Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Photo of the Day: An Unexpectedly Savage Place

You’d never know, from the bright sunshine of this midwinter day and the trees, not to mention the peeps at contemporary metropolitan London in the background, that the structure in this photo I took from a tour bus several weeks ago once inspired terror. But that’s what the Tower of London used to do--and, truth be told, maybe you get a hint of the dread it inspired from the sight of its parapets.

This is where they lodged enemies of the state, and in the time of King Henry VIII it had more than its share of residents (Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell), once in the favor of the mad monarch, then finding themselves, terrifyingly, on the outside.  One of my posts that had the most hits described how a Jesuit, in perhaps the worst period for Catholics in England, under Queen Elizabeth I, managed to escape from this nearly impregnable prison.

The continuing fascination that people have with this once-savage place (not used to house a prisoner since Hitler deputy Rudolf Hess, astoundingly, landed in the country early in WWII) can best be seen by the fact that a movie called Tower of London, about Richard III (before the revisionists and modern archaeologists got hold of him), was made about it, then remade. Naturally, these were horror movies. (Just what you'd expect, with Boris Karloff and Vincent Price in the casts.)

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