Tower of London (6): Traitors’ Gate

Posted: March 25, 2016 in History, London, Medieval History, UK
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Traitors’  Gate was built by King Edward I in around 1275. It may surprise many visitors to the Tower that this now infamous gate leading to the river was originally built as the main entrance to the Tower. In medieval times it was far healthier and safer for the members of the King’s court to travel between royal castles and palaces by boat rather than through the crowded and dirty streets of the city. It was part of St Thomas’ tower and was probably known as St Thomas’ Gate.The first record of it being called Traitors’ Gate is on a map of 1544.

The walkway between the two southern walls. The top of the steps leading to Traitor's Gate is just out of shot to the right

The walkway between the two southern walls. The top of the steps leading to Traitors’ Gate is just out of shot to the right

The Gate was connected to the river by a short canal which passed through the river wall, under the outer wall of the tower and into a small pool between the two walls on the southern side.

The blocked up entrance to the Tower from the river. Named the Traitors gate because prisoners were often brought to the Tower by boat.

The blocked up entrance to the Tower from the river.

 

The inner entrance to Traitors Gate. the steps leading up to the tower can be seen in the bottom left corner

The inner entrance to Traitors’ Gate. The steps leading up to the tower can be seen in the bottom left corner

Here steps led to the walkway between the internal and external walls and to the towers along this way which were used for housing prisoners such as the Bloody Tower. Its most famous prisoners were probably in Tudor times, when such prisoners as Edward, Duke of Buckingham, Queen Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas More, Queen Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, Princess Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I) and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex all entered the Tower by the fearsome Traitors’ Gate.

"Traitor's Gate - geograph.org.uk - 455483" by Stephen Henley. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Traitor%27s_Gate_-_geograph.org.uk_-_455483.jpg#/media/File:Traitor%27s_Gate_-_geograph.org.uk_-_455483.jpg

Traitors’ Gate as it would have looed when Gate was in use.[“Traitor’s Gate – geograph.org.uk – 455483” by Stephen Henley. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]-

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