There weren’t any heads on spikes…
The Tower of London is a must see when visiting the city. It is a historic site rich in stories, overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge. Once inside you have the option of freely wandering or joining a Yeoman Warder tour. Note: Don’t call them “beefeaters” or you will receive the side eye! We just managed to catch the start of a tour as we entered. Personally, I believe this is the best way to start your exploration of the tower site as though you may be a history buff, the inside man will always know something you never knew before.
The tour covers the general history of the tower, who lived and died there, and what the tower has been used for since royal times. A particular point of interest is the tower green where persons such as Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Catherine Howard lost their heads. The tour also includes a visit to the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula. This Chapel is only accessible through the tour and is where both Queen Anne and Queen Catherine, along with many other persons who were executed at the time are buried.
The Tower site is also well-known for the Crown Jewels exhibit. Whilst inside you can study in great detail the crowns, jewels and coronation ornaments used by previous rulers as well as items worn by the current monarch Queen Elizabeth II. Patience is a necessity in this exhibit as there is guaranteed to be at least one school or tour group pushing to press their noses against the glass!
When exploring the area it is also a good idea to keep a watchful eye out for the tower ravens. These ominous birds will bite you if provoked so best be warned.
The Tower of London also houses many Tudor style homes currently in use by tower employees as well as the Queen if she ever wants to visit…
Another point I’ll add is to not get in the way of the guards. They may have funny looking hats but they have a job to do so be respectful and give them space…like in the photo below during the Changing of the Guard.
The central ‘White Tower’ was built by William the Conqueror. The tower, once living quarters for William the Conqueror, now houses a series of historical artefacts, including military attire worn by knights and palace guards of the past. Access to this tower is dependent on your ability to deal with worn pathways and old winding staircases…yes very old timey and fun but also kind of a trip hazard at points so be careful.
Exploring the Tower of London is a spectacular experience. It is a site that has had a large scale influence on the course of English history and has been the home (or prison) of many Royal Family members, as well as a military training ground and now a large scale walk-through museum. The views are impressive, the ravens are scary and the stair cases are rather tight. Give it a go if you ever visit London….and don’t lose your head!