Ghosts of London William Wallace

DIRECTIONS

Continue along Giltspur Street and pause alongside the plaque commemorating Sir William Wallace which is on the wall to your right.

 

The “Smoothfield“, as Smithfield was originally known, was for many years one of London’s places of execution. In August 1305, Sir William Wallace, Braveheart, was put to death here, and a grey granite plaque on the wall of St Bartholomew’s hospital still commemorates his heroic exploits.

He, however, is not one of the ghosts that haunt the spot where his life was ended all those centuries ago. The ghosts of Smithfield belong to a later rain when Mary Tudor attepted to restore England to the Catholic faith and chose to do it using fire and the sword.

In the reign of Queen Mary Tudor, over two hundred Protestants were put to death in England, and many of them were burnt at Smithfield. ‘Bloody Mary’ was emphatic that green wood should not be used, since its smoke was likely to suffocate the victims before they suffered the full agony of the flames. We can only guess at the terrible suffering endured by those who perished here, as Mary strove to undo the work of her father, Henry V111 and her brother Edward V1, and bring Catholicism back to the people of England, using fire and the sword. For some of her victims, the torment appears to have proved eternal, and those who work in the area in the early hours of some mornings, have often been disturbed by anguished and agonised screams that rend the air, and by the sickly smell of burning flesh that is carried upon the night breezes