You can’t visit the Tower of London without knowing something of the history.
The defeated English were instructed to build the initial construction in the 1070s by William the Conqueror after the 1066 Norman invasion.
Also known as London Tower, it stands over 27m the highest points and made from Caen stone quarried in north west France near the city of Caen. Caen stone is pale and almost luminous. In the hands of craftsmen it is easily carved.
During the medieval period William’s successors Henry ΙΙΙ and his son Edward Ι enlarged and strengthened the building, enhancing it as a fortress. By 1350 the development had reached the appearance that we are familiar with today. By this time The Tower provided Royal accommodation, the Royal mint and a menagerie with lions.
The history of this place is gruesome. In 1483 Prince Edward, aged 12, and his younger brother were imprisoned by their uncle the Duke of Gloucester (who became Richard ΙΙΙ). The young princes were the sons of Edward ΙV ; he came to the throne as result of the ‘Wars of the Roses’. Edward ΙV died suddenly on 9th April 1483 and the elder of the two princes was proclaimed Edward V while at Ludlow in Shropshire.
Their uncle, Duke of Gloucester was appointed as Lord Protector to the princes. He was supposed to prepare for the coronation of the elder prince to be crowned Edward V. The Duke of Gloucester was in a position to manipulate the situation and take advantage. The two princes were held captive in the tower while The Duke was crowned Richard ΙΙΙ in July 1483.
The two princes were never seen again. In the 1930s, two skeletons were found buried beneath a staircase. It’s believed that they were of the two princes and that their uncle had them murdered.
It was in the Tudor period of Henry VΙΙΙ when the tower had its most barbaric period with prison cells being regularly occupied by political and religious prisoners. This was largely to do with Henry VΙΙΙ‘s break from Rome.
Among those imprisoned were the politician Thomas More (1543), Henry’s second wife Anne Boleyn (1546) and Protestant reformer Anne Askew(1546). More and Boleyn were beheaded and Askew was tortured before being burned at the stake.
These are just some examples of what has happened within the walls of the Tower of London.
Today there are no prisoners or Royal Mint and the menagerie has gone. However the Crown Jewels are still there and is one of the reasons why there are over 2 million visitors each year.
The White Tower is the oldest part and visitors can join daily guide tours which commence at 10:45, 12:45, 14:15.
The Royal Mint Display
See the King’s exhibition with a display of a history of the Royal Mint going back to 1279. Learn how Sir Isaac Newton (Warden of the Royal Mint) identified counterfeit coins and caught the perpetrators.
The Crown Jewels
This is a stunning collection which, together, consists of 23.578 gems. The collection includes the Crown that Queen Elizabeth ΙΙ wore at her coronation on 2nd June 1953 to become Queen of The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and many other states.
Yeoman Warden tours
Otherwise known as the Beefeaters because long ago they were permitted to eat as much beef as they wanted from the King’s table. These tours are included in the price of the entry ticket. Commencing every 30 minutes, the last for the day starting at 15:30.
There are family fun trails and interactive touch screen displays to entertain all ages.
Legend has it that if the ravens leave the court, the Tower of London will fall. There are seven ravens living at the tower and they all have names. They are cared for by the Raven Master who ensures that they receive 170g of raw meat every day.
There is 1,000 years of history to be discovered at the Tower of London, it’s well worth a visit.
Image source: en.wikipedia.org
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