Tyburn is the traditional site of execution in London. It was west of the city, near where Marble Arch now stands: where Oxford Street meets Park Lane.
It is named after the River Tyburn, which flows from Hampstead Heath down and joins the River Fleet in Westminster. It separates there into two streams (twy-burn) and these formed an island on which Westminster Abbey was originally founded. I have just come across a different account of the name Tyburn on the Web but I believe this one is correct.
The gallows was called Tyburn Tree and was a popular place of frequenting. Crowds always enjoyed a good execution. They lined the route from Newgate Prison, and listened to the prisoner's last words and watched as he took his traditional bowl of ale at St Giles in the Fields. (Nobility being taken to execution from the Tower of London got a glass of sherry at the George and Blue Boar). The last hanging there was of a forger, on 7 November 1783. Thereafter executions took place at Newgate itself. The traditional freedom of speech by the prisoner gave rise to the tradition of Speakers Corner in nearby Hyde Park.
There was a permanent gallows on the site from 1571 to 1759. It was a huge triangular affair that could takee eight victims on each side. Another nickname for it was the Deadly Never Green. It was a place of execution from perhaps 1100: the first recorded one was in 1196. It is estimated that 50 000 people might have died there. The traditional name of the hangman was Jack Ketch, after a famous one in the 17th century.
Read more of the astonishing carnival atmosphere of this spectacle at
or by wertperch under public executions
Sociological and economic analysis at