Driving past The London Dungeon recently I noticed that they charge £68 for a family ticket to have that gruesome experience of death in its many guises, but with queues around the block of people willing to pay that exorbitant amount there must an insatiable appetite for death.
So for you, dear reader, who like that sort of thing, I have done some research about Tyburn Gallows.
[E]rected in 1571 condemned prisoners were driven there in a cart, via St. Giles in the Fields where they received a mug of ale, they dressed either in mourning or in the dress of a bridegroom if they could. Unfortunately the clothes, post-mortem, were the property of the hangman. Well cabbies still expect a tip! In 1447 five men had already been hanged, cut down while still alive, stripped, and marked out of quartering when their pardon arrived, but the hangman declined to give them back their clothes and they were obliged to walk home naked. It really must have been one of those days.
Hanging days were public holidays, as it was considered that the sight of an execution would prove a deterrent. Twenty-one prisoners could be hanged at once (time and motion consultants were even around in the 16th century), and convention dictated the order of precedence so that highwaymen as ”the aristocrats of crime’, and the most popular were dispatched first, then common thieves, with traitors being left to bring up the rear. With over 300 offences carrying the death penalty, there was never a shortage of participants.
The site of the gallows is marked by a stone in the traffic island at Marble Arch. But some historians suggest that the original site is on a spot near the south-west corner of Connaught Square.
Now recently Connaught Square, which was once known as Tyburnia, has gained another form of notoriety in the shape of one of its residents. Number 29 only five doors from the gallows site is now the London residence of ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Now if only some of the old traditions were revived that would really pull in the punters.