Object Title

Execution Block

Execution Block



Object Number



Pre 1825 - in the possession of Yeoman Warder John Poyndon. 1825 - Given by Poyndon to the Record Office. Accepted by Mr. John Bayley, handed on to Mr. Lysons and in turn to Mr. Petrie. 1839 - Presented to the Armouries by Mr. Petrie. By tradition this is the block used at the execution of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, in 1747. 1870 inventory - XVIII.24 1916 ffoulkes inventory: XV.3 (p.438) The post Ffoulkes inventory gave the provenance of the block as follows: 'For a time it was in the possession of a Yeoman Warder of the Tower, John Poydon, who presented it to the Record Office in 1825. It was transferred to the Armouries in 1866 when the Record Office was moved to Chancery Lane.' The 1857 Remain however shows the block to have been in the Armouries at this time, and also gives a different donor: ''Queen Elizabeth's Armoury' Block Beheading, supposed to have been the one used in beheading the Lords Balmeris, Kilmarnock and Lovat, on Tower Hill 1746, and presented by H. Petrie Esq F.S.A in 1839.' These two seemingly conflicting statements can probably be reconciled by reference to Hewitt's[1870] and Ffoulkes's[1916] Catalogues. Hewitt, describing the block under its old number of XVIII 24, says : 'This block was formerly in the possession of Mr. Lysons [ the well-known author of the Magna Britania ], Keeper of the Records; from whom it passed to his successor Mr. Petrie; and by the latter gentleman was presented to the Tower.' Ffoulkes further records: 'The block was formerly in the possession of John Poydon, one of the Warders of the Tower. In a letter dated 15th March 1825, copied in the King's House by General Milman in 1894, Mr.John Bayley, of the Record Office, acknowleges Poydon's gift to his office. It was handed on to Mr. Lysons, and from him to Mr. Petrie [sic], who transferred it to the Armouries about the year 1866, when the Record Office was moved to Chancery Lane.' Names and dates have become slightly inaccurate in some of these accounts. Not least in that no John Poyndon is listed in the Yeoman body's compiled list of YW from 1557. The date 1866 for its presentation to the Armouries is impossible because the evidence of the 1857 Remain. The date 1866 probably derived from the reasonable assumption that the most likely time for a transfer of a Tower object from the Record Office to the Armouries would be when the Record Office left the Tower in 1866. [G.M.Wilson].

Physical Description

Cut from the centre of an elm timber, the heavy block is rectangular in section with deep segments cut in the longer top edges to accommodate the head and upper chest of the kneeling victim. The front cut-out is 12.2 inches, the rear one 16.2 inches. There are two parallel axe-cuts on the narrow section on which the neck rested.



Dimensions: Height: 24.8 in., Length: 21.8 in., Width: 12.9 in. Weight: 125 lb.


Places England

Bibliographic References

Royal Armouries, Royal Armouries Tower of London [souvenir guide], Royal Armouries, Leeds, 2000, p. 23 (col. illus. with XV.1).

Royal Armouries, Royal Armouries Museum [souvenir guide], Royal Armouries, Leeds, 2000, p. 2 (col. illus. with XV.1).


General Wiliiamson's Diary - 1722-1747 (London 1912) p.131
records "The block was at the desire of the Prisoners made two feet high, and I desired a good stiff upright post to be put just under it".