Tower of London History
The Tower of London, officially known as His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It has served many purposes throughout its 900-year history, including as a royal palace, a prison, a fortress, a royal mint, a treasury, an arsenal, and a menagerie.
The Tower was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1078 as a symbol of Norman power over the newly conquered city of London.
Over the centuries, it has been expanded and modified by successive monarchs, resulting in a complex of buildings that includes the White Tower, the Royal Armouries, the Jewel House, the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, and various other structures.
One of the Tower’s most infamous uses was as a prison, with many high-profile figures being held there over the centuries. These included Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Guy Fawkes, among many others.
The Tower was also the site of numerous executions, including those of Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey.
The Tower of London has also played a crucial role in English history, serving as a symbol of royal power and prestige. It was used to store the Crown Jewels of England, and today, the Jewel House within the Tower complex displays some of the most important items in the collection, including the Imperial State Crown.
Today, the Tower of London is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London, drawing millions of visitors each year who come to see its historic buildings, explore its many exhibits, and learn about its fascinating history.
The Tower of London is open 7 days a week; however, the hours that it is open to the public shift throughout the year. Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Mondays and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., are the visiting hours during the summer season (which runs from March 1 to October 30). The last admission is at 4.30 o’clock.
Tickets for adults are £29.90, but additional fees may apply depending on whether you purchase them during peak, off-peak, or concession hours. There are also negotiations involving families.
- Adult: £28.90 Off-peak |£29.90 Peak.
- Child rates (ages 5-15) are £14.90 during peak times and £14.40 during off-peak times.
- Complimentary admission for children under the age of five.
- Concession: £24.00 during peak hours and £23.20 during off-peak hours.
- Family Saving 1 (one adult and up to three children) costs £52.20 during peak times and £50.50 during off-peak times.
- Family Saving 2 costs £82.10 during peak travel times and £79.40 during off-peak travel times.
Planning Your Trip to the Tower of London
To begin, there are a great number of ticket offices, which means that there are rarely any lines. Yet, there are times when you could have to wait anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes in line.
Second, there is a possibility that there will be longer lines inside for the most popular attractions, such as the Royal Jewels, particularly at the busiest times of the day. On the other hand, if you purchase your tickets online, you might be able to save both time and money.
A tour that is led by an expert and lasts for half an hour. It will take you a minimum of three hours even if you do not require the services of a guide throughout your visit. Because of this, you will have the opportunity to explore the entirety of the Tower in a relaxed and unhurried manner.
Be aware, however, that if you are travelling with young children, it is possible that the trip will take longer than three hours. This is because young children are more prone to loiter at attractions or want additional attention. Those who have an interest in history and wish to examine the artefacts in the Tower more attentively will probably not be able to view everything in three hours, and they may require as much as five hours to do so.
Things to Do at Tower of London
1. The Crown Jewels
At long last, the time that you have all been anticipating has here! Since more than six hundred years ago, the crown jewels have been protected at the Tower of London. These jewels were not worn by the kings and queens of England in their original incarnations.
On the other hand, this is the only collection that has been brought up to date since the monarchy was reinstated in the 17th century.
According to the explanation provided by Leslie Field, the original components were either melted down, sold, or destroyed while Oliver Cromwell was in power. This was an endeavour to completely remove any evidence of the monarchy from existence.
Despite this, Charles II, who succeeded Cromwell as King of England following the latter’s death, is credited with having the new royal ceremonial regalia of England’s Kings and Queens commissioned.
It is one of the most sought-after diamonds in the world, and it embodies the power that the British Empire wielded in its heyday. This is my favourite piece in this collection. Throughout the middle centuries, travellers exploring the Indian subcontinent came to the Koh-i-Nûr, which translates to “Mountain of Light” in Persian.
Anita Anand and William Dalrymple claim that the diamond’s ill-fated history may be traced back to a gloomy urban mythology which states that it brings men nothing but misfortune.
As a result, only female royals like Queen Alexandra, who lived in the 19th century, and the Queen Mother have ever been seen wearing it.
2. Lions of Kings
Do you have a passion for the history of warfare as well as for weapons and armour? Then you absolutely have to check out this exhibition. It is one of the largest armouries in the country and can be found on the ground level of the White Tower, where it is kept. Some of the items in the armoury date all the way back to the 15th century.
Moreover, it has the record for being the oldest display in the museum at the Tower of London. Since the 17th century, it has been utilised for the purpose of displaying these incredible artefacts.
3. Tower Bridge
The recognisable Tower Bridge is one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city of London, and it can be seen from the ramparts of the Tower of London. In contrast to the tower, the bridge didn’t be built until the late 19th century.
According to Brian Cookson, the bridge was conceived as a means to connect both sides of London over the river Thames in order to enhance traffic flow without interfering with the flow of traffic on the river itself.
A contest was held out to the general public to choose who would come up with the plan for the bridge, and Sir Horace Jones emerged victorious. He was the one who came up with the design that we use now, which is built in a Neogothic style.
4. Ghosts Folklore
According to the records kept by the Tower of London during its existence, there were around 8,000 prisoners housed there at one time or another. So, it should come as no surprise that ghost stories are one of the most popular aspects of this website. In point of fact, legend has it that this particular castle is England’s most haunted!
You might want to head over to the Salt Tower if you’re a fan of scary tales or if you’re going to be in the area when it becomes dark out. According to Daniel Farson, this structure is well-known for its eerie noises, which are so unsettling that even the guard dogs and warders feel unhappy in its presence.
The Bloody Tower is another ancient structure that has been reported to be haunted. According to Alison Weir, this location is said to be haunted by the spectres of the young princes because they are believed to have perished here while being held captive in the 15th century.
It is said that during the reign of Charles II, their skeletons were discovered on the premises inside of a chest. After that, he laid them to rest in Westminster Abbey. Yet, Anne Boleyn is widely considered to be the most well-known of the tower’s spectral residents, but more on that in a bit!
5. The Bloody Tower
This structure’s primary function was that of a detention centre during most of its history; due to its location, it was formerly known as the Garden Tower. In this location, several well-known and infamous opponents of the state were imprisoned, including the Princes who were held captive in the Tower.
Nigel Jones claims that Sir Walter Raleigh was the most well-known person to have lived in this structure. In spite of the fact that he is best remembered for his discoveries in America, which are credited with giving rise to the myth of El Dorado, he was accused of treason against King James I and imprisoned in the tower for a period of thirteen years.
6. The Tower Green
In direct proximity to the White Tower and to the west of it is where you will locate Tower Green. This location was set aside specifically for the execution of members of higher social classes. According to Daniel Diehl and Mark Donnelly, the manner in which a person was put to death frequently relied on the nature of the offence that was committed by the individual.
According to the historical records, a total of ten persons have been put to death by hanging on Tower Green over the course of human history. In addition to this, three of them had previously held the position of queen of England.
Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard both lost their crowns because Henry VIII divorced them also accused them of infidelity. The final one was Lady Jane Grey, whose tragic story has been the subject of a great deal of artistic and literary creation.
7. Guards of Tower of London
There is a very good chance that you will see the guards dressed in their magnificent uniforms at a variety of London attractions. On the other hand, if you want to get a good look at them up close, the Tower of London is the place to go. Nonetheless, keep in mind that these individuals are working or serving in the military, and you should treat them with respect.
You can observe the guard post that is located close to the Jewel and Queen’s House, but if you want to witness something that is even more impressive, you should go to one of the three daily ceremonies where the guards do their responsibilities.
If you take a tour of this place, you will most likely find out about their quarters and discover which one is rumoured to be haunted as well.
8. The Ravens
Do not pass up the opportunity to observe the renowned ravens! This is one of the most interesting and unique activities that you can do in this location (particularly if you have children). These magnificent birds have earned the reputation of being the watchdogs of the tower.
According to Chris Skaife, who serves as both the chief Ravenmaster and a Yeoman at the Tower of London, an old urban legend asserts that the Tower of London and the Kingdom of England would both be destroyed if the ravens were to abandon their roost. Hence, these ravens have been afforded protection ever since Charles II was in power.
Beefeaters, also known as Yeoman Warders, are responsible for providing all of the necessary care for the birds that reside at the Tower of London. This ensures that the birds have a pleasant experience while they are there. While the Beefeaters are also responsible for maintaining the tower, you should not be bashful about speaking with them and taking pictures of them while they are dressed in their quite impressive uniforms.
9. The White Tower
This is all that is left of the mediaeval fortification that was constructed at William the Conqueror’s behest. In addition to this, the castle’s keep is one of the largest that still stands in Europe.
It was given this moniker due to the fact that the walls had been whitewashed and covered in white plaster. It was constructed using Romanesque architecture.
According to historian Lise Hull, the building was not designed with the exclusive purpose of housing royal apartments, as evidenced by the architectural designs and the layout of the structure.
It was effectively the king’s home and office, and it provided him with a vantage point from which he could watch over the Thames and keep an eye out for any potential threats. When you go to this structure, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to explore the crypt of St. John’s Chapel.
Tower of London’s Nearest Restaurants
If you are seeking for a location to eat that has a connection to the Tower of London, you can go to the Tower of London’s own restaurant, which is located just one minute away. Here are some other recommendations for restaurants that are located nearby.
Check out our guide to the top restaurants in the area surrounding the Tower of London for more dining alternatives.
- New Armouries Restaurant: This is the Tower’s official eatery and sells both hot and cold refreshments, offering a variety of snack options in addition to more substantial meal options. The New Armouries Restaurant has a price point of ££ and serves quick snacks. It goes without saying that you can have fish and chips, but you can also get soups, sandwiches, salads, and even sweets.
- Cento Alla Torre: This restaurant maintains a level of refinement despite its reasonable prices. They serve dishes with an artisanal flair that is inspired by Italian cuisine, such as pasta prepared from scratch and a variety of meat and vegetarian options.
- La Dame De Pic: French cuisine is served in the upscale La Dame de Pic restaurant, which is operated by Anne-Sophie Pic, who has the title of being the female chef with the most Michelin stars in the world. After seeing the comparative splendour of the Tower of London, it is a fitting choice to go to a restaurant that has been awarded two Michelin stars, despite the fact that the meal will set you back quite a bit of money.
The Tower of London is conveniently placed within walking distance of a number of London Tube and national transport stations, including the following:
- Tower Hill Tube station, which is served by the District and Circle lines and has step-free access to street level, can be reached within 5 minutes.
- 15–20 minutes from the London Underground stations of Monument, Bank, Aldgate, and Aldgate East.
- 15–20 minutes walking time from both London Bridge and Fenchurch Street stations
- 20 minutes from the station on Liverpool Street
- 25 minutes away from the Charing Cross station in London
River boats are another mode of transportation available. Tower Pier is located right close to the entrance of the Tower of London, and it is accessible by river boats travelling from a variety of piers, including Westminster Pier and London Eye Pier.