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  2. 4-star London Hotel in Wapping, walk to Tower of London and London City Hall.

  1. Discover London’s castle – a secure fortress, royal palace and infamous prison Discover London’s castle – a secure fortress, royal palace and infamous prison You can safely explore the history of this famous fortress, palace and prison. Your ticket includes the Crown Jewels, the White Tower ...

  2. The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets , which is separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill .

    • White Tower: 1078, Inner Ward: 1190s, Re-built: 1285, Wharf expansion: 1377–1399
    • Castle: 12 acres (4.9 ha), Tower Liberties: 6 acres (2.4 ha)
  3. Tower of London. The massive White Tower is a typical example of Norman military architecture, whose influence was felt throughout the kingdom. It was built on the Thames by William the Conqueror to protect London and assert his power. The Tower of London – an imposing fortress with many layers of history, which has become one of the symbols ...

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  5. The Bloodier Tower. The Tower of London has also been the infamous setting for stories of royal tragedy and death. During the Wars of the Roses, Henry VI was murdered here in 1471 and, later, the children of his great rival Edward IV – the Princes in the Tower - vanished within its walls in 1483.

    • The White Tower
    • Multi-Purpose Home of The Monarch
    • Famous Prisoners
    • Post-Medieval History
    • Beefeaters, Ravens, & The Crown Jewels

    When William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy won the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and embarked on the Norman Conquest of England, the new king sought to make his realm secure by building motte and bailey castles at strategically important locations. London was an obvious choice for a new castle and so work began on what would become the Tower of London around 1077. The castle was one of the first in England to have a free-standing tower keepor donjon. Work continued until c. 1100 using Kentish ragstone with details using dressed limestone from Caen in Normandy, and by the time it was finished, the two-storey rectangular tower was so impressive it gave its name to the whole castle: the Tower of London. The keep only received its now-famous name, the White Tower, thanks to a whitewashing project in 1240 using white lime. The tower measures 36 x 32.5 metres (118 x 106 ft.) and is 27.5 metres (90 ft.) tall. Access was via a wooden staircase on the south side that reached to the first floo...

    English monarchs used the tower as an occasional residence up to and including Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547), and many of them made important additions and improvements over the centuries. In the 12th century, the massive polygonal Bell Tower (c. 1190-1200) was added to the southwest corner of the curtain wall, a tidal moat was dug (50 metres / 160 ft. wide), and the wall was extended on the south side so that more money was spent on the complex than any other English castle except Dover. Henry III of England (r. 1216-1272) paid particular attention to the apartments within the castle and even established a small zoo (although King John, r. 1199-1216, may have been the first to keep exotic pets here). Leopards, lions, an elephant and even a polar bear were all resident at one time or another, usually diplomatic gifts, and the Tower Menagerie only closed down in 1835. Another curiosity of the 12th century was the future Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket(r. 1162-1170) doing a stint...

    One important function of the Tower was as a prison. A history of the inmates is like reading through a who's who of the history of England with many famous names ending up in the castle, some to be finally released and others to be executed - although only seven people were executed within the castle prior to the 20th century (most executions took place elsewhere such as Tyburn). Oddly, there were no purpose-built cells prior to 1695, rather, prisoners were put in whatever chambers were available. People were most often imprisoned for political or religious reasons and so they tended to be important people fallen from grace. The accommodation might not have been so bad but confessions were frequently extracted by torture. This was the case with Guy Fawkes of the failed Gunpowder Plotto blow up Parliament, whose shaky confession-statement signature indicates his 10-day torment following his capture on 5 November 1605. Torture was rare but when it was used, the preferred methods were...

    From the 16th century onwards the Tower was less of a royal residence - monarchs preferring Westminster - and became merely an armoury, barracks, storehouse (especially of gunpowder) and, as we have seen during the reigns of the ruthless Tudors, a (sometimes) terrible prison. The complex did continue to receive new buildings for various purposes, usually connected to the manufacture, testing, and storage of arms. These included the Grand Storehouse, completed in 1692. Indeed, the castle was becoming so packed with materials of warthat the buildings were literally bursting. The flooring of the top floor of the White Tower collapsed under the weight of 2000 barrels of gunpowder in 1691; fortunately, no explosion ensued. Despite its military redundancy as a fortress and the ravages of time, the castle would become one of the most glamorous weapons and treasure stores in history and, as time went on, it began to attract public visits for pleasure. In 1506 a garden was added. From the 16...

    The royal bodyguard, officially known as the Yeomen of the Guard (and by everyone else as the Beefeaters since at least 1700), were charged with guarding the Tower and its occupants from an unknown date sometime in the 15th century. The Yeoman Warders still patrol today - and act as tourist guides - wearing their striking red Tudor livery. As distinctive a presence on the grounds as the Beefeaters are the ravens. It is not known when these birds first arrived, but a legend goes that as long as they remain, the kingdom will endure. There was a very close call during the Second World War when bombing killed all but one of them. Fortunately, Gyp the sole survivor carried on the tradition, and they can still be seen today wandering across the lawns with that certain aloofness which comes with protected residency. Today the Tower hosts displays from the Royal Armouries and, of course, the Crown Jewels. The imperial regalia, various items of which are still used in coronation and state ce...

    • Mark Cartwright
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