Tower of London
Come and see The Tower of London in all its magnificent glory. Take in rich, dramatic stories and imagine yourself as a character in grand English chronicles. Learn of life in another era, in times of beheadings, sieges and scandal!
You’ll find the Tower of London positioned adjacent to the River Thames in Tower Hill, of the Tower Hamlets District, near the HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge and London Bridge. In a time before skyscrapers, this well-planned layout must have been an intimidating sight for thieves and siege accomplices, and a source of power and assurance for law abiding locals. Founded in 1066 by the Normans and expanded in 1078 (by William the Conquer), it has been merged, molded and managed, all with a view to fulfill various governing authority needs of each time.
As it was once a royal residence, it is only fitting to see the Royal Guard protected Crown Jewels. Located in The Jewel House via Waterloo Block, walk a red carpet upon entry, where you’ll find twists and turns of high-security treasures. See stately royal insignia, crowns and celebrated symbols of power such as St. Edwards Crown, the Holy Anointing Spoons and decadent banquet plates, sceptres and robes. The Crown Jewels mark 800 years of monarch rule, but not without great effort after great loss. When King Charles II returned from exile in France, new jewels were crafted after being “lost” (or stolen), and they were maintained in good keeping until 1669, when Irish-born Colonel Thomas Blood attempted to steal them. But, rather than beheading, a punishment popular at the time — in fact he was pardoned and awarded Irish land (valued at £500 a year).
The White Tower will no doubt demand your attention as you exit The Jewel House, but did you know it was once of humble timber beginnings? It took a decade to build to its form today and was sanctioned by William the Conquerer. Before you walk up its 206 steps within, take a detour to the lower basement to find the united kingdoms oldest musesum; The Royal Armouries. Home to about 75,000 war, defence and battle items gathered over centuries, it’s the stuff that movies are made of!
It wouldn’t be a proper visit without witnessing the 14th Century-born Ceremony of the Keys, an animated age-old tradition by Yeoman (Beefeater) Warders. At precisely 9:53pm each night, the Chief Yeoman meets a Military Escort (a member of the Tower of London Guard), and together they secure the gates of The Tower. This is followed by a dialogue of challenge by the Sentry and confirmation from the Guard.
Free Tickets to watch are available to the public each night, but be sure to book ahead!