Traitors’ Gate, in the Tower of London, has for years been the place through which British prisoners charged with treason passed. This gate was one of the scariest and most hair-raising routes prisoners could take., and its appearance and legend are still shaking. Do you want to know more about her?
History of the Traitors Gate in the Tower of London
Also known as Traitors’ Gate, this gate dates from the late 1270s, time when the nearby Torre de Santo Tomás served as the residence of the royal family. His original name was Water Gate o Puerta del Agua, since it was used by King Edward I of England and the other members of the royal family to enter their residence through the water.
However, with the passing of the years, the Tower of London began to be used as a prison of those who were accused of treason against the crown. These prisoners were led to the traitors’ tower through the water and had to go through the Water Gate. As of 1544, it begins to be known as “Puerta de los Traidores”.
The configuration of this door forced the prisoners to follow a route that passed under London Bridge in the direction of the tower. On their way, they saw the heads of the executed prisoners that were displayed on pikes located under the bridgea custom that lasted until the end of the 17th century.
The sight of the heads on pikes must have been unsettling for the prisoners arriving at the prison. A vision that accompanied them during the few days of life they had left, since very few came out of there alive.
Featured prisoners who passed through this gate
During the existence of this gate, thousands of prisoners passed through it, but there are some that stand out. Thus, during the time of the rule of the Tudor house, various recognized political prisoners passed through the Traitors’ Gate. Among these we can highlight Edward, Duke of Buckingham, Queen Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas MoreQueen Catherine Howard or Princess Elizabeth —the future Elizabeth I—.
The tragic story of Queen Anne Boleyn tells that in 1536 she was taken to the Tower of London, accused of treason, adultery and incest. So too, the queen’s brother George Boleyn, Sir Henry Norris and Lord Rochford passed through this gate on charges of adultery with the queen.
During Anne Boleyn’s stay in the Tower of London, she went from resignation to hysteria and depression. Her execution was carried out on May 19, 1536. Her daughter, Princess Elizabeth, future Queen Elizabeth I, also passed through the Traitors’ Gatedue to her half-sister, Queen Mary, ordering her arrest believing she was involved in Wyatt’s rebellion.
Elizabeth was captured on Palm Sunday in the year 1554 and taken to the Tower of London to go through the Traitors’ Gate. Walking through the door, the memory of her mother’s execution must have been recurrent in Isabel’s mind, since this had happened only a few years before.
Visit Traitors Gate and the Tower of London
During the first half of the 19th century, the outer arch of the door had to be bricked up, since the water level was constantly rising. At present, the Puerta de los Traidores is still walled up, but it is marked with the sign Entry to the Traitors’ Gate (‘entrance to the Gate of Traitors’).
This entrance can be seen with the naked eye from the opposite bank of the River Thames, but you will be able to see it better during the visit to the Tower of London. Thus, you will be able to get an idea of what the last days of those convicted of attacking the crown were like.
Of course, you must be attentive, since the visiting hours of the Tower of London can vary according to the time of year, so we recommend you visit their website. It will undoubtedly be an unforgettable visit.