Between 1535 and 1679 nearly 400 Roman Catholics were executed on the triple-pillared gallows for refusing to recant their faith, as priest hunters scoured Britain looking for traitors to the post-Reformation crown.
... The first martyrs of the Protestant Reformation – St John Houghton and four other priests – were executed for treason there on 4 May 1535 for refusing to recognise Henry VIII as the head of the English Church. Houghton was hanged, drawn and quartered.
Watching their procession towards Tyburn from the window at his prison in the Tower of London, soon-to-be martyr Thomas More was said to have remarked to his daughter: "Look Meg! These blessed Fathers be now as cheerfully going to their deaths as bridegrooms to their marriage!"
In 1571, Queen Elizabeth I erected the Tyburn Tree, a triangular gallows purposely built for multiple executions. The supports were strong enough to hang eight people from each side of the gallows, allowing a gruesome public spectacle that visibly reinforced the Crown's power.
The last Catholic to die at Tyburn for their faith was St Oliver Plunkett, the Archbishop of Armagh, on 1 July 1679. He had been falsely accused of being part of a papist plot to assassinate Charles II.
Since the 1950s the site has been marked simply by a stone roundel but Westminster City Council has begun looking for ideas for a more fitting memorial in honour of the hundreds of martyrs who swung from the Tyburn Tree – one that will very publicly associate one of Britain's busiest shopping areas with the persecution of Catholics."