The guide book says, “In the early 1070’s, William the Conqueror began to build a massive stone tower at the center of his London fortress. Nothing like it had ever been seen in England before. The ruthless William intended his mighty ‘White Tower’ not only to dominate the skyline, but also the hearts and minds of the subjugated Londoners. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams; nearly a thousand years later the Tower of London still holds us in its thrall.” Later, King Edward I order the construction of the western entrance. Today, the Tower complex is the home for the Crown Jewels.
Some of the most famous executions in the history of England took place at the private scaffold site on Tower Green. Ten people were beheaded at this spot, which is marked by a simple but elegant memorial. Included in this group are Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry Vlll, who was in her 30’s; Catherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife, barely in her 20’s; and Lady Jane Grey, queen for nine days only 16, the innocent pawn in a failed military coup.
Houses near the Traitor’s Gate and the Queen’s House.
Sir Walter Ralegh’s room at the tower.
Prisoner’s graffiti in the Beauchamp Tower, carved mainly between the 16th and 17th centuries.
The White Tower completed by 1100. It once doubled as a palace and a fortress.
A garden window that looks out to the Tower Green.
A friendly but fierce looking Gargoyle watches over those who pass under the Waterloo Block.
A Yeoman Warder talks with a visitor. About five or six times a month, a Warder takes part in the Ceremony of the Keys—the official ‘locking up’ of the Tower, which has been carried out every night for over 700 years. One Warder explained, “I turn the massive key in the outer door, and push the bolt home; it makes a most satisfying ‘clunk.’ Then we have the historic exchange, you can hear the words echoing down Water Lane as they have done for centuries, with only the names of the monarch changing:
“The sentry cries out, ‘Halt, who comes there?’
“The Yeoman Warder replies, ‘The keys.’ ‘Whose keys?’ is the call. ‘Queen Elizabeth’s keys.’ is the reply. ‘Pass then, all’s well.’ Then we hand the key to the Resident Governor and the Chief Yeoman Warder says, ‘God Praise Queen Elizabeth.’ We all lift our bonnets and reply, ‘Amen.’ Then the Last Post sounds into the silence, and the ceremony is over for another night.”
A home for the ravens (the cages in the foreground). “Legend has it that Charles ll was told that if the ravens left the Tower, the kingdom and the fortress would fall.”