of Lord Ch...

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Show all 10

This section lists the subjects who helped to create/erect the memorial on this page:
Tower of London execution site

Created by i

Brian Catling

Poet, sculptor and performance artist.  Born London.

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This section lists the other memorials at the same location as the memorial on this page:
Tower of London execution site

Also at this site i

Anne Boleyn beheaded - 1946

Anne Boleyn beheaded - 1946

This image comes from the 1946 short documentary film 'Prisoners of the Tower...

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Tower of London execution site - 1972

Tower of London execution site - 1972

In the first 2 minutes of the 1972 CCF film "The Boy Who Turned Yellow" some ...

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Tower of London execution site - c.1910

Tower of London execution site - c.1910

This image came from Twitter via Londonist, and from the children's clothes m...

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Tower scaffold - 1946

Tower scaffold - 1946

See Anne Boleyn's plaque for when/how this plaque was displayed.

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Nearby Memorials

Patricia Penn

Patricia Penn

WC1, Queen Square

Sam was stolen in August 2007. May 2009 - a new Sam is unveiled, secured with steel rods in the bricks.

2 subjects commemorated
Michael Faraday memorial - substation

Michael Faraday memorial - substation

SE1, Elephant and Castle roundabout

This shiny steel box contains an electricity substation for the tube, but it is also a memorial to Michael Faraday who was born and lived...

1 subject commemorated, 1 creator
Fame

Fame

S21, Renishaw, Renishaw Hall

The statue glistens with recent gilding. This was first done in 2002 in honour of the Golden Jubilee, by Lady Sitwell (1923 - ), the moth...

4 creators
Surrey Commercial Docks - relief model

Surrey Commercial Docks - relief model

SE16, Stave Hill

In 1985 the William Curtis Ecological Park was returned to the site owner, the London Docklands Development Corporation, who provided thi...

1 subject commemorated, 2 creators
Salters' cat - SE16 statue

Salters' cat - SE16 statue

SE16, Bermondsey Wall East, Cherry Gardens

The multi-part sculpture is called 'Dr Salter's Daydream' and shows the whole Salter family. The scene is poignant in that Joyce died at ...

2 creators