Crime and Punishment
unishment for crimes could be very harsh in the Tudor period. For minor crimes, people might have to pay a fine. Sometimes criminals were carried on a cart through the streets, wearing a sign explaining their crime. People were also put in the stocks (a wooden device that locked around their head, wrists or feet) in the street or publically whipped. Crowds would gather to jeer at them and throw things.
Criminals could be thrown into prison to wait for their trial and whatever punishment was decided. One of the worst prisons in London was Newgate where living conditions for poor prisoners were horrible. Prisoners had to pay for their own bedding, heating and food so if they did not have enough money they really suffered. The Tower of London was also a prison. Many important people were imprisoned here while they waited to find out their punishment. Some unlucky prisoners were tortured or locked in a deep, black hole called the Pit.
Find out what it was like to be a rich prisoner in the Tower of London
Painting of the Beauchamp Tower where noble prisoners were held at the Tower of London, 1798
Find out about some of the famous Tudor prisoners in the Tower of London
Plan of the Tower of London, 1597
Find out how less fortunate prisoners were tortured at the Tower of London
Photo of the Tower of London, taken in 2006
View of the Tower of London from the River Thames, 1647
Find out about the Great Hall at the Guildhall, which was a banqueting hall and court room
Find out about conditions for rich and poor prisoners at Newgate prison
View of Newgate Prison as it would have looked about 1600
Find out about ‘jail fever’ and the poor conditions for prisoners in Newgate prison
The death penalty
any crimes, such as murder, treason, witchcraft and highway robbery were punishable by death. Death was usually by hanging, though for treason criminals were also cut into pieces and their heads displayed on London Bridge. People accused of religious crimes (refusing to follow the official religion) were burnt at the stake.