This stone plaque called ‘Tyburn Tree’ will be found on the large traffic island on Edgeware Road near Marble Arch in London and is one of many historical reminders of London’s dark history which often goes unnoticed. Though called the ‘Tyburn Tree’ there was no tree at this location and refers to the name given to a wooden scaffold used for public executions which could accommodate three prisoners at a time. From 1196, the first recorded execution, to 1783 this part of London was open countryside and hangings were considered popular entertainment. For instance, when highwayman Jack Sheppard was executed, there is said to have been an excited crowd of around 200,000.
Two expressions used during this period continue to be in popular use: “one for the road”, originally meant the last pint of ale before the condemned was transported by cart to Tyburn with excited crowds following them, also associated with alcohol is the expression ‘hangover’. Public hangings were abolished in 1868.