Tower of London, a must-see for every tourist. You may find it a bit crowded. And if following the crowds is all you do, you might miss some of its best attractions. Researching the Tower in advance can help you make the most of it. Visit Tower of London Tour before reading this.
A little history first: The Tower was built by the Normans in 1066 after they invaded the UK. They wanted to retain control of the land and so constructed a series of forts. White Tower, the Norman fortress at the heart of the site. This tower was made of Caen stones brought from Normandy to be used as the building material. There are fifteen feet of wall thickness at the base. It’s a very strong tower with a strict geometric design and round Norman arches. It is believed that the roofs of the corner turrets, which are cute and small, were later added.
In time, the tower expanded. An approximately pentagonal-shaped curtain wall protected the Tower all around, on both sides of the Thames and between the Tower of London and City of London. White Tower, then, became the centre of a large royal fort which housed a number of functions such as the Royal Mint (armoury), the Treasury and the Royal Mint. It also contained a prison, an execution place, and even a Royal Menagerie containing lions bears elephants. Visit the White Tower to see a few of its functions, but no zoo. Just a couple of ravens.
To start, here are some practical tips. Get there as early as possible, at least by nine in the morning, to avoid crowds. If you want to see the Tower without too many people around, get there early, at nine o’clock sharp.
A winter trip is not to be overlooked. In winter the Tower feels more atmospheric and less crowded.
Do not miss the Yeoman Warders tours, the proper title for the Beefeaters. It’s worth noting that they only wear the blue uniform on occasion, and don’t change to red-and gold.
Let’s end with a little trivia, for some fun.
Why did Traitors’ gate have a sluice?
This was because water provided a more reliable way of getting prisoners up to the Tower. A rescue would be much harder to execute, and it also prevented rioting from breaking out in the City’s crowded streets.
Who is responsible for the care and feeding of ravens? What happens if they are fired?
Answer: Seven ravens are fed by a Ravenmaster every day. Raven George lost his job because he refused to quit eating the television aerials. Ravens also have a history of quitting – Raven Grog disappeared and was last spotted outside a bar in East End.
Salt Towers are a type of tower.
Answer: Tower Bridge Approach, the round tower at the end of the bridge is known as the Salt Tower. It was here that meat would be preserved prior to refrigeration.
What places of worship are there in the Tower?
Answer: It does have two. St John’s Chapel is a small chapel in the White Tower. It’s also the place where Anne Boleyn’s ashes were buried. St Peter ad Vincula has services on Sundays. Sung matins starts at 11. It’s a great choir, but if your only intention is to attend the service without seeing the Tower then you should enter through the West Gate.
You can also visit Norwich, where you will find a Norman church and castle built from Caen stones, similar to the White Tower.