The Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of the most famous historical buildings in the world. The Tower founder William I of England, better known as William the Conqueror, had the Great Tower now referred to as the White Tower built. William the Conqueror destroyed Harold II, in 1066 and began building his castle on the river Thames in London.
The first structure was a simple timber and earth enclosure joined to the original east and south stone walls of the old Roman town of Londinium.
The original structure was completed by adding a ditch and palisade along the north and west sides. The castle has been constantly improved and extended by adding other smaller towers, extra buildings, walls and walkways. It now represents a splendid example of a castle, fortress, prison, palace and museum.
The Yeoman Warders, sometimes called Beefeaters, can be seen all over the Tower grounds. They were originally guards for the Tower and more importantly the prisoners in the Tower. Today they are available for picture opportunities or to provide a little history and local color.
Speaking of color, the Tower of London is resplendent with stained glass windows in each of the small round towers along the outer wall. The lighting effects in these small rooms is incredible, photographs don't do them justice. We suspected the stained glass was a late addition to the Tower, since many of the openings (windows), in this castle as well as others were just open with no glass at all.
Tours are greatly enhanced by the demonstrations of medieval life in almost every area of the Tower grounds. The players are always available to explain what you are seeing and add historical perspective to the scene. Of course the costumes are beautifully made and many of the rooms contain original or re-creations of period furnishings, adding to the effect.
The Queen's house located in the Southwest corner of the Tower grounds was where distinguished prisoners, including Anne Boleyn, were held prior to execution on the Tower Green. The last prisoner held in the structure was Rudolf Hess, the Deputy Fuhrer of Nazi Germany. He was held there for a few days in May of 1941.
The buildings in the area now accommodate officials for the Tower of London.
There is a re-creation of the beheading block on the North edge of the Tower Green. This was a convenient place for the Kings of England to perform their version of a divorce. Several women tourists placed their head on the block for photographs by their husbands. For some reason Mary Jo refused to do that?
Of course Mary Jo was more than happy to tour the Jewel House on the Tower Grounds. She found a number of things she would love to add to here collection, like the Star of India!
The Jewel House is a museum containing many of the Crown Jewels. You won't see any pictures in this site, since they are copyrighted by the Crown. There is a gift shop next to the Jewel House where you can view re-creations of the Jewels, buy photographs and books on the the subject along with the normal stuff you expect in any British gift shop.
The Tower of London is a wonderful way to spend a day or more if you have the time. Beside the history and wonderful stories abounding in the Tower, the architecture and views all around the Tower make it a lovely visual experience.
Soothing to the Soul!
The entire area around the Tower of London is surrounded by walk ways. You can spend many enjoyable hours looking over the Tower or the wonderful scenery around it. And we did our share of walking around as well as spending money in the Crown's shops.
If you would like to know more about the Tower of London, and who wouldn't, please visit the Tower of London Website.