Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Murder and Mayhem at The Tower

Tower of London
This week Jennifer C Wilson pays a visit to my blog to talk about mayhem and murder...

There couldn’t really be a better theme to fit the Tower of London, the location for Kindred Spirits: Tower of London – you can’t think about the place without some grisly end or other coming to mind.  Since starting to research and write about the Tower, I’ve become a bit obsessed with its history.  The executions, of course, don’t technically count as murders, although it could be argued that some, at least, were unjustified. Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, for one: killed out of Henry VIII’s anger at her family, rather than having committed any specific crime.

Now, some would bring up the Princes in the Tower at this point, but being in the camp who sees Richard III as innocent, we’ll not go down that route too far.  But let’s not forget the convenient ‘death’ of Henry VI, the traditional place of his assassination today marked with a plaque set into the floor.  The man accused of his murder?  Um, well, moving on… Nothing to see here!  He’s my leading man after all, and we have to stand by our man, don’t we?

Let’s stick to the mayhem…

For six hundred years, the Tower was home to the Tower Menagerie, with the first royal lion kept there in the early 13th Century.  In 1235, three leopards arrived from the Holy Roman Emperor to Henry III, and in 1251, a polar bear. Plenty of mayhem here, as the beast was regularly allowed to fish in the Thames at the end of a rope.  Crazy then, but imagine if we tried it now.

For a very particular entertainment, you might be lucky enough to be invited to the “annual ceremony of washing the lions”.  Anyone who ever tried to bath a cat probably has a good idea of how well lions would react…  Given our history of animal-based ‘entertainments’, it’s not surprising that some of the Tower Menagerie’s residents took revenge on their human captors.  One unique payback was that of a brown bear in the Martin Tower.  As the story goes, a huge ghostly bear appeared in the Martin Tower, and managed to frighten one of the guards to death.  Other incidents include one of the group of monkeys which lived in the Tower, who “tore a boy’s leg”.  Happily, most of the chaos was of a more innocent nature, with one female leopard pouncing on visitors’ belongings including hats, umbrellas and muffs, before tearing them to shreds.

The Polar Bear

Just spare a thought for the cats and dogs who were taken on a day out to the Tower.  They may have gained their owners free entry, but the pets themselves did not come out of the deal well. Or at all, if truth be told…

In my version of the Tower, following its ghostly residents in their day-to-day ‘lives’, there’s certainly plenty of mayhem, as the Georges cause havoc with their haunting.  Thankfully today, there’s no longer so much of the murder.

About the author...

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.
Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online.

A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.
Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.
With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave? But foremost – will the young Plantagenet Princes join them?

Blog: https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/inkjunkie1984 
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jennifercwilsonwriter
International Amazon link: http://authl.it/B016TRKU2A
                                  Smashwords link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/586365

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