Tower of London, London

4.5 out of 5 stars 505 Reviews

Tower Hill, EC3 0 20 7709 0765

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  • No one there at 9:00 a.m
    No one there at 9:00 a.m
    by jlanza29
  • White Tower
    White Tower
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  • We had the whole Tower to ourselves  at 9:00 a.m
    We had the whole Tower to ourselves at...
    by jlanza29
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    Pt 7 - The Crown Jewels

    by EasyMalc Updated Apr 16, 2015

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    The Crown Jewels were originally kept in Westminster Abbey but after they were stolen in 1303 they were moved to the Tower of London. Although they were recovered, most of them didn’t survive Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth.
    After Charles I’s execution, Cromwell ordered all the treasure to be “totally broken, and that they melt down all the gold and silver, and sell the jewels to the best advantage of the Commonwealth”, and so apart from three swords and the Coronation Spoon, everything on display originates from after the restoration of the monarchy.
    For a while they were kept in the Martin Tower and nearly disappeared again in 1671 after Thomas Blood made off with them but was caught before he got past Tower Wharf.
    During the 19th century the Duke of Wellington was Constable of the Tower and the Waterloo Barracks were built to provide accommodation for nearly a thousand soldiers, and this is where the Crown Jewels are now kept.
    Entry is through the front entrance which leads to a series of small rooms giving an introduction to the history and the jewels themselves. As you might gather, photography isn’t permitted in here.
    Viewing the Coronation Regalia, as it’s also known, is by means of a slow moving walkway, which I think works pretty well. The items on display are world renowned and the information boards will tell you all you need to know.
    Some of the highlights are :-
    The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross - which includes the Star of Africa diamond (the largest colourless cut diamond in the world at 530.2 carats)
    The Imperial State Crown - which has 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 5 rubies and 273 pearls
    The crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother - which includes the Koh-I-Noor diamond
    There are others including St. Edward’s Crown, the Sovereign’s Orb - and not forgetting the 800 year old Coronation Spoon.
    If you would like to add to the Royal coffers there is plenty of merchandise on offer in the shops that relate to these symbols of power.

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    Pt 6 - The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula

    by EasyMalc Written Apr 15, 2015

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    The name of the Chapel Royal of St. Peter in Chains has nothing to do with prisoners in the tower, but it wasn’t far from the chopping block on Tower Green. All those that were executed there, including the three Queens, are buried here, as are some that were beheaded on Tower Hill, such as Sir Thomas More and John Fisher.
    The chapel was originally a parish church until it was brought inside the Tower walls by Henry III. It became, and still is, a chapel for the community of the Tower of London.
    It was rebuilt by Henry’s son, Edward I, and again during Henry VIII’s reign in 1519/20, and basically this is what we see today.
    To visit this atmospheric little chapel you’ll either need to join a Yeoman Warder’s Tour, visit within the last hour of normal opening times, or go to one of the services - but whichever you choose try not to miss it. Unfortunately, it’s one of those places where photography is not permitted, but understandable.

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    Pt 5 - The Scaffold Execution Site

    by EasyMalc Updated Apr 14, 2015

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    Believe it or not those who got executed on Tower Green were the lucky ones. Beheading within the Tower precincts were reserved for the most prominent figures in society, but for the majority of prisoners in the tower who were sentenced to death, they had to face the indignity of having their head severed from the rest of their body in front of a large unruly crowd on Tower Hill.
    There were in actual fact only seven people that were beheaded within the Tower precincts and three of those were Queens - Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn (1536), his fifth wife, Catherine Howard (1542) and Lady Jane Grey (1554) who was Queen for just 9 days.
    The Countess of Salisbury (1541) seemed to suffer the most as the axe man took eleven goes before he could finish the job off. The other three executed here were William Hastings in 1483, Jane Boleyn (1542) and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (1601).
    In 2006, a more artistic memorial replaced the rather plain one that was here before. Designed by Brian Catling, he also includes three members of the Black Watch that were shot here by firing squad for mutiny in 1743.
    There were more executions by firing squad elsewhere within the Tower in the 20th century. During WW1 there were eleven shot for spying and in WW2 Josef Jakobs, a German, faced the firing squad for the same thing and was the last man to be shot in the Tower. The chair on which he was sat for the execution is in the Armouries vaults.

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    Pt 4 - The Bloody Tower

    by EasyMalc Written Apr 13, 2015

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    Built in the 1220s, this infamous tower was situated on the river’s edge and was the main river entrance into the castle. It was to be another 50 years before St. Thomas’s Tower and Traitor’s Gate took over this role.
    When it was built, the lower chamber belonged to the Constable of the Tower who probably used it for accommodating high ranking guests. Later on it was used to accommodate high ranking prisoners instead.
    Eminent people like Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop William Laud and Judge Jeffreys were all treated with respect and allowed to live in relative comfort while they were here.
    For supposedly plotting against King James I, Sir Walter Raleigh found that the Bloody Tower was to be his home for the next 13 years (1603-1616), and both the lower and upper chambers now show what life would have been like for him during that time.
    The most famous prisoners of all though were the two young sons of Edward IV who have gone down in history as the ‘Princes in the Tower’. Following his father’s death in 1483, 12 year old Edward was next in line to the throne, but his uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester, took him and his 9 year old brother Richard to the tower for their own protection whilst preparations were made for the coronation. It wasn’t Edward that was crowned King though. It was dear old Uncle Richard, who became Richard III.
    What happened in between is anyone’s guess, but what is clear is that the two boys were never seen again. Nobody has ever been able to prove, or disprove, that King Richard was complicit in their murder.
    In 1674 the bodies of two children were found buried nearby and have been re-buried in Westminster Abbey as the two princes, but permission to have their bodies exhumed and tested by modern methods have so far been refused - and so the truth still remains a mystery - as it has done for the last 500 years.

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    Pt 3 - The Medieval Palace

    by EasyMalc Written Apr 12, 2015

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    When King Stephen died in 1154, King Henry II became the first of the Plantagenet Kings that were to reign until 1485.
    During this medieval period, moats, curtain walls and towers were added to bolster up the defences - not to keep out invading foreign armies - but to thwart any attack from the King’s subjects. King John, Henry III and Edward II all had trouble with their Barons and in 1381 the Peasant’s Revolt tested the young Richard II.
    Although the Tower was never meant to be used as a palace, there were occasions when the King of the realm found it useful to hole up here for a while.
    It was King Henry III and his son Edward I who built what is now called the Medieval Palace. In fact it’s a combination of three towers - St Thomas’s, Wakefield and Lanthorn - that make up the royal apartments.
    Entry to the Medieval Palace is up some steps into St. Thomas’s Tower in Water Lane.
    Edward I had this tower built between 1275 and 1279 but rarely stayed here. The chambers have been re-created though to show what it would have been like when he did.
    Underneath the tower he added a new water entrance which we now know as Traitor’s Gate.
    Anne Boleyn was one of those who passed through the gate in preparation for her marriage to Henry VIII. Henry had St. Thomas’s Tower re-built for her in 1532, they got married in 1533 and she was beheaded in 1536.
    The Wakefield tower was built by Henry III between 1220 and 1240 and became his private chamber, but when his son Edward I came to power he changed its use and the present re-construction shows it as his throne room.
    Before leaving, take a look behind the painted screen which hides a small chapel. You’ll see a reference in the tiled floor on the spot where the last Lancastrian king, Henry VI was murdered in 1471.
    As you walk along the wall towards the Lanthorn Tower it appears to be the best looking of the three towers, but the interior lacks the feel of the other two, and the reason for that is because it was re-built in the 19th century. The original was built at the same time as the Wakefield Tower and became the King’s Chamber after the death of Edward I. It was gutted by fire in 1774 and then demolished.
    The tour of the Medieval Palace should take around 30 minutes. Bear in mind that although the buildings are medieval in origin, some of them would have changed their appearance somewhat over the years. The reconstructed rooms are obviously recent, but are based on historical fact as much as humanly possible.

    The Lanthorn Tower Traitor's Gate St Thomas's Tower The Throne Room, Wakefield Tower
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    Pt 2 - The White Tower

    by EasyMalc Written Apr 11, 2015

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    The Keep, known as the White Tower, is the oldest part of the Tower of London and therefore seems as good a starting point as any for my reviews on this famous World Heritage Site.
    After William the Conqueror’s successful invasion of England in 1066 he needed to secure its most powerful city, and by building an intimidating fortress in a strategic position next to the River Thames, there was going to be no doubt as to who was the man now in charge.
    Work started on the Keep around 1078 and wasn’t completed until 1100, 13 years after William’s death.
    It would have been the most formidable stronghold in the land when it was built, and was never intended to be used as a palace.
    The White Tower - given its nickname after Henry III had it whitewashed - became more of a place to store arms and munitions than anything else and this is reflected in what there is to see inside.
    There are three levels and a basement, which the guidebook suggests that you allow 30 minutes for.
    Taking the steps up to the Ground Level (!) will bring you to the Armouries and the ‘Line of Kings’.
    This fascinating collection of armour of King Henry VIII, Charles I, James II and others has been on display for 300 years and is described as the world’s longest running visitor attraction. There’s no point in rushing through here to be honest because I found this the most rewarding part of the White Tower.
    Up on the next level is the wonderfully simple Romanesque Chapel of St. John, but unfortunately one of the places off limits for photography.
    The top level has a display about ordnance at the tower, which I didn’t find particularly interesting, plus a space for temporary exhibitions which I did, because it was about the Royal Mint. Don’t miss the Block and Axe that was used for beheading though!
    The end of the self-guided tour brings you down into the basement where the interrogation and torture of prisoners like Guy Fawkes supposedly took place, but which now holds a fine collection of cannons and other weapons in the Storehouse.
    In case you were wondering, there is no access to the roof of the tower.

    King Henry VIII Armour - Henry & Katherine motif
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    Expensive but shouldn't be missed

    by EasyMalc Written Apr 9, 2015

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    With over 3 million visitors in 2014, the Tower of London is the most visited paid for attraction in the UK. It goes without saying therefore that a bit of planning before going there will help the visit go more smoothly.
    Timing is always important of course but with a steep entry price of £24.50 to get in for a full adult fare, it pays to find out if you can reduce your admission costs. If, like me, you travel to London by train, then you can check out the 2for1 London offers available to passengers. The offers are not always the same but if you’re lucky you may well find that the Tower of London is on the list. The 2for1 offer is on the full adult fare and not concessions, even if you’re eligible. There are also small reductions on the Tower of London website if you book in advance.
    It’s worth considering a membership to the ‘Historic Royal Palaces’ which also covers Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House and Kew Palace (Kew Gardens are not included). The individual cost is as low as £37 a year for a Direct Debit membership. Definitely worth considering if you intend visiting these places.
    Getting to the Tower is pretty straightforward. Tower Hill Tube station is just across the road. For those who are interested in these sort of things, the site of The Scaffold can be seen on Tower Hill, so you may want to check it out before crossing the busy road to the Tower. There were only 7 executions inside the Tower and 125 on Tower Hill.
    After crossing the road, the Welcome Centre where you buy your tickets, is on the right hand side and the entrance to the Tower is usually through the West Gate, but not always. It’ll be well signposted in any case.
    After entering the Tower you may want to consider going on one of the popular ‘Yeoman Warder’ tours. They run every half an hour and last about an hour. I’m not usually one to go on guided tours but I’d make an exception for one of these. Not only are they a part of the image, but they’re also very informative and highly entertaining - just don’t call them ‘Beefeaters’.
    There are no hidden extra costs after buying your ticket and photography is permitted except in the Crown Jewels, the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula, the Martin Tower and the Chapel of St. John inside the White Tower.
    To see most of the things there are to see I suggest that you allow at least 3 hours. Ok. It can be expensive to visit, but if you’re not likely to get another chance, it’s still worth biting the bullet, especially if you can find an offer that trims the admission price.

    Site of the Tower Hill Scaffold
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    Tower of London

    by solopes Updated Mar 28, 2015

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    In the old days, this building should impress by its size and strength. Nowadays, surrounded by the high monsters of modernity, it is only an historic curiosity.

    It surely deserves a visit, and inside, you will feel back that sensation of power and domination.

    The only thing that may become boring is the long visit to the huge collection of weapons, most of them so similar that you feel like being in a armory instead of a museum. Maybe that's the idea...

    London
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  • INCREDIBLE!

    by savesome21 Written Feb 28, 2015

    This place is full of history and mystery! The architecture is compelling and the activities and things to see within the walls are even more so. This is a great way to spend the day and is great for families! There are restaurants and activities on sight. For my full review on the Tower of London and other sights around London check out my blog:
    http://thewannabegypsy.blogspot.com/
    Happy Travels!

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  • INCREDIBLE!

    by savesome21 Written Feb 28, 2015

    THIS IS A MUST STOP...there is so much history to explore and the architecture and structure is simply mind-blowing. This is great for families and offers up a day for of excitement. Visit my blog: http://thewannabegypsy.blogspot.com/ for a more detailed review and reviews on several things in London! I hope this was much help. Happy Travels!

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    Crown Jewels.

    by breughel Updated Jan 31, 2015

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    First thing when visiting the Tower is to hurry up to the Waterloo block where the Crown Jewels are on exhibit. Do it before 09.30 am. to avoid the lines. Visitors are whizzed past the Crowns on a moving walkway.
    If you are early you can go back and look again if they are real or fakes because that is an often asked question.
    As I believe what the authorities, especially Royals, say and as the jewels are surrounded with Beefeaters, an armed guard at the entrance (photo 2) and also some canons (photo 1) in front of the building they must be real?!
    Furthermore the motto on the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom being "Honi soit qui mal y pense" (= shamed be he who thinks evil of it) I can't imagine Elisabeth II making me pay 22.00 £ (2014) to see fake diamonds?!
    But another thing is sure; replicas of the British Crown Jewels exist because they were shown on an exhibition in Hannover in 1997.
    Photos being not allowed inside I took pics of the guard at the entrance. Actually this guard is from the same battalion as the guard at Buckingham Palace.

    When I visited the Tower Guards battalions alternated with the 2nd Battalion of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (PWRR) an infantry regiment for the south east of England, known as "The Tigers" (photo 3).
    It must be terribly boring to stay in front of the Crown Jewels not even smiling to the pretty girls passing by, just from time to time moving riffle from one hand to another and doing a few steps.

    If you want to see more militaria, on the right of the Crown Jewels building has opened the Fusiliers' Museum (photo 4).

    Canons protecting Crown Jewels! Guard from 2nd Battalion PWRR PWRR Fusiliers Museum on the right.
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    Tower of London

    by grayfo Written Dec 22, 2014

    Building work for Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress was started by William the Conqueror in 1078 but the Tower has been extended and strengthened many times by succeeding monarchs. It has been a fortress, royal residence, an arsenal and more famously a prison. Facing the river is Traitor’s Gate through which many famous prisoners have entered the Tower, never to leave. These days the Tower is known for being the home of the Crown Jewels, Yeoman Warder Tours, the White Tower and the ravens, there is also a choice of eateries within the Grounds of the Tower.

    The Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site / Grade I and Grade II Listed

    Tuesday to Saturday: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
    Sunday and Monday: 10:00 am to 4:30 pm

    Adults: £22.00
    Children (5-15): £11.00
    Children (Under 5): Free

    email visitorservicestol@hrp.org.uk

    June 2013

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    The Tower 1

    by littleman Written Nov 23, 2014

    I found the Tower of London to be the most interesting of all the historical places in London.I recommend getting there first thing in the morning to avoid the crowd.The crowds and line to get in are unbearable so make sure you buy your tickets from the ticket office.You can not buy a ticket at the entrance...they are only receiving tickets.I saw people waiting for a long time in line only to be told to go back up the hill to the ticket office!

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    The Tower of London

    by toonsarah Written Nov 23, 2014

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    Although it is some years since I was inside the Tower of London, it was a regular favourite London destination in my childhood and teenage years, and I have been a couple of times since when escorting visitors around the city. Certainly it is a sight no first time visitor to London should miss, and although expensive (even with the deals that can sometimes be had, especially off season), it has plenty to occupy you for some hours to ensure you get value out of that entrance fee. And besides that, if on a budget, a walk around the perimeter is free and offers decent views of the outer wall, some of the main buildings (including the central White Tower) and the famous Traitors’ Gate.

    The Tower is not in fact one tower but like most castles a whole series of them piercing a surrounding wall with a keep and other buildings protected inside. The most famous and distinctive is the White Tower, the keep, and that is the one you will recognise from countless images. This is also the oldest part of the structure, dating back to the time of William the Conqueror who soon after his conquest in 1066 built one of his first strongholds here as part of his plan to hold on to the land he had won in battle: “several strongholds were made ready in the City to safeguard against the fickleness of the huge and fierce population, for he saw that his first task was to bring the Londoners completely to heel” [quote found on the Tower’s website].

    Today the City of London has a skyline of high-rise buildings showcasing the latest in modern architecture. But in William’s day this fortress would have dominated the city, taller than anything that had ever been seen here. At its highest point it was 90 feet (27.5 metres) tall and must have been an impressive sight to the locals, recently invaded and defeated and coming to terms with a new ruler. This was not William’s residence, not a royal palace, but a true fortress-stronghold t protect what needed protecting and overawe the populace. And so it remained for centuries.

    Throughout the medieval period the Tower was expanded and fortified, and by the mid 14th century was much as we see it today. Gradually it was put to additional uses – as a prison, as the home of the Royal Mint, as secure storage for important documents, as a place of celebration marking coronations and victory in battle and even as home to a menagerie (which was later moved to a new site in the north of London, becoming London Zoo).

    But is its role as a prison and place of execution that most captures the modern-day imagination perhaps. Among the most famous former prisoners are the so-called Princes in the Tower – the sons of Edward IV who were held captive here by their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester. He seized the throne that should rightfully have come to the older of the two boys, 12 year old Edward, and the brothers disappeared. It has never been established with certainty what happened to them, though murder at their uncle’s instigation seems the most plausible explanation. But this has never been proved, though in 1674 workmen at the Tower dug up a wooden box containing two small human skeletons which is the closest we have to any evidence.

    Other famous prisoners include Sir (later Saint) Thomas More and two of Henry VIII’s wives, all of whom were also executed here, as was Lady Jane Grey , while Elizabeth I was also imprisoned here by her half sister Mary but lived to inherit the throne and become one of the country’s most successful and powerful rulers.

    The Tower’s modern appearance is due largely to the Victorian aesthetic and taste for cleaned-up history which saw buildings restored to their notion of medievalism and some even destroyed to improve sightlines to the White Tower. Gradually the Tower became mainly a visitor attraction, and today it remains one of the most visited sights in London.

    Attractions here include;
    ~ the White Tower itself, which houses the Royal Armouries Collections with arms and armour dating back to the time of Henry VIII
    ~ the Crown Jewels, top of most visitors’ must-see list, and a dazzling display of historic crowns, sceptres, diamond-studded necklaces and much more (with many of the pieces still in use today by the present Queen)
    ~ the Wakefield Tower’s exhibition about imprisonment and torture at the Tower
    ~ Tower Green, site of the scaffold where many famous prisoners were executed, including Anne Boleyn, which today has a memorial to all who died here
    ~ the resident ravens, a favourite sight of mine as a child - legend says that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress (there are actually seven here at any one time, so as to have a spare!)
    ~ the Yeoman Warders, the Tower’s historic military force (nicknamed Beefeaters) who today offer popular guided tours of the main sights

    Admission is a hefty £22 for adults (a little cheaper if booked online), £11 for children 5-15 years old (under fives are free) and £18.70 for concessions (students, visitors with disabilities, over 60s). But this includes everything I’ve listed above and more, so if you’re able to spend half a day at least here you can definitely get real value out of that ticket. Also note that the Tower sometimes features on the list of attractions included in the Travelcard 2 for 1 deals. Travelling alone? Don’t let that put you off using this option, as you will probably be able to find another lone traveller in the queue who’d welcome your suggestion of pairing up to get in at half price! Note all my prices are correct as of November 2014.

    The White Tower Beefeater Poppies for the WW1 centenary
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    Removal of Poppies@ Tower of London Part 3

    by Galaxy31 Updated Nov 16, 2014

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    The time has come for the removal of the poppies, after the first installation on the 5th of August to remember the 888,246 lives that were lost in the First World War.
    I’m was surprised to see yesterday morning how fast they are going removing them but then again it’s so many volunteers on hand.
    The white tents it’s where they clean them and boxing them up ready to be removed to a warehouse and repacked ready for deliver to the people that bought them.
    All poppies have been sold at £25.00 each and all the money that has been raised it will go to six armed forces affiliated charities. Also in the Tower and by the traitor’s gate were people have been throwing money in the water it will be collected by volunteers and go towards the charities.
    Part of the exhibition will go on a National tour across the country for the next four years and after it will be a permanent exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.

    Removal of Poppies Removal of Poppies Removal of Poppies Removal of Poppies Removal of Poppies
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