Tower of London
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London is a city filled with history, from Roman times to the Great Fire of London, Tudor times, World War II, and many things in between. There are several ways to explore London’s history, and one way is to visit the palaces. The Historic Royal Houses give an insight into the intrigue of royal life, and one of the most significant of these houses is the Tower of London
When you go to the Tower of London, you can take a guided tour from one of the Yeoman, who will tell you all about the history of the tower. The good news is that the price of your ticket includes a tour of the Crown jewels, seeing the ravens, as well as the public outside areas such as the moat, Tower Green, White Tower, and the Line of Kings and the Armoury in Action, Bloody Tower, the Medieval Palace, as well as the battlements, the Torture at the Tower exhibition and the Fusilier’s Museum. Wow! That’s a lot of history. There are some key highlights that are included in the tour.
The Crown Jewels
Ever since 1661, the Tower of London has been home to the Crown Jewels, which has 23, 578 gemstones as well as many items used in royal ceremonies today. There’s a new exhibition – according to the website – that delves deeper into the history and significance of these jewels. And because many are still in use, they’re under armed guard and there is no photography permitted in this area.
The White Tower
Built in 1066 by William the Conqueror, The White Tower is an iconic building in London. It is home to the Royal Armouries and the 350-year-old exhibition, Line of Kings. The almost 1,000-year history in this building includes torture – and the basement is thought to be where prisoners like Guy Fawkes were tortured and interrogated. History is written into the stones and walls of the White Tower, which houses St John's Chapel
. St John’s Chapel, built for William the Conqueror to worship, is an example of Anglo-Norman ecclesiastical architecture that has survived the centuries. History is encapsulated in buildings like this – you can feel what might have happened here, and in sacred spaces like this, there is a sense of peace and reverence – even if you don’t hold religious beliefs. It is awe-inspiring and interesting to be able to see areas such as this.
The Line of Kings
Here, you can see the suits of armour that kings like Henry VIII, Charles I and James II wore, amongst many others. These suits of armour have been on display since the 17th century – so when you visit here, you are really walking in the footsteps of history – the kings and all those people who have come before over the past three and a half centuries, and the display has been changed and adapted over the years as well. This aspect of the history is specific yet highlights how kings and their armour were viewed and how the past has formed the future, so it will be of interest to anyone going.
Tower Green and Scaffold
Ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of the condemned? Well, that’s where Tower Green and the Scaffold comes in – a place where those condemned to be executed spent their final hours. Execution was not doled out to anyone though. Only those of high rank or who had what was deemed dangerous public support suffered this fate. In total, ten people were beheaded at the tower. And two of the most famous people who were beheaded were Anne Boleyn, and Catherine Howard – wives two and five of Henry VIII. There was a third queen who died in this way – Lady Jane Grey.
It feels like the ghosts of those who were beheaded still haunt the Tower Green and Scaffold. It is an eerie place, somewhere dark and almost sinister. And a devilish part of history that illustrates these historic sites have all sorts of stories and secrets, and that is what makes them interesting and appealing to visitors – seeing where history happened, feeling it, and hearing the stories that might not be in history books.
These are just a few highlights of the Tower. There are many other things included in your ticket that you can see and learn more about before or after you go. Whilst it has been several years since I visited, and more information has been added to the website, I do think this is a place of interest that has captured the imaginations of many.
The Tower of London website, part of the Historic Royal Palaces website is a treasure trove of knowledge to learn about the tower but to also plan your visit, from times, things to see, and prices. The information about that included in this article is current as of October 2023, so keep an eye out online for any changes.
Opening Hours and Admission (as of October 2023)
Open Daily 9 am to 5.30 pm – last admission is at 3.30 pm. Check the website for any updates.
Children (5-15) £16.80
Address: Tower of London, London, EC3N 4AB
267452 - 2023-10-29 23:57:32