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Tales of the Tower: Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

She was born at a time when England was at the height of the Wars of the Roses and was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence. Much of Margaret Pole’s early life was marred by tragedy including the death of her Uncle King Edward IV, the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower and the death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth signalling the demise of the House of York and the rise of the House of Tudor.

Though Margaret remained in favour with the Tudor’s since she waa a cousin of Queen Elizabeth wife of Henry VII. Though it would be the Tudor dynasty that would ultimately be responsible for the barbaric demise of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.

While in the early reign of King Henry VIII, Margaret held various positions within Court that kept her in the highest regard. It was in the late 1520s and early 1530s that Margaret’s relations with the Crown became strained, owing to her support of Katherine of Aragon and The Princess Mary.

The fact that many members of her family were speaking out against King Henry VIII and his wicked advisors didn’t help matters for the Countess of Salisbury. She was arrested and kept under lock and key at William Fitzwilliam’s residence before being transferred to the Tower of London.

Margaret Pole was tried and convicted for her implication in a protest known as ‘The Pilgrimage of Grace’ for which she swore her innocence.

Margaret Pole was executed on Tower Green on 27th May 1541 and her execution was considered to be one of the most gruesome undertaken at the Tower. It is believed that the executioner could not get a clean blow with the axe, and it took several attempts for her head to come off. It also didn’t help that the Countess put up a bit of a fight.

Margaret Pole was buried in the Church of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower and there have been various sightings of the scorned Countess ever since, usually at the site of her execution where the terrified spectre returns to re-enact the final moments of her tragedy-filled life.


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