Posted on June 12th, 2009 2 comments
The Dungeon of the castle was the basement or lowest level and was normally used as a prison. It was no accident that this location was the most fortified and impossible to escape from. This area was also called the “keep” because it is where prisoners were kept. Bishop Gandolf of Rochester is given credit as the original developer of this architecture design when he created the White Tower. The tower was commissioned by William the Conqueror who demanded the fortress be made of Caen stone which had to be imported from France. In 1087, the White Tower was finished by William’s ancestors in 1087.
The White Tower was a royal palace as well as a prison primarily for high-ranging prisoners. Many princes, queens and the like spent time in its dungeon. The tower was known as a place of torture and execution for criminals and heretics.
Torture devices were used in the White Tower to gather information from prisoners in regards to possible revolts or threats to the royal crown. The Rack was one of the more common torture devices. The victim was placed on a slab, their arms and legs tied at either end, and then stretched until their joints dislocated. Another common practice was to hang a prisoner by their wrists in shackles bolted into a wall. The block and axe were commonly used to decapitate uncooperative prisoners. The Skeffinton Irons were also used to completely crush a prisoner if they did not comply with the demands of the interrogator. In the 17th Century, torture was dubbed as far too cruel for society and outlawed.
The White Tower stands today adjacent to the Thames River. It is more of a museum and attracts tourists from all over the world. A visitor can see the vast collection of weapons the castle had collected through the centuries along with Medieval Armor from past kings.