Tower of London, of course in London !!

I have been here several times, more on business than pleasure and we all love it. I guess we do not mind big cities… This is London, and one of the best for us has been the Tower of London. In fact upon arriving this was the first monument we visited!I like to update this older post with new text and links using older pictures ; hope you enjoy it as I.

First, my business trips are done by airplane but the personal trips were done by car and it is super , love to drive in big cities too even on the wrong side of the road lol!  We came and asked around and was told to go to the corner of Lillie rd and Seagraves rd where there was an Avis rental car park but for a fee they let you park, well it was word of mouth and it works, we parked there twice more and at half prices ,recall 16£ per day cash.  This is close to West Brompton tube Southern line you might want to check it out.  Althought, we stayed in apartment closer to Earls Court easy walking distance to get back home. The London inner ring road (beltway of London) with the local routes A406 and A205 (mine) and the motorways M25 getting around the city best to the city center of Inner London Oh yes to find your way driving, this is a tool I use rather nicely, good driving skills are needed London Traffic webpage: https://www.londontraffic.org/

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Let me tell you about our favorite sightseeing in London. Tower of London; wonderful places of history old and new. Visit the White Tower, and the Crown jewels section for sure.  The Tower of London is a historic fortress located on the north bank of the River Thames in London next to the tower bridge. The tower is located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets east of the City of London in a space called Tower Hill. Its construction began towards the end of the year 1066 as part of the Norman (French) conquest of England. The White Tower, which gave its name to the entire castle, was built on the order of William the Conqueror in 1078. It also served as Grand Palace and Royal residence. As a whole, the tower is a complex composed of several buildings surrounded by two concentric defensive walls and a moat.

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The tower consists of three ramparts. The inner rampart protects the white tower and represents the first phase of the castle’s construction. The intermediate rampart which encircled it ,and was built during the reign of King Richard I to ensure the security of the Kingdom during the reign of king Henry III, the castle was strengthened and extended, with among other things the construction of the Wakefield tower, the Lantern tower and a curtain wall surmounted by nine towers and surrounded by moats. Finally, a third rampart was built under king Edward I. The king only rarely stayed at the castle. A prison is installed there as well as a division of the Hotel Royal of the Treasury. The fortress is also used to store important goods and documents.

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The White Tower is a dungeon, which was often the strongest structure of a medieval castle and the one that housed the dwellings of the Lord, in this case the king and his representatives. The White tower was also, by its strength, its majesty and its grandiose dwellings, the dungeon by excellence. As one of the largest dungeons in Christendom the White Tower has been described as the most complete 11C palace in Europe. The White Tower, without taking into account its corner towers, measures 36 × 32 meters at its base and rises to a height of 27 meters at the level of the south rampart. The building initially consisted of three floors: a basement, an entry level and a higher level. The entrance, as was the norm in the Norman dungeons, was above ground level. It was  equipped with a wooden staircase that could be removed in the event of an attack. From the stone of Caen was imported from France to form details on the coating of the tower but much of it was replaced by Portland stone in the 17-18C. Since most of the windows in the tower were enlarged in the 18C, there are only two originals, albeit restored on the south side.

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The crypt of the Saint John Chapel occupied one corner, and was accessible only from the Oriental room. The upper level housed a large hall ,and a residential room, both initially open on the roof and surrounded by a gallery built in the wall, as well as the St John’s Chapel. A fourth level was added in the 15C as is the current roof.

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The inner rampart delineates just by the White Tower and extends to what was the shore of the Thames river. The construction of the Wakefield and Lanthorn Towers, located at the corners of the inner rampart along the Thams river began around 1220 a gate located near the Wakefield Tower allowed private access to the King’s apartments. The intermediate rampart was created during the reign of king Richard the Lion Heart when a clod was dug in the inner rampart which allowed to double the size of the castle. The main entrance to the intermediate rampart would have been a body of guards probably in what is presently the Beauchamp tower; The Beauchamp tower built in the 13C marked the first use on a large scale of the brick in Britain since the departure of the Romans in the 5C. The Beauchamp Tower is one of the thirteen towers located on the rampart.

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The Salt Tower initially gave on the Thames river. Archers settled there to protect the tower and castle. The Broken Arrow Tower takes its name from the spear-iron symbol stamped on the property belonging to the King. From 1669 to 1841, the tower houses the Crown jewels. It was then known as the Jewel Tower. A third rampart was built under king Edward I. A bastion called Legge’s Mount was built at the corner of the castle and a second bastion, Brass Mount, was later added to another corner. As a result of the addition of this new enclosure, the former main entrance to the Tower of London was blocked and a new entrance was created at the corner of the outer rampart. In this rampart, it was built the St Thomas Tower between 1275 and 1279; subsequently called Traitors’s Gate, it replaced the bloody Tower as access door from the Thames river. From 1560, the Royal Mint was installed in a building backed by the exterior wall near the Salt Tower. Between 1348 and 1355, a second access gate on the river, the Cradle Tower, was added to the east of the St Thomas ‘ Tower for the exclusive use of the King.

A bit of condense history I like.

After his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, and vassal to the king of France spent the remainder of the year fortifying key positions to secure his power.  The fortification which eventually became the Tower of London was built on the southeast corner of the ancient Roman walls of the city and were used to serve as prefabricated bases; In addition the Thames river provided an additional defense to the south. Almost all the first Norman castles were built of wood but at the end of the 11C some of them, including the Tower of London, were renovated with stone. The work on the White Tower, which gave it its name, would have started in 1078 but the exact date is uncertain. The castle probably retained its form established from 1100 until the reign of king Richard I ,the Lion Heart.  The castle  present form has hardly evolved since. From 1238, the castle was enlarged on most sides.

The beginning of the Tudor period marked the decline of the Tower of London as a royal residence.   From 1547, the Tower of London was only used as a royal residence when its historical and political symbolism was deemed useful; For example, Edward VI, Marie I, and Élisabeth I stayed briefly before their coronation. The 16-17C marked the culmination of the tower as a center of internment, and many religious and political opponents were detained there. Among the people executed at the tower are Anne Boleyn. So when Walter Raleigh was held in the tower, his cell was modified to accommodate his family whose son was born there in 1605. The executions were usually carried out at tower Hill rather than in the Tower of London itself and 112 people were there executed in over 400 years. Before the 20C, there were seven executions carried out within the castle in the Green Tower. This was reserved for prisoners whose public execution was deemed to be dangerous.

The tradition of harboring the crown jewels in the tower probably dates back to the reign of king Henry III. In 1649, during the first English revolution, the contents of the Jewel House were emptied of the royal properties. The metal objects were sent to the mint to be melted and reused, and the crowns were completely broken and disfigured. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, the only elements of the Coronation regalia were a 12C spoon and three ceremonial swords. The other objects had to be recreated. In 1669, the Jewel House was demolished and the crown jewels were moved to the Martin tower where they were exposed to the public.   Crown jewels are currently preserved in the Waterloo Barracks of the tower.

During WWI, eleven men were tried behind the walls and executed by a firing squad for espionage. During WWII, the tower was again used to detain prisoners of war. One of them was Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s representative, but only for four days in 1941. He was the last prisoner of state to be imprisoned , and the last execution in the tower was that of the German spy Josef Jakobs shot on 14 August 1941. The executions during the two world wars took place in a small field of shooting practice located near the exterior rampart which was demolished in 1969.

The Tower of London had become one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of UK. In 1984, the London subway/tube/metro station Tower Hill (Mark Lane before 1967) was opened north of the tower, bringing tourists and locals more closer to the Tower of London . The Tower is managed by a Recognized Association of Public Utility, the Historic Royal Palaces, which receives no assistance from the Government or the Crown and is funded by donations and admissions. A must to visit indeed.

The official Historic Royal Palaces management of the Tower of Londonhttps://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/

The London tourist office on the Tower of London :https://www.visitlondon.com/fr/que-faire-a-londres/endroit/22249-hm-tower-of-london

There you go folks, a wonderful spot to start your London sightseeing ,the Tower of London is a must and a first to go visit, me think. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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