Sir Walter Raleigh and secret marriages

In Locked Up in The Tower, Annabel’s uncle is a Beefeater, one of the special Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London!

He’s always telling her about the famous prisoners the Tower of London has held over the years so she’s taking us on a tour to check the place out for ourselves!

One of the most famous prisoners was Sir Walter Raleigh, an explorer from the 17th Century, who is best known for making tobacco popular in England, especially in the royal court.

In 1594 Raleigh heard of a “City of Gold” in South America, and set off to find it. He wrote a book about his travels and this made many people believe in the legend of “El Dorado.”

He’s one of the Tower of London’s most famous prisoners, having spent several years within the walls, after offending two monarchs, Queen Elizabeth, and later King James 1st. 

He displeased the Queen for secretly marrying one of the ladies of the court, and so was first imprisoned and punished by a stay of several weeks.  

The next monarch, King James 1st did not like Raleigh and believed he was plotting to remove him from the throne.

This earned Sir Walter a ten year stay at the tower, where he was joined by his family and was allowed a degree of freedom to write and study.

The legends of El Dorado persisted and so in 1616 he was released to try to find the mythical country one last time. 

The expedition failed, not least as the country did not exist, and, on his travels, Sir Walter nearly started a war with the Spanish – a terrible crime which led to his final imprisonment, and eventual execution by beheading in 1618.