The Tower of London

by Andrada Costoiu

By Thames River, very close to the London Bridge, lies The Tower of London. This is a place where about 1000 years of history have been written, a place where medieval kings and queens have lived and a place where many people have found their death.

 I went to see it in an August summer day. I was lucky; the weather was just beautiful!!! But what do you know! The occasional London showers didn’t spare me! While I was waiting to see the Crown Jewels the rain was pouring down like crazy. I was lucky a man next to me came more prepared and offered to shelter me under his umbrella. Thank you!

The Tower is a big place and you should take your time visiting. You will need at least several hours. If you don’t plan to take a guided tour, you should get an audio guide, it’s really useful and gives you a lot of information as you move through the different buildings and exhibitions. 

The Tower! I was fascinated …….and then horrified as I discovered the place of burial for Anne Boleyn! I’ve seen the Tudors series, and this movie gave flight to my imagination about the love story between Anne and Henry VIII…. He was so in love with her and then….he ordered her decapitation.

A fortress and a palace

The construction of what is now the Tower of London started in 1070s, when William the Conqueror wanted to build a mighty castle to defend and proclaim his royal power. The Tower took around 20 years to build.

Then Henry III (1216-72) and Edward I (1272-1307) expanded William’s fortress, adding defensive walls with a series of smaller towers.

The Tower was a fortress, e medieval palace and a prison. It also controlled the supply of the nation’s money.  All coins of the realm were made at the Tower Mint until 1810. Kings and queens also locked away their jewels here and even today, the Crown Jewels are here, at the Tower.

The Crown Jewels

The jewels are displayed in the Jewel House. Waiting to see the Crown Jewels can feel like waiting in a cue for a Disney ride. It can be crowed and it can take some time to get inside, so be prepared. Also, you cannot take pictures inside; you can’t take pictures of the jewels.

This is the Jewel House, at the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are sheltered

The Crown Jewels have been stored and displayed at the Tower of London since 1661! They are under guard and still in use…..

A royal guard by the Jewel House, Tower of London

I’m not sure what to say about the crowns and everything that it is found inside the exhibition. They are beautiful, of course! Especially the ones with the cullinan diamonds, which are the largest diamonds ever found.  Cullinan I is the largest diamond in the world and is mounted in the head of the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross and Cullinan II, the second largest, is mounted in the Imperial State Crown.

This is a picture of the Imperial State Crown, Queen Elizabeth II is wearing it.

These diamonds were discovered in Culling, South Africa in 1905 and they were named after Thomas Culling, the mine’s chairman.

To me, the jewels were not as important as the history behind them. The stories of all these people that have worn them, their lives and what happened in England during their reign. Out of all the royals that have worn these jewels, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Tudors, and about their most famous king, Henry VIII.

The White Tower and Henry the VIII

The White Tower is the main building of the fortress and it is the very first building that was built for this place.

The White Tower has four floors. The entrance to the White Tower is made on the first floor by a door accessible only by a wooden staircase.  They say that at the time of construction instead of the wooden staircase it was probably a ladder….

The wooden staircase that leads to the entrance of the White Tower

“The Royal Armories” is located on the lower floor of the White Tower.The present collection took shape in the Reign of Henry VIII (1509-47).

It features many royal weapons and armor, real-size wooden horses and depictions of the different kings, set in a situation. There are few armors of King Henry VIII and also the armor of King Charles I and James II. 

I cannot imagine how it must have been to be under this mountain of iron, how could you more….how could you fight!!!

The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula

In front of the chapel is the place where scaffolds were built. Statistics say than more than 400 people were executed here.

The Chapel is perhaps best known as being the burial place of some of the most famous Tower prisoners. This includes three queens of England: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey, all of whom were executed within the Tower in the 16th century.

Anne, was Henry VIII greatest love, or at least one of them… She was accused of adultery and treason and she was decapitated at the tower. The place where you see the green book, it is thought to be the place where Anne is buried. 

The Tower Ravens

A group of at least six captive ravens are resident at the Tower of London. These days I think there are seven. They are tended by a Yeoman Warder Ravenmaster, who is clipping their wings and feathers in order not to allow them to fly off the grounds. The Ravenmaster releases the birds from their cages and prepares breakfast for them at dawn each day.

Photo credit: @thegentleauthor; spitalfieldslife.com

The legend has it that should the ravens leave the Tower, both it and the kingdom will fall.

There is so much more to see at the Tower: the Tower of Torture, the Yeoman Wardens and more. You got to visit! If you like history, this is truly a wonderful place!

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.