Having carried out a questionnaire about the places I’d visited in London in the last year, it struck me, I’d never been to the Tower of London! So I enlisted the company of my great friend Christianne and off we went…
We had both previously associated the Tower of London primarily with imprisonment and torture, but this is only a tiny part of its long history. The whole building is named after the White Tower (pictured above) construction was commenced in the 1080s by William the Conqueror. The purpose of the Tower was to protect London and to assert Norman power.
Image taken from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28742/28742-h/28742-h.htm
For me, one of the most interesting aspects of historical places is trying to imagine what it would’ve been like at the time it was built and how different eras have used and lived there over time.
Henry III (1207 – 1272) is the first royal known to have had the Royal Menagerie and it is thought to have included monkeys, lions, elephants and a polar bear amongst other things. By the 18th century it was open to the public and was relocated to Regents Park in 1835 where the London Zoo remains.
The Crown Jewels have been on display at the Tower since 1669, but no pictures are allowed. They are pretty impressive, my favourite item was the ‘Royal Punch Bowl’ which could hold – I can’t remember exactly – but abut 40 litres of wine. If I were Queen, h-hmm, the Tower would be closed for partying…
I’ve already found some willing guests. And what lovely Beefeaters they were.. technically they are responsible for looking after any prisoners at the Tower and safeguarding the Crown Jewels but they just seemed to be having a giggle and pointing people in the right direction.
This is where I ended up… praying not to be put on the rack. There is a display of the torture equipment that was used mainly in the 16th century when the Tower became known as a grim prison. Though it seems it housed the more ‘high-profile’ religious and political prisoners. The room pictured above was Sir Walter Raleigh’s suite, the writer, poet and explorer was imprisoned on 3 occasions for amongst other things treason, he was finally beheaded in 1618.
In one of the rooms there are examples of graffiti which has been carved into the walls, its pretty impressive. Other prisoners you may have heard of are William Wallace, Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes and the Kray Twins.
The Fit for a King exhibit displays the armour used by the Kings, to find out when a King might need armour you can visit the Historic Royal Palaces website.
If you want to make friends with this guy, see and learn a whole lot more I would highly recommend a day out at the Tower of London!
Entry Fee: Adult £20.90, for more info click here