White Tower - The Line of Kings.
This gallery of 10 wooden horses from about 1690 belongs to a display of Kings in armour mounted on these carved horses.
The Line of Kings as it is called started with 10 figures to which during the centuries were added more monarchs. The heads of the monarchs were sculptured; the figures were dressed with armours and seated on the life size sculptured horses.
The Line of Kings was on display in the New Armouries of the Tower already in the 17th c.
Ten of the wooden horses have been brought together and restored but without the Kings in armour. Each horse has the armour of the corresponding King alongside the wall and the names of the monarchs are displayed on the red banners above each horse.
It seems that replicas in fiberglass of the armours will be made. The helmets will contain the original carved and painted heads of the Kings so that they will appear like they were on display around 1800
It's very special and I think unique.
There were not only heraldic lions at the Tower of London but also real ones!
In 1251 King Henry III was keeping a polar bear. There were leopards and even an elephant. Later there were six lions kept in a barbican called Lion Tower. The royal collection was increased by diplomatic gifts and became a public attraction during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Begin of the 19th c. the menagerie was open to the public at six pence the entry.
On a board of the Royal Beasts exhibition in the newly-opened Brick Tower, is written that visitors bringing a live dog or cat to feed the beasts would not pay the entry. Should we believe this?!
There was even a Monkey Room with monkeys living in a furnished room to amuse the visitors. In 1831 the 32 animals were moved to the zoo of Regents Park.
This 6 centuries old Menagerie explains why there are a number of animal sculptures at the Tower.
The Tower of London is one of the must-see sights in London. You can wander around lost or you can sign up for a tour. They are nicknamed the Beefeater's Tours but these are tours conducted by Yeoman Warder's who have been in the King's/Queen's service for more than 20 years. They are all jolly fellows in full costume (uniform) and they are informative and very funny. We just loved our tour and seemingly so did everyone else with us.
If you have kids with you, it's a great way to get history down painlessly. If you just enjoy a good time and want to know about what you are seeing, it's great fun and you learn a lot.
You'll see the Crown Jewels and the Ravens among other things. Check the web site listed below for details.
After several years of scaffolding, scrubbing and polishing the Norman architecture of the White Tower is again visible since begin 2011 like it must have looked around 1100 after the death of William the Conqueror the Duke of Normandy who had it built.
It is certainly the most imposing building (36m x 32.5m across and 27.5m tall) of the Tower complex. It is also inside that there is most to see. As the White Tower is close to the Crown Jewels (where you should start your visit early to avoid the lines) continue with the interesting and spectacular Royal Armouries' collection.
"Fit for a King" (open since April 2010) shows five hundred years of spectacular royal armour. The skill of the royal armourers was to combine practical protection for tournaments and battle with breathtaking designs and decoration.
My photo 2 shows the gilt armour of Charles I, the only English monarch ever to be executed. He was beheaded on a scaffold erected just outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall in 1649.
There are also a number of weapons and guns on display; they belong to the Royal Armouries whose main museum is located in Leeds. Photo 3 shows a heavy mortar of caliber 18 1/2 inches used at the siege of Namur (Belgium) in 1695.
I also liked the decoration of a 24 pounder bronze gun (photo 4 & 5) made in Mechelen (Belgium) 1643 and captured from the Spaniards.
It was a hated symbol of oppression. The invading Normans in 1066 wanted rapid subjugation of the newly conquered English and set about their own "shock and awe" strategy, with what some have described as the greatest programme of castle building in history. The Tower of London was the Norman rock in the English capital - a place of security and residence. A place to collect taxes from the lucrative harbour town.
It's not a beautiful building. It was never intended to be. It's grim, sheer curtain wall has stern loopholes that stare impassively out. The bastions are solid fists planted into the English earth. The castle itself, deep behind impenetrable defences, is coldly symmetric. It's a building that easily feeds into the myth of the wronged noble, locked away on the whim of a capricious monarch, to be tortured in the dungeon for the whereabouts of Catholic spies, before being executed for treason. In truth few were tortured or executed here.
It's a place of enormous importance in British history. Fought over repeatedly it has often been seen as the key to holding the country. It's been the home of many royal families, before notoriously become a home of a different kind to two Tudor Princes. In a story that has been told and dramatized many times over the centuries, King Richard III had his rivals to the throne held in the tower and then murdered. Their bones were discovered in the White Tower nearly two centuries after their disappearance.
Today the Tower of London is a much happier place, with its mythology and reputation drawing in tourists by the busload, none daunted by the steep price of entry. For over 21 pounds the visitors gets access to the entire castle, seeing the Beefeaters, the ravens, the Crown Jewels, the torture chamber and the White Tower. It's all very touristy, there are often huge queues, but its probably the highlight of many visitors' trip to London.
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 1) and also some canons (photo 2) 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 21.45 £ 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).
One of the highlights of the trip was the Tower of London! We started with a tour by one of the Yeoman Warders, or 'Beefeaters', who actually live at the Tower and know all about it. The tour was very entertaining and he pointed out the many uses this place has served--from the royal mint to a zoo to a palace for the royalty to its most infamous purpose, a prison. He told us a lot of stories about different beheadings and prisoners at the Tower, and managed to make that subject entertaining and informative.
We then explored on our own, seeing the Crown Jewels (there are a lot more than I expected, and for every purpose from the sovereign orb to the coronation spoon used to anoint the new kings or queens). We couldn't take photographs there, but everything was very beautiful and elaborate. Then we went through the White Tower, which was the original part in the middle built by William the Conqueror in about 1000AD. There they had displays of royal living quarters and armor. We stopped by the memorial to the six executions that took place in private at the Tower (including those of two of Henry VIII's wives). There is a memorial for those who were beheaded publicly on Tower Hill, where those executions took place.
Next we headed to the "Bloody Tower", where the Princes in the Tower were suspected to be murdered by Richard the III (their uncle) and onto the exhibit "Torture at the Tower." In reality, very few people were actually tortured at tower, as it wasn't very common in England, and so the exhibit was short. It only featured three torture devices--the scavenger's daughter, the rack, and manacles.
We then proceeded to the walk through the towers and ramparts, which also feature displays about medieval life, such as chapels, living quarters, the exotic animals the rich would give each other, past royal crowns (but with the jewels removed), etc. It was very windy but it was still a very nice walk up on the ramparts. After this we ate and then visited Beauchamp tower, where you can see graffiti on the walls, made by prisoners 500 years ago.
I definitely recommend visiting this piece of England while you're in London!
London, or, the London culture, is strongly imbued with a tolerant cosmopolitan character, where shared cultures of the whole world around are the common way of coexistence between human beings.
So, when you visit this emblematic -and bloody, in the literal sense- place, perhaps you'll be intrigued by the evident contradiction between the cruel history of this english icon and the modern atmosphere of an open minded city.
The memories and names of innocent victims hidden behind those thick cold stone walls scream silently to be known, because of the overwhelming wave of blood happened here, the countless murders committed -and their thrillingly indifferent executioners- of every gender, age, activity, or whatever who were the victims
A felt a very heavy sense of suffering, indeed I felt profoundly uncomfortable inside of this macabre fortress, despite my unquenchable thirst for knowledge about facts and history.
Anyway, you must visit it, in order to understand why the violence still working today.
This ancient fortress continues to pack in the crowds with its macabre associations with the legendary figures imprisoned and/or executed here. There are more spooks here per square foot than in any other building in the whole of haunted Britain. Headless bodies, bodiless heads, phantom soldiers, icy blasts, clanking chains -- you name them, the Tower's got them. Centuries after the last head rolled on Tower Hill, a shivery atmosphere of impending doom still lingers over the Tower's mighty walls. Plan on spending a lot of time here.
The Tower is actually an intricately patterned compound of structures built through the ages for varying purposes, mostly as expressions of royal power. The oldest is the White Tower, begun by William the Conqueror in 1078 to keep London's native Saxon population in check. Later rulers added other towers, more walls, and fortified gates, until the buildings became like a small town within a city. Until the reign of James I (beginning in 1603), the Tower was also one of the royal residences. But above all, it was a prison for distinguished captives.
Every stone of the Tower tells a story -- usually a gory one. In the Bloody Tower, according to Shakespeare, Richard III's henchmen murdered the two little princes (the young sons of his brother, Edward IV). Richard knew his position as king could not be secure as long as his nephews were alive, and there seems no reasonable doubt that the princes were killed on his orders. Attempts have been made by some historians to clear his name, but Richard remains the chief suspect, and his deed caused him to lose the "hearts of the people," according to the Chronicles of London at the time.
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames. We spent there half a day though it deserves more close visit if you have time.
The White Tower.
The Crown Jewels.
Coins and Kings.
Nearest station: Tower Hill underground station
Bus routes: 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1
The Tower is also served by all major sightseeing bus tours.
Tuesday – Saturday 09:00 - 17:30
Sunday – Monday 10:00 - 17:30
Tickets and prices in May of 2013.
(You may compare it with May of 2004 when it cost me £13.50!).
Child (under 16) £10.75
You can watch my 4 min 43 sec Video London Tower out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Last visit June 2013, got 2 for 1 entry with a valid travelcard
The Tower of London is my #1 must see attraction, I have visited at least 6 times now on different trips to London and still find it fascinating. The Tower has a long, intriguing, sometimes bloody history, full of colorful characters from the 9 day Queen Jane Grey, the two Princes killed and buried in the Tower by their evil uncle, King Henry VIII and his 6 wives, two of which were beheaded inside it's walls.
The best time to visit the Tower is first thing in the morning before the crowds arrive, I'm guessing it's good to also pick a weekday over a weekend. You want to make sure you have a good weather day as much of the visit is outdoors. On our most recent visit we got there around 10:30am on a Monday, there was a 10-15 minute line to get tickets and no line to see the Crown Jewels, not even later in the day which is not my usual experience. I still like to go see them first just in case the lines grow later in the day so you can spend as much time gawking at the baubles as you please. I then double back to the entrance and take one of the amusing and informative beefeater tours, not to be missed. That was also crowded but the beefeaters have loud voices. If you are not engaged in the 1st few minutes, you might think about coming back for a different guide, I've had some really great ones and some that were just OK.
Several of the buildings are open to visitors, the White Tower has the armoury and the Hands on History Exhibit which is an interactive section for kids, you can walk along the walls and visit some of the towers, visit the Medieval Palace and check out the ravens, legend has it that the kingdom would fall if the ravens ever left so they've ensured a few stick around by clipping their wings and having understudies!
Be sure to check out the visit planner on the attached website and check to see if there's anything special going on while you are there, we almost missed the siege weapons demostration in the moat that is exclusive to the summertime and only performed a couple of times during the day. Budget at least 4-5 hours here, 3 hours was not enough as the beefeater tour alone is an hour. I've eaten lunch here a couple of time but you can also bring a picnic lunch as they food here is just OK.
Part medieval fortress and part museum, the Tower of London enables visitor to glimpse over 900 years of London’s history. Famous for being a prison, its lesser-known roles include having been a former royal mint, a military garrison, and London’s first zoo (In the Middle Ages monarchs liked sending each other exotic animals.) The execution site may be gore-free (There is only a small plaque listing seven names – most people were executed on nearby Tower Hill.), but to add back the gory details, simply join a Beefeater tour (included in the admission price) and have the place brought to life with an hour of gruesome but supposedly accurate historical tales. Then catch a glimpse than you will ever dream of owning by visiting the Crown Jewels – the queue is inevitable, but they’re worth the wait.
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...
On the contrary of what some might think the Tower of London is only the 6th most popular attraction in London with 2.5 million visitors (2011). British Museum (6 million visitors) and other free entry museums are well before the Tower in number of visitors. I think that the adult ticket at 20,90 £, children 6 - 16 yr at 10,45 £, students & + 60yr at 17,60 £ are a reason for this even if the Tower has quite developed its spectacle part (since my previous visit 50 years ago!).
There are actually 3 usual ways of buying your ticket and avoiding lines:
- Go to one of the 4 ticket counters at the opening (Tuesday - Saturday 09.00 h; Sunday & Monday 10.00 h). You can see from my photo 1 that the lines are rather short on a Saturday in August.
- Buy your ticket the day before after 16 h, no line.
- Book your ticket online (small price reduction). You can choose to collect your tickets on the day of your visit or have them posted to you. However, if you are booking less than 7 working days (UK) or 10 working days (non-UK) in advance, you will need to collect your tickets on the day. Information on where to collect your tickets will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Be well aware that you cannot print your tickets at your home as you are often doing for plane or train tickets.
At the entry of the Tower there is some lining up even at 9.00 h because of the security check of your bag (photo 2).
Like already mentioned here there is lining up at the Crown Jewels. Start your visit with this part. Till about 09.30 h you can enter directly the building (photo 4). Later you have to pass by crowd barriers who canalize the flow of visitors (photo 3).
For the other parts there is here and there some short lining to pass narrow doors.
Take also into account there are many stairs.
You can see about everything in 4 hours time.
Should you not wish to spend so much money for the entrance fee you can walk around the grounds outside the gate. Visit the display in the ticket office, the souvenir shop and wander down to Tower Pier, then see the two canons on the grass facing the river. Look at the Dead Man's Hole by the Tower Bridge, and Observe the Tower from the tube station.