I like a bit of bloody history. Not that I would ever have wanted to be hung, drawn and quartered, or put in the stocks, but I find it really interesting how our ancestors lived, behaved and dealt with conflicts.
The Tower of London is steeped in history, more that I could write here, or that you would probably want to read, but it has a dark and twisted past.
It’s a really impressive site, based on the banks of the Thames, the white stone fortress, built on the vantage point in order to protect London.
The first thing I would recommend going is taking a walk around the battlements, this is basically walking the perimeter of the tower complex, through the subsequent towers on the outskirts, giving amazing views of London and of insight in to what happened and how. You can see age old graffiti from imprisoned Catholics who were deemed as threats to the Protestant monarchy. You can also see living quarters fit for the king (or queen).
You can also see some really intriguing wrought iron statues of soldiers.
Once you have concluded your walk around the battlements, you will notice that there are structures of animals which are not native to England dotted around the complex. These at one time or another had been kept as pets within the towers. Some of the animals which were kept there included, a polar bear (which by all accounts used to fish in the Thames, but it was kept on a leash), a zebra, monkeys (which played havoc with visitors), lions, tigers, ostriches, snakes and an elephant. This was well before the animal cruelty act and sadly the upkeep of these animals were little known, so monkeys were allowed to smoke pipes and encouraged to mimic human behaviour, tiger cubs were fed soup in an effort to keep them tame and one ostrich died after eating a nail as it was believe that ostriches could eat anything and survive.
From here you can go and view the crowns through the ages, sadly no photography is allowed in this area, but this really shows the extravagance of the English monarchy. It’s interesting to see the different crowns and what is used at the coronation of a new monarch.
You can also go in and see the regiment of fusiliers which shows the medals of past generals, see what the iron cross looks like and what the medals were awarded for.
You can’t visit the Tower of London without seeing the ravens. It is believed that if the ravens ever leave the towers the monarchy will fall. Believed to be Charles II who insisted on having captive ravens at the site, there must now always be a minimum of 6 ravens, but there are currently 7. The birds are quite intimidating with a wing span up to 1.5 metres and a make a daunting cackling noise. They are feed on raw meat (170kg per day) and biscuits soaked in blood. Visitors are warned not to get too close. There is also a raven cemetery on site, to show the respect that is had for these dark birds.
The white tower holds the armoury. Different armour and weapons can be seen in the main halls, and going to the basement will show cannons, guns and swords. You can also see some amazing views of London from this central tower.
I really did want to see the tower of blood…sadly it was closed for essential maintenance, not sure who they have on the rack right now, but clearly it’s had some over use. I find the torture and prisoners at the towers the most interesting part, but looks like I will have to share that with you another day. I can however show you traitors gate.
If you live near London or you’re planning a visit, this is a fairly relaxing day with some beautiful, some terrifying and some fun sights. I would certainly advise having a whole day for this place as there is so much to explore.