16 Aug 05:
After crossing the Tower Bridge, I reached the Tower of London. Admission fees was a hefty 14.50 pounds per adult. Imagine if I were to convert to Singapore currency, it would be close to S$45. Anyway, since I did not wish to miss visiting a historic site like the Tower of London while I was in London, the "tourist mentality" in me convinced me that it was well worth it. It was, as I looked back.
The Tower seemed pretty well preserved, considering the fact that it has a long history of about 900 years. Throughout these long years, the Tower has served as a royal palace and fortress, prison and place of execution, royal mint, arsenal, menagerie and jewel house.
This site has good information about the Tower of London: http://www.camelotintl.com/tower_site/index.html.
Since I have not much clue about the Tower of London, I decided to take the free guided tour given by one of the Yeoman Warders. Here's some information that I have extracted from http://www.camelotintl.com/tower_site/warders/index.html for your convenience. The historical roles and duties of the Yeoman Warders were guard the prisoners and attend the gate. Today the Yeoman Warders are responsible for the security of the Tower and its visitors. They also conduct public guided tours in the Tower throughout the day. The only question on my mind was why were they called "Yeoman" Warders?
I waited for the next guided tour to start. I was lucky, I only have to wait for about 5 minutes. There was at least about 50 people, perhaps more, in the group that came for the guided tour that I had joined. I found myself temporarily shaken with a phobia for crowd but soon I got used to being in a crowd. I listened in as the Yeoman Warder who was our tour guide for that tour group spoke about the Tower of London and its history. I realised at times he had to shout in order to be heard. Perhaps using a loudspeaker would never have matched the Yeoman Warders' uniforms, so it was not used?
The Yeoman Warder who was our tour guide led to various points of the Tower of London. Let me share here with you some of the places that left some impression in me.
The White Tower is the oldest medieval building at the Tower of London. Built of rough-hewn Kentish ragstone edged with finely cut Caen stone at the corners and around the windows, the design was based on the castle palaces of the Norman dukes of the tenth century, and the work overseen by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester. The White Tower now contains displays from the Royal Armouries' collection.(See sources found below this post.)
I was impressed with the White Tower. I felt it brought me to medieval times. One does not need a time-machine in order to feel connected with the past.
Inside the White Tower. Part of the Royal Armouries' collection.
This river entrance that you see in the photo above is the water entrance that was built by Edward I between 1275 and 1279 to replace Henry III's watergate of the Bloody Tower. This river entrance is now often referred to as Traitors' Gate because of the number of prisoners accused of treason that are supposed to have passed through it.
The Yeoman Warder told us that Princess Elizabeth who later became Queen Elizabeth I, had came through this gate when she was brought to the Tower to be imprisoned and questioned. My first impression then was that politics at those times had a pretty dark side to it.
The Queen's House
The Queen's House.
Nearby the Queen's House.
The Queen's House is the home of the Resident Governor of the Tower of London and is not open to the public. As such, I could only use my eyes to look at it from the outside. Its present name, Queen's House, dates from Queen Victoria's reign and changes according to whether the sovereign is king or queen. I was attracted to the greens nearby the Queen's House.
The Yeoman Warder brought us to the scaffold site. This is the site where several famous people were executed. To name a few: William Lord Hastings, Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII's second wife convicted of adultery, beheaded in 1536), Catherine Howard (Henry VIII's fifth wife convicted of adultery too). I could feel a chill in my body when I was there.
You might wish to check out this site: http://www.camelotintl.com/tower_site/prisoners/index.html to read about the prisoners of the Tower.
- The Official Guide book - The Tower of London
More awaits. Stay tuned if you wish to read more about my visit to the Tower of London.