The Queens House was built about 1530, probably for Queen Anne Boleyn, but she lived there only as a prisoner for 18 days awaiting her execution. The second queen of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I, she was beheaded on Tower Green by a French executioner for alleged infidelity; it is said she felt the French more skilled at the task of beheading. As a princess interned at the Bell Tower, Elizabeth I was permitted to dine here. Despite the presence of these and future Queens, the building was known until 1880 as the Lieutenant’s Lodgings.
It is a very fine example of half-timbered Tudor architecture. Within a few years of completion, a floor was inserted at second storey level in the lofty hall making what is known as the Council Chamber. The chamber has a magnificent 16 century rafted ceiling and contains an elaborate tablet commemorating the Gunpowder Plot erected in 1608 by the then Governor, Sir William Waad. In this room Guy Fawkes was interrogated and after torture on the rack in the White Tower, signed a confession incriminating his fellow conspirators.
Adjoining the Council Chamber is a room in which William Penn, the famous Quaker who founded the state of Pennsylvania, was once a prisoner. And in modern times the notorious Rudolph Hess, Nazi leader and German deserter during World War II, was imprisoned here.
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