The Tower of London – A Modern Landmark and Ancient Landmark
A visit to central London is not complete without a visit to The Tower of London. This landmark officially goes by the name “Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London“.
The Tower of London is something that could not be conceivably be done today, and wouldn’t be at all necessary, the building of a castle in the middle of the bustling city of London. How did it come to be here?
The Tower of London – Centuries of History In A Few Short Sentences
As mentioned, the Tower of London has been around a VERY LONG time! Originally, this castle began it’s impression on London in the year 1066. In that year the Norman conquest of England occurred. William the Conqueror built was is now known as the ‘White Tower’ in the year 1078.
This new ‘White Tower’ gave it’s name to the whole complex of buildings that followed, hence the name ‘Tower of London’. Clearly, after the Norman conquest of England, the new ruling elite wanted to stamp their authority on their new subjects, and, likewise, the subjects viewed this as a symbol of their new overlords, especially associating the Tower as a symbol of oppression.
In fact, the Tower of London, as it would become known, served as a prison for the majority of it’s history. From the year 1100 until only recently, in 1952, the Tower of London had an auxiliary role as a prison. We might be familiar with some of it’s last inmates, especially if we live in the UK. They were known as the Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie, symbols of London’s criminal past.
As mentioned, the Tower of London had an auxiliary role as a prison. What was it’s more prominent role? Despite it’s foreboding appearance, the Tower of London also served as a residence for the Royals, even being considered somewhat of a ‘grand palace’. In addition to it’s residential role, the complex has also served many roles, including:
- a treasury
- an armory
- a menagerie
- an office for public records
- home of the Royal mint,and
- very importantly…Home of the Crown Jewels of England
Yes, what is seen mostly by tourists to the Capital as a historical landmark, has also demonstrated throughout it’s history to be a versatile and extremely important contributor to the history of the authorities who have ruled the entire kingdom.
The Tower of London – The Crown Jewels
Probably the most famous inhabitant of the Tower of London is the collection known as the ‘Crown Jewels’. These jewels are actually a collection of 23,578 gemstones, a massive collection! They are as important now as they were in times past, Queen Elizabeth the 2nd still uses pieces from this collection.
Why is this collection so important? They represent the lengthy, and singularly important history of probably the world’s most famous monarchy. This historical record includes the 800-year-old Coronation Spoon, St. Edward’s Crown (worn during all crownings at Westminster Abbey) and the Imperial State Crown.
The Crown Jewels have been the theme of many stories and films about theft. What makes this such an enticing subject is that they are estimated to be worth around 3 billion pounds! Wow!….The interesting thing is that they are also NOT INSURED! Imagine the premiums on a 3 billion pound insurance policy…..
Visiting The Tower of London
This historical landmark is a must see attraction in the City of London. Despite it’s rich and lengthy history, the current exhibit features some surprising modern, creature comforts. Visitors can take advantage of Free Wi-Fi access, toilets, maps and Baby Changing Facilities.
The cost to visit this when you visit is Free for Members, Adults(over 16) the price is 22.70 pounds, and, for kids between 5 and 15 years of age, the price is 10.75 pounds.
The opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 5.30pm, Sunday and Monday 10am to 5.30pm
To get there, the nearest tube station, which is a 5 minute walk from the Tower, is, unsurprisingly, Tower Hill Station, which is on the District and Circle Lines.
If a crowded tube station is not your English cup of tea, travel by bus is possible. Here are the bus routes: 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1.
Well, that’s it….The Tower of London is a fantastic and historic place to visit! The memories you get may not last as long as the tower itself has existed, however, they will probably last the rest of your life! Enjoy!!!!