Tower Hill (Tower of London)

Some of my favorite moments traveling are when you unexpectedly stumble upon something of interest: no guidebooks, no crowds of tourists, no queuing for tickets, no asking directions.

All of a sudden, it's just there, something of interest.

Last night while waiting for the Jack the Ripper walking tour to begin, I visited the nearby Merchant Navy Falkland Islands Memorial, where sailors are remembered for their role in whatever happened at the Falkland Islands. It may have been part of a larger naval memorial, because there were tens of thousands of names, all sailors who died at sea or in service, and I don't think the Falkland Islands ever resulted in tens of thousands of twentieth-century deaths.

Adjacent to the naval memorial(s), there is a plaque commemorating a scaffold where people once suffered and died. Still thinking that it was part of the naval memorial, I wondered, Why would a temporary structure be erected as a place where sailors would suffer and die?

Initially I thought, gallows. Instead, it was beheading.

It turned out to be a former Tower of London execution spot. From the 1300s to the 1700s, more than 100 prisoners were executed at the scaffolding on Tower Hill, including Sir Thomas More, who sided with the pope in a dispute between the Church and King Henry VIII. Imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534, and tried for treason in 1535, More was beheaded on Tower Hill.