Tower of London
History of the Tower, Original Builder and Buildings
- 1078 : First foundation, oldest place, fortress and prison in Europe.
- The original builder: William the Conqueror, he wanted to colonize England.
- The tower first consisted of a modest enclosure built into the Southeast corner of the Roman city walls.
- By the late 1070’s the White Tower had become the most feared part of the tower.
- Nothing in England had been built like it before.
The Legend of the Ravens:
- Six ravens never leave the fortress.
- Charles II, insisted that the ravens of the tower should be protected.
- John Flamsteed, the astronomer complained that the ravens impeded the business of his observatory that was located in the White Tower.
- The ravens wings are trimmed but, some still go missing.
- Raven George was dismissed for eating television wires.
- Raven Grog was last seen outside a pub.
- The Ravens eat 170g of raw meat a day plus a bird biscuit soaked in blood.
The Tower Used as a Prison:
- Prisoners at the tower were not ordinary offenders, they were accused of treason.
- Prisoners ranged from monarchs to commoners.
- Offenses include:
- Trying to kill a monarch
- Helping rebels or foreign enemies.
- Speaking against the monarch.
- Counterfeiting coins.
- Only 22 execution have ever taken place within the Tower of London.
- Some prisoners lingered at the tower for many years, while others tried to escape.
- Bishop Flambar: former constable of the tower, was the first prisoner and the first escapee in 1100.
- Lord Lovat was convicted of treason and had the distinction of being the last man beheaded on Tower Hill, April 1, 1747 , execution day.
- One of the scaffolds collapsed resulting in twenty deaths of onlookers. the execution block is on display in the White Tower.
- Elizabeth I, Before coming to throne she had been imprisoned here in 1554 for being regarded as a threat to her sister Queen Mary.
- She was feared in the Tower.
- Anne Boley her mother had also been imprisoned and executed in 1536.
Torture in the Tower
- Most of the torture in the tower happened during the Tudor period
- Prisoners were mentally and physically tortured, they were shown an instrument and if they still did not co-operate they were tortured.
a.Rack: invented by John Holland
b. Two men one on each side, they would turn levers that moved rollers that then applied tension.
c. This is when most victims would confess state secrets.
d. Rack: Sort of like handcuffs that were attached to a wall, the victim was placed in by the wrists and left to hang.
The Royal Jewels Housed in the Tower
- Until 1649, the coronation regalia were kept at Westminster Abbey
- In July of 1377 Richard II’s coronation was moved into the tower, now the jewels stay housed there.
- 1671: Thomas Blood almost succeeded stealing the jewels.
- He became close to Keeper of the jewels, he returned later in the night with three others, knocked the Keeper out, only to have the Keepers son raise the alarm.
- October 30th 1841 the jewels were saved from a fire that broke out in the building next to the jewel house, the key could not be found, a police man had to force the bars open with a crowbar to save the jewels.
Used to House Monarch
- William I also known as William the conqueror, was the original creator of the tower.
- Henry III famous for being a nine year old king.
- transformed the tower.
- he stayed in the tower only 11 times in his 56 years.
3. Edward I Built the outer defenses of the Tower.
The Ceremony of the Keys:
- Is when they lock up the tower for the night.
- This has been done for 700 years with no fail.
- The ceremony lasts only seven minutes.
- At 21.53 the Chief Yeoman Warder, carrying the Keys of the Tower in one hand and a brass lantern in the other, collects his escort from the main body of the guard on duty within the Tower and proceeds to the entrance to secure the heavy wooden gates
- Used to protect the castle but now it is filled with 900,000 poppies.
- The poppies are used to remember all the lives lost in the First World War
- The moat was built during King Edward's first term. (1272-1307)
- Until the 1840’s the moat was filled with water, but due to its stagnancy it was promptly filled with earth.
The Tower Today:
- Open to the public, for 22 euros.
- You can view the tower and the Crown Jewels display, exhibitions including coins and kings, and the line of kings, plus the Yeoman warder guided tour , live re-enactments, white tower and Childrens activity trails.