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Read Charles Dickens and you’ll know what a grim place London used to be. Jack The Ripper has walking tours dedicated to him and parts of the East End are still associated with the notorious Kray Twins. Here are a few other historical links.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Gore

The Bridewell

Tothill Fields Prison, or Bridewell, was a House of Correction dating back to 1633. Its main purpose was to provide meaningless work, such as the treadmill, for those being provided with poor relief, discouraging them from ‘idleness’. This tiny 17th-century gate - the main gate - is the last remnant.

Little Sanctuary SW1
Tube: Westminster

Hung Drawn & Quartered

‘I went out to Charing Cross, to see Major-general Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition,’ wrote Samuel Pepys of an execution at Charing Cross. This pub, close to Tower Hill execution block, borrows the quotation.

26-27 Great Tower Street EC3
Tube: Tower Hill

Tyburn Gallows

London’s most used gallows saw public hangings from at least 1100AD. The ‘Tyburn Tree’ was a triangular scaffold that hung several people at once: in June, 1649, 23 men and a woman were hanged together. The last victim was highwayman John Austin in 1783 for robbery and murder on the road to London.

Cnr Bayswater Road/Park Lane W2
Tube: Marble Arch

Tower Hill Execution Block

Beside the Merchant Seamen Memorial is a set of plaques marking the deaths of more than 125 people - most of them held prisoner at the Tower of London - who were executed here for treason. These include Sir Thomas More in 1535 and Lord Lovat (aged 80) in 1747 - the last beheading here.

Tower Hill EC3
Tube: Tower Hill

Coldbath Fields Prison

This house of correction lasted from 1794 to 1889. The ground it covered now houses the massive Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, giving you an idea of its size. Known for its harsh conditions, its prisoners were forbidden to talk to each other and did hard labour.

Mount Pleasant EC1
Tube: Farringdon

The Blind Beggar

In March 1966, East End gangster Ronnie Kray shot a rival gangster, George Cornell, three times in the head here for calling him a ‘fat old poof’. Kray was later sentenced to life in prison. (William Booth also gave his first sermon near here in 1865 - the birth of The Salvation Army.)

337 Whitechapel Road E1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7247 6195
Tube: Whitechapel

William Wallace Memorial

As gruesomely shown by Mel Gibson in 'Braveheart', this is the spot where Sir William Wallace was hung, drawn and quartered in 1305 after being found guilty of treason. The damage to the walls nearby is from a German Zeppelin raid of September 1915, during World War I.

West Smithfield EC1
Tube: Barbican/St Paul’s

Martyr’s Memorial

Mounted in the wall of St Bartholomew's Hospital, this tablet records the death of several Protestant martyrs who were publicly burnt at the stake here in 1555-1557, usually after having been tortured to recant. About 200 people were executed during the reign of Queen Mary.

West Smithfield EC1
Tube: Barbican/St Paul’s

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