One of the things not true about London includes the fact that the Tower of London or Tower of London was a place where so many executions were carried out.
In reality, executions in past centuries have been very few and the majority of all executions in the Tower of London were in the twentieth century. In fact, in all 21 people were executed in the Tower and 11 of these between 1914 and 1941.
In the first four hundred years of the Tower there were no executions or at least none that we know of. The first to lose his head was William Hastings in 1483. Baron Hastings, an English noble, was one of the followers of the House of York and, within the court, became one of the most trusted men of Edward IV of England.
He was executed at the behest of Edward’s brother. The famous Anna Boleyn followed, wife of Henry VIII in 1536. The Tudors loved to kill each other and in 1541 they cut off the head of Margaret Plantagenet Pole countess of Salisbury, daughter of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, one of the brothers of kings Edward IV and Richard III and therefore a royal princess by birth.
In 1542 it was the turn of Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife and Jane Boleyn who had married Anna’s brother George. In 1554 they cut off the head of Jane Grey who was queen of England and Ireland for only nine days.
The last to have his head cut off and the second man was the Earl of Essex Robert Devereux in 1601. He was also the first of three deserters who lost their lives at the Tower of London. The second was Corporal Malcolm Macpherson killed in 1743 and the third Farquhar Shaw also in 1743.
After this else happened nothing until 1914 when within a few years 10 people were shot to death for being accused of spying. The last was Josef Jakobs in 1941 who according to Wikipedia was a German spy and the last person executed at the Tower of London. He was captured shortly after skydiving in the UK during World War II. He too was shot.
For the first time you can visit Buckingham Palace’s gardens
For the first time, the famous Queen’s Gardens at Buckingham Palace will be opened. Normally only the Royal Family and those invited to the Queen’s parties can see them. The reason for this decision is that this summer there will be no traditional opening of part of the building because of the pandemic and to compensate they open the gardens.
Visitors will be able to wander the garden paths and experience the calm of this garden in the heart of London. You will see Horse Chestnut Avenue, the plane trees planted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the famous lake with its bee island of Buckingham Palace. You can also have a picnic on one of the lawns. The gardens will be open from 9 July to 19 September but there are also weekend tours in April and May. You can book your tickets here.
The statue remembering the children of Kindertransport
You might have seen the bronze monument at the entrance to Liverpool Street Station. You may not know what it is. The statue depicts the children of the Kindertransport which brought over 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to the United Kingdom.
We can see a little girl sitting on a suitcase with a teddy bear in her hand. The boy to her right holds a satchel and a violin case. The older girl behind him looks away as they wait to be picked up and separated.
The names of the cities on a stretch of track behind them show the places of origin of the children: Cologne – Hanover – Nuremberg – Stuttgart – Düsseldorf – Frankfurt – Bremen – Munich, Gdansk – Wroclaw – Prague – Hamburg – Mannheim – Leipzig – Berlin – Vienna
Between December 1938 and September 1939, nearly 10,000 Jewish children arrived on Liverpool Street via the port of Harwich and the Netherlands. Following the attacks on synagogues and German Jews instigated by the Nazi government at the Kristallnacht from 9 to 10 November 1938, the British government allowed children under 17 to immigrate, provided they found a foster family and a benefactor willing to give a deposit of 50 pounds.
The first to come were nearly 200 children from an orphanage that had been burned down in Berlin. The German authorities allowed children to carry a suitcase and a bag, with no valuables and only a photo. No adult escorts and no train station farewells were allowed.
10,000 children were separated and ended up in different places in Britain and few saw their parents again, many of whom died in concentration camps. A good number of the children decided to stay in Britain at the end of the war.
The strong tornado that destroyed London Bridge
Not many of you will know this story, but read on to find out about this extraordinary event that happened in 1091. Extraordinary not so much for having a tornado in London, but for its power.
On the morning of October 17, 1091, it seemed normal and no one was expecting a tornado. Not any tornado, but the strongest one recorded in London. In fact, it was probably a F4 or even F5 on the Fujita scale. Incredibly destructive with winds reaching 370 km per hour!
London was then almost entirely made of wood. There was just the White Tower of the Tower of London which was about ten years old and a few masonry churches. A tornado of this type blew almost everything away. Including London Bridge at the time that was partly destroyed by the tornado but also by the Thames current, which carried it away. It was still new having been built by William the Conqueror after 1066.
The famous church of St Mary-le-Bow was badly damaged, with the roof being thrown a certain distance violently. With so much force that the nine-meter-long beams were driven into the ground and only about a meter remained outside.
The river flooded the surrounding areas and not many buildings remained standing. London Bridge was rebuilt soon after, the main bridge connecting London with the southern parts of the country. The new bridge also had a short life, in 1140 it was destroyed by a fire.
Concerts coming up!
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