Do you recognize this place?
You probably know more about it than you think you do. Just from looking at it, one might think it a lovely castle, with a curiosity fence surrounding it so that well meaning visitors don't come too close.
This is the Tower of London in England.
During the reign of Henry VIII, this particular building, or rather it's grounds, saw many bloody beheadings. And it was only recently that I learned of ancestors who were sent here at old Henry's request!
Lord Thomas Howard, my 10th great grand uncle, son of Sir Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (my 10th great-grandfather), was imprisoned here in early July 1536. He had secretly become engaged to Lady Margaret, the King's sister, and his successor to the throne after his two daughters. The king became enraged over the secret engagement. Both Sir Thomas Howard and Lady Margaret Tudor were thrown into the Tower of London. On 18 July 1536 an Act of Attainder accusing Lord Howard of attempting to 'interrupt ympedyte and lett the seid Succession of the Crowne' was passed in both houses of Parliament. The Act sentenced Howard to death, and forbade the marriage of any member of the King's family without his permission.
While in the Tower, Lady Margaret came down with a fever. She was moved to Sion Abbey, where she was allowed to recuperate. Howard, however, remained in the Tower. His death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment in the Tower.
On 31 October 1537, Howard died from a "fatal illness", while still in the Tower. His corpse was turned over to his mother (my 10th great grandmother), the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. She was given strict instructions to bury him most swiftly and "without pomp". (Funerals for the elite were large lavish affairs, and often cost several thousand pounds back then, equivalent to over a million dollars today.) His mother then buried him immediately at Thetford Abbey.
This is all that remains of Thetford Abbey (or Thetford Priory) today. It is here that Sir Thomas Howard lies buried. If there are graves remaining here, there are no stones to mark their place.
Sir Thomas was but one of a few of my ancestors who was held in the Tower. And we'll talk later about beheadings of a few of those! (Oh Henry...you were such a naughty boy!)