On a chilly winter morning, we decided to head into London and visit the Tower of London; an iconic landmark in the capital that I had somehow never visited. Once a prison, known as a place of torture and death, the Tower now holds armoury and trinkets from the Royal history as well as the Crown Jewels and a wealth of history and tales. Its history goes back to 1066, when William the Conqueror establishes the Tower to hold hostile Londoners although the tower wasn’t officially a prison until 1101.
This is what London is about, reams of history that can fascinate anyone who takes the time to learn. Ok, I sound like I am lecturing (sorry!) but I am all for wandering around Museums and skim reading the information and the ancient spiralled staircases and stone walls are enchanting enough to just admire without reading the factual signs around the place but I would recommend a read.
The Tower of London is a favourite for many when visiting London, especially if you are looking for things to do in London with kids.
On arrival we purchased our tickets and used the buy 1, get 1 free offer available from train stations if you get the train into London. If you are travelling into London from anywhere on the outskirts or further, you can pick up a Days Out Brochure which includes deals, vouchers and Buy 1 get 1 free tickets in the back of the brochure. Gate prices for the Tower of London are £25 so the vouchers help!
Once we got inside the Tower, we started exploring the different areas:
- The White Tower
In the centre of the maze of walls and pathways, lies the White Tower, an icon of London and home to the prestigious Crown Jewels. You can also see the Royal Armoury collection and a Line of Kings exhibition inside the White Tower. A Block and Axe can be found on the top floor and is believed to have been used in the last beheading on Tower Hill in 1747.
- The Crown Jewels
Still used by the Queen herself, the Crown Jewels and its beautiful diamonds can be visited whilst exploring the White Tower in the Tower of London. We also saw the Sovereign’s Sceptre, Coronation spoon, St Edward’s Crown, the Imperial State Crown and the Crown of the Queen’s Mother.
- Yeoman Warder tour
Also known as Beefeaters, these guards of the tower offer 60 minute tours (every 30 minutes approx). If you have the time, these tours are probably the best way to hear tales of the tower. The Warders today are required to have served at least 22 years (!!) in the armed forces and are always happy to answer questions and get a photograph with visitors.
- Torture at The Tower
At the bottom of Wakefield’s Tower, we came across an exhibition about the torture used on prisoners along with seeing replicas of the torture instruments used.
- Medieval Palace
We visited the Medieval Palace not quite sure of what to expect. Inside is a recreation of 13th century life for Henry III and his son Edward I. The Lanthorn Tower includes rare objects dating back to the 1300’s and we also saw a recreation of Edward’s Bed Chamber.
- Tower Green
Inside the grounds, you can also see Tower Green; the execution site and note memorial to the people who were killed here. Famous executions on or near Tower Green include anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Margaret Pole and Lady Jane Grey (who was 16 years old!).
- Wall Walk
The Tower of London is surrounded and includes a huge stone wall that is open to explore and walk around. You get a great view of the Thames at points along this walk so make sure you have energy to do it!
You can spend an hour or 5 exploring the Tower of London and we found it took a good 2 hours to visit the whole thing and spot an infamous raven or two. The Tower of London is just a short walk from Tower Bridge, which is also worth a visit. You can walk across the Bridge, photograph it from either side or even go inside it to see the Exhibition.
I hope this blog has helped you with your next visit to London, any questions then pop them in the comments below! Don’t forget to check out our mini-guide to London and our top free things to do in London!