The Tower Is Full of Ghosts Today by Alison Weir

  Copyright © 2017 Alison Weir

  The right of Alison Weir to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  First published in Great Britain in this Ebook edition in 2017 by



  Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

  All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library

  Ebook conversion by Avon DataSet Ltd, Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire

  eISBN: 978 1 4722 5299 9


  An Hachette UK Company

  Carmelite House

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  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  About Alison Weir

  Also by Alison Weir


  About The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today

  The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today

  Read on for a glimpse of

  Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen

  Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession

  Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen

  About Alison Weir

  Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian (and the fifth-bestselling historian overall) in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She has published seventeen history books, including The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Princes in the Tower, Elizabeth the Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII: King and Court, Katherine Swynford, The Lady in the Tower and Elizabeth of York. Alison has also published seven historical novels, including Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, the second in her series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII, which began with the Sunday Times bestseller Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen. Alison is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Life Patron of Historic Royal Palaces, and is married with two adult children.

  Also by Alison Weir

  The Six Tudor Queens series

  Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen

  Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession

  Arthur: Prince of the Roses (e-short)

  The Blackened Heart (e-short)


  Innocent Traitor

  The Lady Elizabeth

  The Captive Queen

  A Dangerous Inheritance

  The Marriage Game

  Quick Reads

  Traitors of the Tower


  Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy

  The Six Wives of Henry VIII

  The Princes in the Tower

  Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses

  Children of England: The Heirs of King Henry VIII 1547–1558

  Elizabeth the Queen

  Eleanor of Aquitaine

  Henry VIII: King and Court

  Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley

  Isabella: She-Wolf of France, Queen of England

  Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and His Scandalous Duchess

  The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn

  Mary Boleyn: ‘The Great and Infamous Whore’

  Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen

  The Lost Tudor Princess

  As co-author

  The Ring and the Crown: A History of Royal Weddings, 1066–2011



  ‘This is Anne Boleyn as you have never seen her before. I could not put it down’ Tracy Borman

  ‘An unforgettable portrait of the ambitious woman whose fate we know all too well, but whose true motivations may surprise you’ Telegraph

  ‘A triumph of fine detail . . . a complex depiction of an endlessly fascinating woman’ Elizabeth Fremantle

  ‘The story of Boleyn has been told many times, and from many angles, but this could be the best adaptation so far. A cracking read’ Lady

  ‘Detailed, immaculately researched and convincing’ The Times

  ‘Alison Weir’s wonderfully detailed novel offers a spellbinding solution to the mystery of Anne’s true nature . . . At once an enthralling read, and a real contribution to our sense of the sixteenth century’ Sarah Gristwood

  ‘Alison Weir has brought English history’s most famous “other woman” compellingly to life . . . A must for all lovers of historical fiction’ Linda Porter

  ‘Simply a masterpiece’ Susan Ronald

  ‘Not only a world apart from any other novel on Anne Boleyn, it is also an exquisite work of literary art’ Nicola Tallis

  ‘Anne comes alive and leaps from the page, fascinating, enthralling, full blooded . . . A brilliant evocation of the period . . . Wonderful’ Kate Williams


  ‘Well researched and engrossing’ Good Housekeeping

  ‘Weir is excellent on the little details that bring a world to life’ Guardian

  ‘Alison Weir brings Katherine of Aragon dazzlingly to life . . . A charismatic, indomitable and courageous heroine’ Tracy Borman

  ‘Yet again, Alison Weir has managed to intertwine profound historical knowledge with huge emotional intelligence, to compose a work that throws light on an endlessly fascinating historical figure. Yet her real gift in all of this is making it feel so fresh and alive’ Charles Spencer

  ‘Alison Weir is in command of her detail . . . her handling of Katherine’s misery and dignified response to her predicament is very touching’ Daily Mail

  ‘Weir’s undeniable strength is her immaculate description enabling the reader to be transported back to Tudor England’ Sun

  ‘A tender understanding of and genuine sympathy for this proud, much-loved and honourable Queen . . . I was gripped [from] start to finish’ Mavis Cheek

  ‘[An] ambitious, engrossing novel . . . Fascinating’ Sunday Express S Magazine

  About The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today

  Jo, historian and long-term admirer of Anne Boleyn, takes a group on a guided tour of the Tower of London, to walk in the shoes of her Tudor heroine. But as she becomes enthralled by the historical accuracy of her tour guide and the dramatic setting that she has come to love, something spectral is lurking in the shadows . . .

  Contains first chapters of Sunday Times bestsellers Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, and Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, as well as the upcoming Six Tudor Queens novel about Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen.

  ‘Welcome back, everyone!’ Jo counted heads as her group gathered in the clearing at the bottom of the greensward that sloped down from the White Tower. The sun was shining down mercilessly, and she wanted to be on the move so that she could get them into the shade. Some tour guests were still emerging from the Medieval Palace Shop. During the lunch break she’d seen others watching re-enactors in Stuart costume giving a lively performance of Colonel Blood stealing the crown j
ewels, and had hoped that it wouldn’t go on too long and delay their return. She had the costumed guide-lecturer booked for two o’clock, and it was now a quarter to. Always allow more time than you need: that was her mantra.

  She finished the head count. They were all here, even the nice couple who were habitually late for everything.

  ‘Thank you for being so prompt!’ she smiled. ‘Any moment now our guide for the Anne Boleyn walk will be here.’ It was going to be the highlight of the day, the treat they were all waiting for. It seemed that everyone who came to the Tower of London wanted to hear about Anne Boleyn. It had been a piece of luck, finding a guide who came complete with an authentic Tudor costume and could expertly lead the group around the sites connected with the celebrated Queen’s imprisonment and execution. Jo was looking forward to meeting her; she had come very well recommended.

  ‘I can’t wait!’ said one of the women in the group. They were all passionately interested in everything Tudor.

  ‘It should be good,’ Jo said. ‘You’ll get the truth from the guide-lecturers here, not the film version!’

  ‘Anne Boleyn’s my heroine,’ said a young guest, opening a locket to reveal a portrait of Anne – the famous one from the National Portrait Gallery. Jo, a historian herself, knew Anne’s face as well as she knew her own: it was long, thin and vivacious, just like that of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I.

  ‘The guide’s here,’ she said, seeing a lady in Tudor dress advancing towards them. ‘She’s early too. And what a gown!’ It was an exact replica, in sumptuous black velvet, of the elegant attire Anne wore in her portrait. Even the French hood – no easy thing to get right – was perfect.

  ‘Historic Royal Palaces are very fussy about authenticity,’ Jo said. ‘Just look at that!’ The woman even had a look of Anne. Certainly she had the right colouring: dark hair and dark eyes.

  ‘Hello, good sirs, ladies,’ the guide greeted them. Jo smiled. Groups loved it when guides got into character. This was going to be good, as she had promised. Even the French accent sounded right. Hats off to HRP!

  ‘I am Anne the Queen,’ the guide continued, ‘and I am going to show you the places where I spent my last days.’ She turned to face the White Tower. ‘To our left is the site of the Queen’s Lodgings, where I was imprisoned. You’ll have to use your imagination, as those foundations are all that remain, but my apartments were splendid. They were done up at great cost for my coronation. But before we walk around and see them more closely, we will walk to Traitors’ Gate, although it was called the Water Gate in my day.’ Holding her hand aloft, her fur over-sleeve trailing down her skirt, she led the way through the archway that led to the Outer Ward.

  ‘This is Water Lane,’ she said, ‘and before you is Traitors’ Gate. I did not enter the Tower here, whatever the sign says!’ The group laughed, rapt. They were hanging on her every word. ‘You have to see it, though, because later on many so-called traitors were brought into the Tower this way, including the poor men who were falsely accused with me, and my great friend, poor Archbishop Cranmer, whose only crime was his love of the true religion. But Queen Mary remembered that he had divorced her mother, Katherine of Aragon, so that King Henry could marry me, and she had him burned at the stake. There were no burnings in my time as queen. I was a great friend to the Gospel, and the King heeded me.’

  She had really done her homework. It was great, Jo thought, when you got someone who was highly knowledgeable.

  As the guide went on to speak about the other illustrious or notorious prisoners who had come through Traitors’ Gate, Jo saw another group approaching. This was going to be a scrum, she thought, given the narrowness of Water Lane. As the two groups seemed to merge, she found herself staring at a young woman in that group. Never had she seen such a gaunt, haunted face. Yet what really struck her was the uncanny resemblance to Anne Boleyn’s portrait: the high cheekbones, the small mouth, the black eyes, dark hair and whitish pallor. And although the girl was with a group, she did not seem to be a part of it. They were all listening to one of the Yeomen Warders, but she seemed to be fixated on Traitors’ Gate, oblivious to all else, and in her eyes there was an expression of pure misery. But there was nothing unusual about her in other ways: she wore jeans and a sweater, and carried a camera.

  Jo kept staring at her until she realised that her own group was moving on. They walked a little way until their guide paused by a dark arch beneath the Byward Tower.

  ‘Through here is the former Court Gate, the postern opening on to the River Thames. It was the royal entrance to the Tower in my day, and this is where I entered on the second day of May in the year of Our Lord 1536. And it was here, on the cobbles, that I sank to my knees and protested my innocence of the terrible crimes of which I was accused.’ Her words evoked for the group the poignant scene on that long-ago evening and the agony of the doomed Queen. They were entranced.

  They retraced their steps along Water Lane, walking, their guide told them, in Anne Boleyn’s footsteps. ‘This was where the Constable of the Tower led me to my lodgings.’ Again they paused at the Medieval Palace Shop.

  ‘On this site,’ the guide said, ‘stood the King’s Hall, the great hall of the Tower. It was here, on the fifteenth day of May, 1536, that I was tried and condemned to be burned or beheaded at the King’s pleasure. It was only later that I realised that my husband the King must have sent for the headsman – the famous Sword of Calais – before my trial. This swordsman was renowned for his skill in cutting off heads.’ She paused, and the hubbub all around them might have ceased. The guests were waiting eagerly for her to go on.

  ‘When the sentence was read out, I lifted my eyes to Heaven and protested my innocence – but it did me no good! The King was set on marrying that wench Seymour!’

  ‘Didn’t Thomas Cromwell play a large part in bringing down Anne Boleyn?’ a guest asked.

  ‘Cromwell!’ The guide’s eyes flashed. ‘Oh yes! He hated me, for he feared I would ruin him. So he pre-empted me. He was a man without scruples.’

  ‘Not if you read Hilary Mantel!’ muttered one of the group.

  The guide smiled at him as she led them up the steps to where the ground sloped towards the White Tower. She pointed at it. ‘It was there, in what I knew as Caesar’s Tower, that the little Princes were murdered, fifty years before I became queen. King Richard, the usurper, had them shut up there because they had a better claim to the throne than he did. And we all know what happens to inconvenient royal personages!’

  ‘He didn’t murder them,’ a man said firmly.

  ‘Who truly knows?’ The guide looked piercingly at him. ‘In my day most people thought that he did. On dark nights they say you can see their little faces at a window in that keep.’ Everyone looked up, their eyes focused on the windows high above, as if trying to see or imagine the boys’ pale, anxious faces looking out.

  ‘I guess you have many ghosts here at the Tower,’ a lady from Kansas said.

  ‘People see what they want to see,’ the guide said. She looked at the man who had spoken in defence of Richard III. ‘And they believe what they want to believe. Sometimes it is hard to tell what is truth and what is legend. This place is full of legends.’

  They had skirted the White Tower and come to a stop by the wide steps that descended past the Bloody Tower.

  ‘Look down,’ the guide instructed, ‘and you will see the remains of the Coldharbour Gate. That was the only way into the Inmost Ward where the royal palace was, where I was confined. On the nineteenth day of May, 1536, I walked through that gate to my execution. I was escorted by the Constable, his Lieutenant and a guard of two hundred yeomen warders. Four young ladies attended me. I was trying to be resolute and brave, but I was distracted by their weeping.’

  The group they had passed earlier came to a halt next to them. Again Jo saw the pale young woman with dark hair and eyes. There was something stark and unsettlin
g about her. Jo was still struck by the uncanny resemblance to Anne Boleyn. The girl was staring at the broken masonry of the great gate. Her pallor was almost unearthly.

  Jo realised that her own group was again moving on.

  ‘What’s that building there, with the sentries in front?’ a man asked.

  ‘It’s the Queen’s House, the residence of the Governor of the Tower,’ the guide said. ‘In my day it was the Lieutenant’s Lodging.’

  ‘I read that Anne was imprisoned there,’ a guest told her.

  ‘No, it was too dilapidated for that. I was lodged in the Queen’s apartments.’

  The guide turned, her long skirts sweeping behind her. For the umpteenth time Jo found herself admiring that beautiful and very authentic-looking French hood. She resolved to give the woman a good tip, because she knew her stuff so well.

  The guide waved a hand dismissively at the new glass memorial on Tower Green, in front of the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula. ‘For a long time people have mistakenly thought that Queen Anne died on that spot,’ she said, ‘but it was over there that the scaffold was set up, before the old House of Ordnance, facing Caesar’s Tower.’ She led them to a place just in front of the entrance to the Waterloo Barracks, where people were queuing to see the Crown Jewels.

  ‘It was here, on the tournament ground, where there was space to accommodate a large crowd. They wanted everything above-board, so that justice was seen to be done. The public were allowed in. Over a thousand came to watch.’

  Once more the group were engrossed, straining to hear. The guide looked from face to face, her gaze intent. When she spoke, her voice wavered. ‘I walked to the scaffold with my head held high.’ She paused, as if for effect. It was clear she was living the experience in her head, as good re-enactors should.

  ‘I wore a grey gown, a red kirtle, and a short ermine cape. I declared I had been a good wife, and praised the King’s gentleness to me. You understand that I did not want to risk my family suffering any more than they had already, which they might have done if I had questioned King Henry’s justice. I myself took off my hood and bandaged my eyes, for my maids were too distressed to help. Then I knelt in the straw and covered my feet with my skirts, for modesty. There was no block. They distracted me . . .’

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