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Tower of London

Tower of London

Address: within London Borough of Tower Hamlets

The Tower of London is also known as Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress. When you hear the word "Tower", you might think of royal castle, and tortured prisoners, treasures or the British crown jewels. Tower of London has always been a place for many different purposes.

Tower of LondonSince William the Conqueror´s time

The first part of the Tower of London - "White Tower" - began to be built in 1078 by William the Conqueror. He wanted to build fortresses to protect the city from the Anglo-Saxons. The tower was completed about 20 years later.

After William there were several more kings who during their time expanded the Tower. Among others, Henry III (1216-1272) who built the royal residences, and he also built a zoo so that the royals could amuse themselves.

Edward I (1272-1307) built a new wall and a new moat. This made the Tower of London the size it is today.

What happend over the years?
After Edward I extended the Tower´s range , the royal treasury and also the Royal Mint and other important documents were moved to the Tower.
The Tower of London began to function as a prison, however it had been used as a prison before. The first prisoner is said to be the Bishop of Durham - 1100. In 1820 the Tower formally ceases to be a prison....but if you were a special prisoner you could imprisoned at the Tower anyway. Torture and killings have occurred in various places in the Tower

TowernThe Tower of London consists of many various towers, chapels, museums and barracks. The various towers were built in different centuries. The towers are Wakefield, Rural Horn, Salt, Broad Arrow, Constable, Martin, Brick, Flint, Bowyer, Deveraux, Beauchamp, Bell, Bloody, St. Thomas and Well.

Some towers have more interesting history than others .... Henry III bedroom in the Wakefield Tower, prisoner John Balliol (Scotland's deposed king) 1296-1299 in the Salt Tower, 1st Duke of Clarence was executed 1478 in the Bowyer Tower, Thomas More and Arbella Stuart was imprisoned in the Bell Tower, etc.

The haunting
The Tower of London is said to be haunted, perhaps not surprising, for many years the place was used as a prison and execution site. One story is about Lady Jane Grey, who was seen as a white shadow exactly 403 years after her execution at the Tower. There were two guards in the Tower who saw her.

Tickets to Tower of London
Tower of London tickets Tower of London - entry ticket
Visit the Tower of London - London's most historic site. Here you can view the crown jewels, the famous ravens, site of royal executions, the prison. Let a Beefeater show you around and tell stories about the place.

Affordable family ticket available. There is much to see so give the visit a few hours.

SAVE UP TO 25% on a family ticket.
The ticket is open-dated and can be used any time when open within a year. See info on your voucher.
Buy tickets to the Tower of London »

Yeomen Warders

Yeomen Warders/"Beefeaters"

What about the guards with the red and blue clothes?
Who are they?

Originally, the were prison guards and they should also guard the British crown jewels. They have been around since 1485 - during the time of Henry VII. They still exist and work as tourist guides and is a major tourist attraction. There are various reasons why they are called Beefeaters - it's said, among other things that they were paid in beef, to be strong and in good shape. Beef was not served and eaten by many at this time.

Usually they are wearing the dark blue uniform with red stripes and the chest has a red crown with the letters E & R. On special occasions they wear similar uniforms as "Yeomen of the Guard" which is from the Tudor period (black shoes, black hat, red uniform with gold stripes). Today, those who works as "Beefeaters" are retired military officers. Not everyone is designated to be a "Beefeater" - requirements are 22 years of military service, high rank in the service and has been awarded the medal for long and faithful service.

The first woman to be appointed to be a "Beefeater" is Moira Cameron - 3 Sept 2007 .

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Cermony of the KeysCermony of the Keys:
Each evening, the commandant of the Yeoman Warder attend in a key ceremony that has been ongoing since the 1300s.

Exactly at 21:52 (8 minutes before 22) the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower comes out of the Byward Tower and starts the ceremony together with four members from the Yeoman Warder. It is time to close the gates in the Tower of London.
When he reaches the Bloody Tower, he is stopped by the doorman where a cermonell procedure must be completed:

-Who comes here? The keys? Whose keys? Queen Elizabeth's keys.

After this the doorman says - Pass - all is well. The Commandant takes off his hat and shout: God save the Queen Elizabeth. All respond: Amen. The keys are then looked after during the night.

You can get tickets to the ceremony if you write to the Tower of London.

A raven at the London TowerThe ravens - why are there 8 ravens in the London Tower?

There is a legend of the ravens. If they leave the Tower the White Tower, the monarchy and the kingdom will fall. No one knows when the legend started, but it is mentioned already in Charles II's time (1649-1685). At one point, all died except one, it was during World War II. When the Tower reopened in 1946 there were 6 ravens but today they are 8.

Today, all ravens wings are clipped. When a ravens dies, they get there own grave with its name on a sign. The ravens are guarded today by one of the Yeamen Warders who are appointed raven watcher. His responsibility is to ensure that they get raw meat and that they are doing well.

Fun facts:

The Crown Jewels
Since 1303, the crown jewels have been placed in the Tower of London. The public could view them and they were actually stolen once in 1671 by Thomas Blood. When Thomas tried to steal the jewels they were kept in Martin Tower.

After this the jewels were moved to the Wakefield Tower, where they were protected by armed guards. During World War II the jewels were moved from the Tower of London and it was not until 1967 they returned to the Tower.
Crown jewels

The Tower of Londons official website

Source: Pictures: own/

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