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The Tower of London

After the flower market, Neil and I then walked down to finally explore the Tower of London. It was a grey and drizzly morning. We started by doing a walk of the curtain wall around the entire site to get the lay of the land. We explored different towers and buildings as we came across them. We went and saw the Crown Jewels, ate lunch, and then just as were beginning to think about moving on, the sun came out and gave us the opportunity for a few bright, sunny pictures.

The White Tower, the central keep, is the innermost point of the site (pictured below). The Tower of London was built in the 1070s by William the Conqueror following his invasion and conquest of England. Nothing like the Tower had ever been seen in England before. It was a formidable demonstration of Norman power. The Tower was painted white in 1240 to make it seem more imposing (and thus definitely more memorable.) The top storey was added in 1490 and the onion-shaped turrets were added by Henry VIII.

Below is an artist’s rendition of what the Tower and its defences would have looked like when under construction.

Below, Neil is standing in front of the White Tower (the main keep) and the remains of a Roman wall.

The original design incorporated ruins of the Roman city walls, such as the one Neil is standing in front of. In the illustration below, you’ll see what that wall once looked like.

For fun, here is another angle of that wall, with Tower Bridge in the background.

Today’s entrance to the site is through the Byward Tower, a 13th century addition from Edward I who also added the outer curtain wall and moat.

The moat below was drained in 1845.

Some shots from the Tower grounds.

A crotchety yeoman of the guard.

Interestingly, the Tower wasn’t built as a prison (even though that would be one of its main functions) and there were no purpose-built prison cells. Prisoners were kept anywhere they would fit. In some of the buildings you can see prisoner graffiti carved into the walls, some of it very intricate.

Some prisoners were kept in conditions that were more comfortable than others, such as Sir Walter Ralegh, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. A reconstruction of his room is shown below. At the time of his imprisonment in 1592 and 1593, the “Bloody Tower” was simply known as the “Garden Tower.”

My favourite part of the Tower was the Medieval Palace. In St. Thomas’s Tower, there is a  re-construction of Edward I’s bedchamber as it might have looked like when he stayed there in 1294.

Did you know medieval people slept sitting up? They would crowd pillows all around them.

The Wakefield Tower features a replica throne, private audience chamber, and chapel.

The sun came out, and suddenly things were looking a lot more picturesque.

Traitor’s Gate.

I could get in trouble for this since you’re not allowed to take pictures of the Crown Jewels, but below is an exclusive shot of the Imperial State Crown. It doesn’t photograph that well. Trust me, it was much more beautiful in person.

And because I decided seeing a flower market and the Tower of London in one day was still not enough, we then moved onto the Museum of London.

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