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Executions: Punishment in London

Explore the revealing history of public executions in London in this new exhibition – perfect for KS4/5 students studying punishment. Open 14 October 2022 to 16 April 2023.


Examine the human stories behind these events

How is this uncomfortable past still visible today?

Plan a school visit to our latest exhibition

Public executions were a major part of Londoners’ lives for centuries. More frequent in London than in any other town, these morbid spectacles attracted thousands of onlookers at locations across the capital.

This exhibition will dive into London’s history of public executions from the 1200s to their abolition in 1868, showcasing objects including the vest said to be worn by King Charles I, the only royal to be publicly executed.

All the objects and stories in Executions are about real Londoners. It will reveal the rarely told human stories of both spectators and participants.

For more information about the exhibition, visit the Executions exhibition page.

You can also listen to curator Beverley Cook's interview on the HistoryExtra podcast dated 19 October 2022 for more details on the exhibition's contents.

The stains on the front are believed to be blood, but forensic tests in the 1950s and 1980s failed to prove this conclusively.

Vest said to have been worn by Charles I at his execution, 1640-1649

The stains on the front are believed to be blood, but forensic tests failed to prove this conclusively.

Links to your teaching

Executions is recommended for students in year 9 and above studying the Crime and Punishment thematic unit for OCR B and Pearson Edexcel GCSE History. Students studying other subjects are also welcome to visit the exhibition.

The layout of the exhibition will support Assessment Objective one and two (AO1 & AO2) in helping your students understand key features and characteristics of each time period and the application of second-order historical concepts.

It offers the chance to question the validity of sources such as broadsides sold by street sellers on the days of the public events, and whether they are reliable sources for the time.

Encompassing medieval, early modern and industrial Britain, your students will be able to compare public executions across different time periods, as well as key figures who opposed them from the 1700s onwards.

Book a self-led visit

School groups with students in year 8 and above can book to visit the exhibition for free on weekdays during term time at 10.15am and 10.45am.

To book please fill in our self-directed booking form and select Executions on the ‘Gallery Resources’ section of the form (on page 4).

The recommended age for the exhibition is 12+. If you’re interested in bringing your year 7s to the exhibition, please contact the Learning department to discuss your visit first by emailing [email protected].

We strongly recommend that teachers make a planning visit before bringing students to the exhibition, as outlined below.

Make a planning visit

We have a limited number of tickets available for teachers to make free planning visits to confirm whether the content is suitable for their students. Please phone our Box Office on 020 7001 9844 to book your ticket.

Help with costs

Are you a London school? You might be eligible for money to cover transport and visit costs! Find out more on the Culture Mile School Visits Fund website.

Contact us

If you have any questions about bringing a school group to the exhibition, please contact [email protected]