THE TOWER OF LONDON
Join me on a tour of the Tower of London, which lies at the heart of English Royal History. Founded by William the Conqueror, the castle has been a fortress, an observatory, a menagerie, a treasure-house, a Mint, a public record office, an armoury, a royal residence – and a grim prison and place of execution. But if you stay with me, I’ll guarantee you come out not only safely but fully informed!
Though it started as just one keep – the White Tower – the Tower of London has expanded hugely over the centuries, mainly under Kings Richard I, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries and has often played a prominent role in English history. In the late 15th century the castle was the prison of the Princes in the Tower and Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes and Walter Raleigh were also confined here, as was Elizabeth I before she became Queen. No longer a working Royal Palace, today the Tower of London falls under the ceremonial charge of a Constable and is rightly one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions.
On my tour I will introduce the Tower’s history and its story through the years. You will see the Yeoman Warders (the ‘Beefeaters’), the famous Tower Ravens – of whom it is said if they ever leave the Tower the Kingdom will fall – the Medieval Palace with its recreations of the fabulous interiors used by kings and queens during their visits to their fortress, the collection of royal armours, including that of Henry VIII, and tread on Execution Green, where three Queens of England met their end. You’ll hear about the dastardly murders of Kings and Princes; about the Tower’s ghosts and its animal residents – including the polar bear who used to fish in the Thames – the gruesome instruments of torture used in the Tower’s dark cellars and about those who have tried to rob the Tower of money and treasures.
And, speaking of treasure, no tour would be complete without a visit to the spectacular Crown Jewels, which include among the priceless treasures: the Imperial State Crown; the Orb, Sceptres and Swords used in the Coronation Ceremony; St Edward’s Crown and Queen Elizabeth’s Crown. Several of the world’s largest and most magnificent jewels form part of the regalia and the gallery, like the Tower as whole, is an absolute ‘must-see’ for any visitor to London.
At few sights in London is there as much to see as there is at the Tower: I will help you see the best things in the best order and explain them in a way that will help the memories of your visit to this World Heritage Site stay in your memory for ever.