Wednesday Wander – Graffiti in the Beauchamp Tower

Wednesday Wander is back! I had a little bit of a break due to work and health turmoil, but it’s a new year, all is well, and it’s time to wander again. This week I’m taking a closer look at a part of the Tower Of London. I’ve written about the Tower before, and looked at some of the many doors, but it is a place so rich in history and significant buildings that I could probably write another half dozen posts and not cover it.

This week I’m wandering into the Beauchamp Tower. It looks and sounds rather a romantic place, but its history, as with many of the Tower buildings, is a sad one. From the 1300s it was used to hold high-ranking prisoners, including the Earl of Warwick (after whom the tower is named), the Dudley brothers, and Lady Jane Grey. Many of the prisoners, being wealthy and well-educated, left their mark upon the walls – this graffiti has been preserved and is now a popular attraction at the Tower.

The Beauchamp Tower overlooks the green where high-ranking prisoners, including Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, were executed. Lady Jane Grey watched from this window as her husband, Guildford Dudley, was beheaded, then was taken out and executed herself a short while later. The four Dudley brothers are commemorated within the tower in a piece of ornate carved graffiti, with roses for Ambrose, carnations for Guildford, oak leaves for Robert and honeysuckle for Henry.

Not all prisoners held in the tower were executed, but they must have seen their fair share of horrors through the leaded glass windows, and wondered whether they might be next. Despite the sunshine and the views, it was a cold place, not somewhere you would want to spend a lengthy amount of time. There are said to be ghosts in the Tower of London, and I wouldn’t be surprised if several of them were in the Beauchamp tower…

Thank you for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


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Wednesday Wander – Hampton Court Palace

Okay, so I’ve not wandered too far this week – a train ride, rather than a plane ride, away. Still, it’s to a rather interesting place. London is home to some wonderful palaces – I have another post about the Tower of London still to write – and Hampton Court Palace is one of the finest, a treasure trove of history, design and architecture.

Built by Cardinal Wolsey and taken over several years later by Henry VIII, the palace was constructed between 1515 and 1694. Not much of the original Tudor palace remains in its original state, as successive monarchs each sought to put their stamp on the building.The palace remained a royal residence until Victorian times, though George II was the last monarch to reside there. However, the monarch with whom the palace is most closely associated is Henry VIII. Oranges carved over an internal doorway are symbols of Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife, while the clock above is the Hampton Court astronomical clock, set in the Anne Boleyn gate, named for his second wife. Jane Seymour, his third wife, gave birth to their son Edward, and subsequently died there, two weeks later. It was also at Hampton Court that Henry learned of the infidelity of his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Imprisoned in her rooms, it is said she escaped and ran the length of the Haunted Gallery, screaming for mercy, but was recaptured and, eventually, executed.

Large landscaped gardens surround the building, running alongside the river Thames. One of the original 16th century tiltyard towers remains, part of Henry VIII’s jousting range, as does his Royal Tennis Court. My friend and I also walked the Hampton Court Maze, planted between 1689 and 1695 for William of Orange, the ancient green hedges taller than we were.

This is the Fountain Court, designed by Sir Christopher Wren during the reign of William and Mary, when a huge program of renovation took place at the palace. William and Mary wanted the design to reflect their status as equal monarchs, so two sets of apartments, equal in size and stature, were designed, as well as two identical interior staircases. However, when Mary passed away, William lost interest in the renovation project and work ceased.With all this history, it’s not surprising that the palace is reputed to be haunted. Several tourists have reported strange occurences, and then there’s ‘Skeletor’, a famous image captured on the CCTV cameras which has not been adequately explained. We didn’t see any ghosts, but we did see a rather dishy fellow, a cross between Damien Lewis and Tom HIddleston, decked out in full Elizabethan regalia, including a single pearl drop earring. Seeing him on the train later in civilian clothes rather spoiled the illusion… 😀

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Wednesday Wander – An Italian Villa, Tuscany (eventually)

Each week, when it’s time to write another Wednesday Wander, I cast around in my mind to see where I want to go. It’s usually a feeling that inspires me – perhaps the weather reminds me of somewhere I’ve visited, or I find a photograph, or see something on TV or online. This week I thought – Monaco. I haven’t wandered there as yet, though I remember it well. All pink sky and blue sea, roads cut into precipitous green hillsides, the scent of blossom and the glamour of the casino at Monte Carlo, me desperately trying to put together something approaching a sophisticated outfit from the rather less-than-sophisticated contents of my bag.

And yet, when I went to the photo album to grab the photos I definitely remember taking, there was nothing there. Zilch. Nada. I suppose it’s because of the technology of the time – it’s been over twenty years since I was there, and my (pre-digital) camera only worked sporadically on that trip. But at the time I didn’t really care, too taken with the sights I was seeing. I still feel the same way about travelling, keen to take everything in, but I usually end up with about three hundred photos as well, easily able to edit the ones that aren’t so great. And I guess that’s what happened here – the photos I took in Monaco didn’t work out for some reason; they were blurry, or I managed to get a thumb or some hair in the shot (happened more often than I like to think), so I decided to discard them when I got the prints.

There are other places I’ve visited where I’ve taken no photos at all – the Sistine Chapel, for example. If I remember right, we were told not to take any photos as we were herded through the many rooms leading to the chapel, at one point climbing out a window and walking along scaffolding, then climbing back in through another window (I am not making this up), an interesting exercise considering the crowds of people visiting that day (the Pope had just canonised four new saints). Leighton House, in London, is another place where interior photos are forbidden – I don’t know why, exactly.

Anyway, I have no Monaco photos. So, instead, I’ll just wander to this lovely Tuscan villa on the outskirts of Florence. Once a private home, it was reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a young woman. One night, as I was returning to my room, I walked along the darkened hallway… to see a young woman gliding towards me, her long hair flowing back. My heart almost stopped until I realised it was a young Japanese woman, also on her way to her room. The hall lights were on a timer and had switched off just at that moment, adding to the eerie feeling. For all that, it was a gorgeous place, the manicured gardens and old stone walls reminders of a time past.

So this week, perhaps, was a bit more of a meander than a wander, but thank you for coming along with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

#writephoto – Day 22 – We Dance

anglesey-bryn-holy-island-wales-001Sue Vincent’s #writephoto image this week is a gorgeous shot of mist and trees, and as soon as I saw it these words came to me:

We are mist, smoke, hidden things. We dance along branches and through the hedgerows, down chimneys and across the floorboards before slipping out into dusk once more.

You may see us, sometimes. A glimpse on a frosty morning, a flicker of light in shimmering twilight, a cool whisper in an ancient place. We are always here, though we are forgotten now.

Yet if you seek us you will find us, and we will welcome you. For we are part of you, despite the things people say. Despite the years of turning away, of relegating us to fairy mounds and haunted tales, we are still here.

And we dance, pale pinpricks of light in the gathering dark, a warm glow in a cold world. Mist and wood, ash and stone. You are never alone.

We are the old ones, and we dance.

To read more responses to the image, or to add one of your own, head over to Sue’s Blog. And yes, my response also covers today’s prompt for the 30 Day Writing Challenge, which is: Things People Say.


If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.