Cookie Notification

We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our site and allow us and third parties to tailor ads you see on this and other websites. By continuing you agree to our use of cookies

Information for our guests regarding Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Following the government announcement recently, we will soon be sharing our plans with you for reopening and can't wait to welcome you back through the doors!

Since we closed on March 20, we’ve been working tirelessly to make sure that when we’re ready to reopen it will be in the safest way possible.

Our team of health & safety experts have created a plan which will enable us to deliver on our promise of keeping your well-being and safety as our top priority.

You can find out more about the changes we're implementing by clicking here.

Please click here for further information and booking enquiries.


More information

Reign of Terror Guillotine Blade, c. 1793

Reign of Terror Guillotine Blade, c. 1793

Perhaps one of the most iconic relics held in the collection is the French Revolution guillotine blade, allegedly used to behead Marie Antoinette.

The grisly details

  • Whilst we have no solid evidence of its connection to the “let them eat cake” queen’s death, the blade certainly has a bloody history none-the-less, and was a key attraction within the Chamber of Horrors for over 100 years. The blade was removed from display in 2016 when the Chamber of Horrors closed its doors.
  • The guillotine was purchased by Joseph Tussaud (eldest son of Marie Tussaud), sometime in the mid-1800s. The seller, Mr. Clement Henri Sanson, was the grandson of the official executioner from the time of the Reign of Terror, Charles Henri Sanson. The younger Sanson, who had succeeded his father and his grandfather as official executioner, had been dismissed from the position in 1847 for neglect of duties. It is thought he ran a small museum in Paris displaying artefacts that had been passed down to him through the role, but proceeded to pawn a number of them to pay for his extensive gambling and drinking debts.
  • The 1854 Madame Tussauds ledger notes a payment of £110.00 to a “Sampson”, likely a miss-spelling of Sanson, for a guillotine blade, alongside expenses for a trip to Paris. Joseph also acquired at the same time Sanson’s drawings of the full guillotine, so that a replica could be constructed for the exhibition. Joseph also acquired Sanson’s drawings of the full guillotine, so that a replica could be constructed for the exhibition.