The terrible and deadly Tyburn Tree, which was situated on the northeast edge of Hyde Park was a symbol of justice in the middle ages. The huge triangular gallows, erected in 1571 and made of thick wooden crossbeams 3m (9ft) long on 5.5m (18ft) legs, was the place where cut-throats, thieves and murderers were publicly hanged. Like a modern day football match, crowds between 10,000 and 50,000 people would attend the executions at Tyburn.
Condemned men, women and on rare occasions children, were brought from Newgate Prison in open carts along Holborn, through St Giles and finally Tyburn Road (modern day Oxford Street) to the infamous Tyburn Tree. The procession would stop several times at places such as The Old Bailey on Newgate Street and The Bowl Inn in St Giles where the condemned prisoner would be offered jug of ale or wine. Once they had quenched their thirst they would ‘get back on the wagon’ never to drink alcohol again!
The Tyburn Tree executions remained the focal point of this raucous Monday morning ritual for over 200 years until 1792, when Newgate took its place.
The ominous plaque pictured can be found on a traffic island at the top of Edgware Road close to Marble Arch.