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Where Pocahontas met the Wizard Earl

Yesterday I wrote that I was tracking Pocahontas at the Tower of London. Here are a few more notes. I plan to write a proper article about this, after our trip. For now, I just want to share a few pictures.

The Tower of London is a fortress meant to keep invaders out, but it’s turned out to work well at keeping prisoners in, too.

Among the famous prisoners at the Tower was Sir Walter Raleigh, the man for whom Raleigh, North Carolina is named.

When Pocahontas visited London in 1616, Raleigh met her and took her to see his friend at the Tower.

Raleigh himself had just finished almost 13 years in the Tower.

The 9th Earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy, would spend 18 years there, starting in late 1605. His home was the Martin Tower.

The Martin Tower where they used to keep the Crown Jewels

The Martin Tower where they used to keep the Crown Jewels

 

There is a lovely view of Tower Bridge to be had en route to the Martin Tower by way of the Wall Walk.

Tower Bridge as seen from the Tower of London

Tower Bridge as seen from the Tower of London

 

 

Henry Percy, 9th Earl, was nicknamed the Wizard Earl. He loved science and alchemy and was always doing experiments and tinkering.

How can a prisoner do all that?

With enough money, a prisoner could do anything but leave. Percy had more than enough money. He was one of the wealthiest men in the kingdom. The Martin Tower was his private home, with room for his laboratory, his servants, and outside, a tennis court and a bowling alley put in at his request.

 

A gargoyle at the Tower of London

A gargoyle at the Tower of London

 

Why was the Earl in the Tower?

As it happens, yesterday was the anniversary of the event that caused it.

On the night of the 5th of November every year, there are bonfires and fireworks all over England. This is Guy Fawkes Day, a holiday since 1605. On that day, a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament was discovered and thwarted.

In gratitude for his life having been spared, King James I decreed that November 5th should be an annual holiday.

Ironically, the holiday has come to be called after the number one conspirator, Guy Fawkes.

Henry Percy probably wasn’t involved in the Gunpowder Plot but was implicated in what sounds to me like a trumped-up case. King James had him thrown into the Tower and that was that, the Wizard Earl had to do his wizarding in a comfortable jail.

Throughout the Tower, there are remnants of graffiti scratched into the walls. I found this bit in the gift shop in the bottom of the Martin Tower. It’s dated 1606. I believe the Wizard Earl was incarcerated at the Tower starting late in 1605. If he had the Martin Tower to himself from the start then whoever scratched this appears to have done it during the Earl’s time there. And, had she entered the Martin Tower through the same door as I did, Pocahontas would have seen this wall art for herself.

 

 

Graffiti from 1606 in the Martin Tower at the Tower of London

Graffiti from 1606 in the Martin Tower at the Tower of London

 

Pocahontas was wearing a fancy pair of earrings when she and Walter Raleigh went to see the Earl.

The Earl asked her to leave the earrings with him for repair, and when she got them back, the silver settings had been fixed. These earrings may be the same ones as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities now own. I missed seeing them, but I read that they were on display in an exhibit in London a few years ago.

 

I was glad to get into both the Bloody Tower and the Martin Tower, where Walter Raleigh and the Wizard Earl had their respective households in prison. Both of those towers are open to visitors.

 

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Barbara Bell
    November 6, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    I love this. Can’t wait for next installment!

  • Reply
    susanonthesoapbox
    November 6, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Fascinating! Especially the part about the comfy life of the Wizard Earl.

  • Reply
    Nancy Zantinge
    November 7, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    Posting the link to my page so my friends who say the first installment can read on

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