TOWER OF LONDON
As London’s oldest surviving Royal building, the Tower has stood watch over the city for nearly a thousand years. It’s been the stage on which much of England’s dramatic history has been played out.
Let’s head back to the start, to the Frenchman William the Conqueror who defeated the English King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Having taken the throne, he built himself a Royal Fortress by the River Thames.
Initially resented, over the centuries William’s tower grew to be a symbol of Royal power, until it became notorious as a place of imprisonment, torture and execution. The reign of the Tudors had arrived and Henry VIII had taken England out of the Catholic Church and into an age of upheaval and unrest.
For those on the wrong side of history, the Tower represented their bleakest fears. This is where prisoners carved their names and hopes into the walls and prayed for a better life in the next world. It’s also where Queen Anne Boleyn took her final steps on the morning of her execution, searching the faces around her in the hope of seeing a messenger with a pardon – a messenger that had never been sent.
Today she lies buried in its Chapel, alongside the other two young Queens who lost their lives within the Tower’s walls.
Today, it wears its past on its sleeve, the Yeoman Warders remind of us an earlier age and the Ravens are here to keep the Tower safe, but it also glitters with the Crown Jewels – the magnificent Crowns and Regalia used by the Royal family, and amongst the 23,000 gems, we’ll discover the largest clear cut diamond in the world – the beautiful Great Star of Africa.
Did you know?
- During WW2, the Tower was used to hold German prisoners. Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s Deputy, was imprisoned in the Tower after parachuting into Scotland.
- Over half a century ago, two young Princes disappeared from the Tower never to be seen again – their fate remains a mystery.
If you want to know more, you’ll have to book a tour.