This was a very cruel way to die and it was used to convince a prisoner who refused to give a plea of innocent or guilty to change their mind. If no plea was given then a trial could not take place. Pressing took place inside prisons like Newgate or the fleet. The accused was laid on a table and had another table put on top of them. Then lead, rocks and weights were put on until they either decided to plea or were crushed to death.
The prison guards or ‘Keepers’ fed the victim with ‘Three morsels of barley bread without drink for the first day and as much filthy water as they like if they survived to the next day.’
The execution of Anne Boleyn has been portrayed in so many books and films that it is easy to forget that she was once a real breathing human being and not just a character in a play. Unlike us, Anne did not know the end of her script until the cold morning of 19th May 1536 and for her it must have been a terrifying and shocking end.
The London Stone was originally situated on the south side of medieval Candlewick Street (Now Cannon Street) opposite the west end of St Swithins church. This was very close to the homes of Henry VII’s financial agents Edmund Dudley and his next door neighbour Richard Epson. Both were falsely executed as traitors in 1510 and were Henry VIII’s first scapegoats for his father’s unpopular policies.
For centuries Speakers corner in Hyde park has been the place where Londoners have stood on boxes and practised their right of free speech. Today some speakers talk complete nonsense to make the crowd laugh, others tell smutty jokes and some shout their political or religious views to the London crowd who boo or applaud.
I remember walking through this area as a child and being fascinated by its strange atmosphere and the strong feelings of the speakers and listeners.
It was on this site close to Marble Arch where the infamous Tyburn hanging tree once stood and it was at the foot of these gallows that the tradition of free speech began.
It was at Tyburn that condemned prisoners gave their last speech on the gallows before their death making the area an ideal place for public debate and discussion. From this hanging tree culture speakers corner evolved into what it is today and the right of free speech was born.