Tower Of London

Our trip in May to London had so much to do and share, I needed to break it up and spread it out.  I am sure you would think I was turning into a travel blog, LOL, but I promise that isn’t going to happen.  As much as I like history and especially English history, I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  So, I hope you will come along with me as we travel to the Tower of London, and share some facts that surprised me.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

The tower and its wall was begun in 1070 by William the Conqueror and took 20 years to build.  Stone masons from Normandy brought stone from France with England providing the bulk of the labor.  The main tower was used as a luxurious palace for the Royal family, before being converted to a prison.  It is a concentric castle, with one wall inside another for a double layer of defense.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

The Tower apartments still provide housing for the Yeoman Warders, guardians of the Tower and the Crown Jewels, Protectors of the Ravens.  A Yeoman Warder must be a military member for 22 years before being appointed to this royal service, and currently must be between 40 and 55 years old when appointed.  They still wear the Royal regalia for the nightly Key Ceremony to lock up the castle, unchanged for hundreds of years.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

Because of the extraordinary capacity for protection, the Tower was the location of the Royal Mint and made all the coin of the realm until 1870.  The Crown Jewels are still kept here when not in use, and were truly spectacular to see.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

I wish I could have taken some photos of the incredible Crown Jewels.  The Tower has been the site where the most precious items of the monarchy have been stored since the 1600s. St. Edward’s Crown which is used for coronation of the monarch, weighs almost 5 pounds, and is set with huge jewels.  The royal septre holds the world’s largest cut diamond, the Cullinan I (also called the Star of Africa), weighing 530 carats! The Imperial State Crown holds the cushion cut Cullinan II Diamond weighing 317 carats, both cut from the same rough stone!!  The current Crown Jewel collection is mostly from the 1600s, as most of the royal regalia was melted down and destroyed by Cromwell after the revolution of the Parliament, execution of King Charles I and dissolution of the monarchy in 1649.  Cromwell died  in disgrace in 1658 for failing to create a working Parliament. The monarchy was restored in 1661 with the approval of Parliament, and the coronation of Charles II.  There are more fascinating stories about the Tower and the history of the monarchy on the Tower Of London History website –  HERE

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

Traitors Gate used to be open to the Thames, where prisoners were often brought to the Tower.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

A small chapel is said to be the place that Henry IV was murdered in 1471.  Just a few years later, the two sons of Edward IV vanished in 1483.  In 1674 their skeletons were found within the walls of the White Tower during a rebuilding phase.  DNA tests confirmed their identities according to research at the University of Essex just recently in July 2018, with data from the discovery of their uncle Richard III’s remains under a car park in 2012.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

Seven ravens live at the Tower, from long-held tradition.  There is a story that Charles II was told that if the six ravens ever left the Tower, that both the Tower and the country of England would fall.  Seven ravens are kept to have a spare so the prophesy never comes true.  They do have their primary flight feathers clipped to prevent them from gaining enough height to go over the wall, but they can still fly.  They roam the grounds freely, with the cages open so they can go as they please.  The Ravenmaster Yeoman Warder feeds them a diet of raw meat and biscuits soaked in blood.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

Touching the stone walls inside the castle was a surreal experience.   Can you imagine living in these spaces, walking these halls?   Some dark and foreboding staircases are lit only by daylight through small windows.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

A hallway on an upper floor shows its age, hundreds of years old.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

Did you know that only 7 executions were held there?  I thought it was much higher, but the Tower was mainly used as a prison for high status people or noble born.  Elizabeth I imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots here for 19 years. Three of the executed nobles were queens, all were beheaded for treason and their bodies buried under the chapel in unmarked graves during the 1500s.  In 1876,  Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard executed by order of Henry VIII, and Jane Grey executed by order of Mary Tudor were moved, and entombed in the chapel with burial stones.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

The Tower housed a Menagerie of exotic animals from 1235 – 1835, beginning when King Henry III was given three leopards or lions as a gift.  The King of France sent an elephant to England in 1255 as gift to expand the zoo.  Read more on all the exotic animals on that page – Tower Menagerie.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

Tower Bridge is just outside the Tower of London. We didn’t go inside it, there just wasn’t enough time to do it all.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

So much history!!  There is just too much to show and tell, but you can read more on the links to the historic websites if you are interested.

Tower of London, England at From My Carolina Home

Did you learn something surprising today?

25 thoughts on “Tower Of London

  1. Carole, I enjoyed your history and photos. I have been to the Tower of London two times and enjoyed both. I love travel and never tire of seeing it through someone’s camera lens!

  2. kim

    I really enjoyed this vacay recap. Great history from our ancestors! Please tell me that you went by Liberty of London while you were there…Love the blog and look forward to it daily.

  3. Marsha

    I didn’t realize they had id’d the remains of the two boys this summer. So glad that mystery is solved and they can rest in peace.

  4. lv2bquilting2

    Good morning Carole…..When I open my computer in the morning, I usually check out your blog, along with a couple of others first, but you weren’t there this morning, so I knew exactly where to find you….the dreaded SPAM folder. For about 6 months now, so many of my regular e-mails have found their way to that file, and visa versa. I’m getting pretty fed up with it!
    Your history lesson was fantastic, and I am going to follow your suggestion and check out the links you have provided. My dad was born there, but I’ve never had the opportunity to travel there, but am enjoying it through your eyes. Thanks so much for the Travelogue!

  5. Diann Smith

    I am enjoying this…do more! I’ve been there and my favorite view was the crown jewels. Not allowed enough time to view as I would have wished but I know why. Photos very nice.

  6. Hi Carole! I love this post!! I have been to London several times but have not yet visited the Tower. It is definitely on my to-do list for the next visit. Thank you for the photos and your narrative – I enjoyed them immensely. Happy Friday! ~smile~ Roseanne

  7. Lesley Gilbert

    I always enjoy reading your travelogues and looking at the links. The nearest I’ve been to the Tower was on a river cruise boat that went under the bridge and I took video’s as well as photo’s. We are off to London next week for 3 days for my birthday, the main attraction being a visit to London Zoo, which I’ve seen so many times on TV. We may have another trip to Camden Lock/Market which we’ve enjoyed before. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for cooler weather as our trip to Liverpool 3 weeks ago was so stifling on the couch; the a/c wasn’t much good and I was glad to get back home. Have a great weekend 🙂

  8. sherrill szumik

    Thank you..was there in may as well…had a hard time being able to hear the guide so this history lesson is great..I do have a hearing problem..wasn’t the guide

  9. Nancy Daugherty

    Interesting story on the Ravens. We have a lot of those “”birds”” here in Alaska and I love to watch them.

  10. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole; I sure enjoyed reading your post again this morning. I am thrilled that you are sharing your wonderous trip with us and all of the history also. You could share something like this all of the time and I would be fine with it, I like the way you tell it. Also, I know this is something I will never experience myself and knowing a friend is sharing makes it special. We just returned from taking Mr. Shakes to the vet. Poor little guy, they had to put him through torture to get his ear cleaned out really well and then chose to give him some injections and see if that would clear up the infection. If not, we are somehow going to have to come up with over 500 dollars to have ear surgery done. I will keep you posted. Thank you for sharing your fantastic trip with us. Have a great day!

  11. Nora Ellis

    Another excellent article. When visiting our ancient buildings I wonder about all the historical persons who have walked there over the centuries. I try not to think how it must have felt to be imprisoned there and to make the walk to the “Block”. Our history is peppered with cruel acts!

  12. We enjoy our visit there too. I hate to think how many stairs went climbed that day. Yes there was too much to see, we went back the next day to check out the Tower Bridge as we love to walk across famous bridges when we travel.

  13. Phyllis Smith

    Hi Carole,

    Very interesting palace and so much great history.

    The crown jewels would be something to behold, no wonder they are kept in a double walled palace.

    Phyllis Smith

  14. dezertsuz

    How fabulous to see it all in person. I can’t really imagine living in such a place, but I would certainly want plenty of quilts on the bed, with the English climate! I was also surprised at the low number of executions, and hadn’t heard it had been decided those were definitely the remains of the young princes. What a fabulous experience for you!

  15. Wow! So glad I saved this post to read through & savor. I learned TONS from this post. Knowing that Ann Boleyn was executed here gave me chills as I was reading as did the dark hallway with only light from the windows. It must have been so exciting to visit the Tower. Didn’t know about the animals either. That cracked me up!

  16. What a fascinating tour! Your photos are beautiful and I loved learning all about the history. The story about the ravens is so interesting. What an exciting experience for you! Thanks for linking up to the September Take Me Away party. I always love reading your posts!

  17. I did not remember Mary Queen of Scots was there 19 years. Wow, that is a long time.
    I have been there and the Beef Eaters are so informative and impressive.
    You are so right you can’t go everywhere. Traveling is something we enjoy. I agree with Pam it is fun to see the same places you have been through another’s eyes.

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