One of London’s most iconic symbols is the Tower of London. The famous tower attracts tourists the world over, but it is much more than a simple castle from a bygone era. What do you know about The Tower of London? It holds the crown jewels; is haunted, or perhaps it a place of execution? We thought this a great opportunity to broaden your knowledge with a quick piece article about The Tower.
The Origins of the Tower
The Tower of London is a lot older than you might think. William the Conqueror may have built it (or at least a part of it), but long before there was a stone fortress, the Saxons, the Romans and the Ancient Britons before them used the site as a fort. Taking around 20 years to build, William I intended the tower was intended to frighten and terrify the local population into submission.
It wasn’t until 1240 that the castle’s keep was painted white, effectively earning it the name “The White Tower”. Other rulers continued to build, and the fortress became the de-facto place of residence of the ruling elite in terms of strife. Both Henry II and Edward I “Longshanks” added defensive walls around the fortress making it virtually impregnable for its time.
The Tower also became the home of royal jewels, armaments and prized possessions until the 1800s, and it also held the vast coffers of the English kings and queens. Coins were minted there until 1810, and even today, the crown jewels are held there, protected but on display to any tourists eager to see them, which are most.
When it wasn’t storing luxury goods, the Tower of London also become both a fortress and a prison for its various occupants.
A Luxury Fortress, as well as a Prison
A young Henry VIII hid inside the tower while Cornish rebels waged war against his father, and several kings and heirs have met their fate there including Henry VI, the Princes in the Tower. Other famous occupants of the tower (albeit as prisoners) include Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, Guy Fawkes and Walter Raleigh, Jane Grey, Sir Thomas More, and Thomas Cromwell.
The Beefeaters have long been associated with the tower thanks to King Henry VII allowing them to each as much beef from his table as they wished. The Yeomen Warders (originally Yeomen of the Guard – the King’s bodyguards) still guard the Tower, an honour they have had since Henry VIII personally decreed it over 500 years ago.
A Legendary Place
Many people associate the Tower of London with hauntings. Anne Boleyn is said to haunt the tower (she was buried under the chancel of the chapel after her execution on Tower Green), while Arbella Stuart and the Princes in the Tower are also said to haunt the castle.
Whether you wish to visit it for its history, its architecture or to potentially get a fright, The Tower of London is a must-see piece of history, in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.