Tower of London’s most high-profile prisoners – including Hitler’s second-in-command

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Anne Boleyn was Henry VIII’s second wife and ended up in the Tower of London twice


It has a long and terrifying history as one of the country’s most forbidding prisons – and now a new Channel 5 documentary is exploring the Tower of London’s fearsome past.

While these days it’s mainly a tourist attraction, the show reveals how it has held those accused of the most high-profile crimes.

Here Daily Star looks at some of the famous inmates of all time…

Anne Boleyn

Henry VIII’s second wife ended up in the Tower twice – once staying there as a free woman prior to her coronation and once as a prisoner after she failed to produce an heir.

Anne Boleyn was Henry VIII’s second wife and ended up in the Tower of London twice

Jailed on trumped-up charges of adultery, treason and an incestuous affair with her brother, she was beheaded on the site’s scaffold on May 19, 1536.

Catherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife, would meet a similar fate when she was imprisoned and then executed at the Tower of London in 1542.

Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh even fathered a son while in the Tower
Sir Walter Raleigh even fathered a son while in the Tower

Handsome, brave and a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, the explorer ended up imprisoned for the first time in 1592 after it was revealed he had secretly wed one of the monarch’s maids of honour.

His second spell inside lasted 13 years after he was accused of plotting against King James I.

Stripped of his wealth, he was confined to the Bloody Tower in 1603, but his status meant he had a comfortable stay and even fathered a son there.

Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes' cell was so small it was known as the “Little Erase”
Guy Fawkes’ cell was so small it was known as the “Little Erase”

Fawkes was thrown into the Tower after his failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

He was kept in a notorious cell known as the “Little Erase” – a room so cramped its inhabitant couldn’t stand up or lie down straight.

Found guilty of treason, he was condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but dodged this gruesome fate
by throwing himself from the gallows and breaking his own neck.

Rudolf Hess

Adolf Hitler with his deputy and private secretary, Rudolf Hess
Adolf Hitler with his deputy and private secretary, Rudolf Hess

During World War Two, the castle was restored to a state prison when it held two Nazis captured in the UK.

One was Josef Jakobs, a German spy apprehended in rural England who became the last man put to death at the Tower of London when he was executed by a firing squad in August 1941.

The other was Hitler’s second-in-command Hess, who was captured in May 1941 when he parachuted into Scotland apparently to negotiate peace.

Doubtful of his intentions, PM Winston Churchill had him sent to the Tower. He remained for just a few days before being transferred elsewhere.

The Kray twins

East End gangsters the Kray twins, Ronnie (left) and Reggie
East End gangsters the Kray twins, Ronnie (left) and Reggie

The gangsters who ruled the East End of London became the very last people to be held at the Tower after they were banged up for a few days aged just 19.

They had been called up to national service with an Army regiment based at the London fortress but attempted to desert after just minutes, punching a corporal on the chin.

The twins were later sent to military prison for a month, then dishonourably discharged after repeatedly attacking guards and escaping.

  • The Tower Of London: The Royal Prison airs on Wednesday night at 7pm on Channel 5





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