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

Navigation

Navigation

EC3, Leadenhall Street, 122, Leadenhall Building, Cheesegrater atrium

Given the dates of the sculptor (b.1883) the figure was clearly not on the 1884 building at no.122. Royal Museums Greenwich provide some ...

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
Spike's statue - Goons

Spike's statue - Goons

N3, East End Road, 17, Stephens House

This little group shows Secombe, Milligan and Sellers, holding "Goons" scripts so it probably commemorates the Last Goon show, in 1972. D...

5 subjects commemorated, 2 creators
St Mary Abbots - boy

St Mary Abbots - boy

W8, Kensington Church Walk, St Mary Abbots Primary School

The net seems undecided how many 't's there are in Abbotts, but the school has settled on just one. The school's history page provides t...

1 subject commemorated
Sunley and Icarus

Sunley and Icarus

EC4, Old Change Court

Ayton also designed the unusual bronze plinth for this location, a garden atop a car-park. Note how the tiled ground rises towards the t...

2 subjects commemorated, 2 creators