Executions at Tower Hill

The beheading of the Rebel Lords, at Tower Hill, 1746.
Above: This is when the Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmrino were executed for their part in the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, and on their execution, a troop of lifeguards and 1,000 footguard had to be called out to retain the crowd of spectators from the scaffold.

Walking past the underground station from the subway, you can see Trinity Gradens ahead, and on the right beyond the white memorial is the marked site of the scaffold on Tower Hill. The scaffold site is where some 125 prisoners died, most beheaded, in front of an unruly crowd, amounting to thousands of them. Beheading was an honourable form of execution allowed for nobles and gentlemen found guilty of treason, in which the thousands of unruly people would watch from viewind stands set up around the scaffold, sometimes collapsing under the weight of the crowd, therefore death was suffered by more than just the prisoner found guilty.

A french manuscript showing the execution of a traitor using the axe and block. The Axe and Block on display at the Tower of London in the White Tower.
Above left: A French 15th-century manuscript showing the execution of a traitor using the block which is now in display at the White Tower. Above right: The block and axe made on display at the Tower of London in the White Tower was made for the last beheading on Tower Hill in 1747; the axe is from the tudor period.

For the low status traitors, they were hanged, drawn or quartered as a way of suffering death, sometimes at Tower Hill, but mostly at Tyburn near the site of Marble Arch. As well as those found guilty of being a traitor, there were those found guilty of other crimes whom were executed at Tower Hill, suffering a different form of death. Some were burned as heretics and others hanged as common criminals, as did those last executed at Tower Hill suffered as a method of death in 1780.

Lord Lovat, the last rebel Scottish lords, as well as being the last person in Britain and Tower Hill, to be beheaded, in 1747. Left: At the age of 80 in 1747, Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat was the last person to be beheaded at Tower Hill, as well as being the last of the rebel Scottish lords to be executed and the last beheading to take place in Britain. He was found guilty for his part in the Jacobite rebellion in 1745.

Please click Next > to read about the Community within the Tower of London or < Back to re-read the introduction to Tower Hill.