Memorial for the gallows where Catholic martyrs met their end: ‘Tyburn Tree’ in central London was scene of brutal post-Reformation purge

For centuries, the “Tyburn Tree” near Marble Arch in London was a place of abject horror for Catholics. Between 1535 and 1679 nearly 400 Roman Catholics were executed on the triple-pillared gallows for refusing to recant their faith, as priest hunters scoured Britain looking for traitors to the post-Reformation crown. Even to this day devotees make an annual pilgrimage to the site and it is not unusual to see flowers and rosaries placed on the busy traffic island near Speaker’s Corner where the gallows once stood. Since the 1950s the site has been marked simply by a stone roundel but Westminster City Council has begun looking for ideas for a more fitting memorial in honour of the hundreds of martyrs who swung from the Tyburn Tree – one that will very publicly associate one of Britain’s busiest shopping areas with the persecution of Catholics.