John Gerard and how he escaped the Tower of London

One of the Tower of London's most famous prisoners was John Gerard, a Jesuit from a northern Catholic family.

After studying on the Continent, he returned to England as a Jesuit priest, moving between families until he was captured in 1594.

At this time it was against the law to practice the Catholic faith, by order of the King.

He was imprisoned first in standard prisons in London – in the Counter, then the Clink prison in Southwark, and finally (in 1597) in the upper chamber in the Salt Tower at the Tower of London.

He was tortured but refused to renounce his faith or implicate his friends. 

The warders were reasonably kind to him when he wasn’t being tortured, and allowed his friends to send him food, clothing and other items!

He asked to be sent oranges which he shared with the guard, and used the juice of the oranges to write secret letters – the juice is invisible but when heated it appears…

Having made his plan, he escaped from the Tower in October that year and hid out in houses around England until 1606. 

He’s helped us learn a lot about imprisonment, torture and escape from the Tower as he wrote an autobiography in 1609!

Locked Up In The Tower, supported by Historic Royal Palaces