London – Tower of London (Salt Tower and Hew Draper Graffiti)

There is quite a lot of graffiti on the walls of the Salt Tower, much of which was created by those who were imprisoned here, although a little unfortunately seems to be rather more recent.

This is one of the most impressive pieces of graffiti I’ve seen though, credited to the brewer Hew Draper of Bristol, who conveniently dated it to 30 May 1561. By this time Draper had already been imprisoned in the tower for fourteen months, for the alleged crime of sorcery. The information panel notes:

“The sphere is surrounded by the signs of the zodiac. The grid on the left shows the planetary influence over every hour of every day of the week”.

A photo of the same graffiti, taken in 1898 by Sir Benjamin Stone, when the tower was used by Yeoman Warders for their accommodation. The fate of Draper isn’t known, with the Tower’s records not giving any information on whether he died or was freed. Missing records are hardly rare, but this hasn’t stopped some people suggesting that Draper managed to spirit himself away to avoid punishment. This graffiti was mentioned in the media as early as 1810, so it appears to have puzzled and intrigued many generations.