The Tower of London, situated on the banks of the mighty River Thames, is also known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress. It is an ancient castle that has featured in the English annals of history since as far back as the second century of our Common Era (CE).
Over the years, the Tower of London has been used as a public records office, a mint, a treasury, the home of the Crown Jewels and even a menagerie for wild animals.
The Tower Of London.
When William the Conqueror (the Duke of Normandy) invaded England in October 1066, he established a number of large castles. Some of London was being defended by Saxon troops, of Germanic origin, and William the Conqueror was forced to strategise his efforts to take over completely. Once he had conquered many other areas, those in London were sufficiently intimidated to yield the area to him without much of a battle. From the time he arrived, he established more than 36 castles in just 21 years. These buildings served many purposes, including being homes and administrative centres.
The Tower of London was built from stone along the north bank of the River Thames and served to awe anyone that saw it – whether residents or would-be attackers.
It overlooked the parts of London run by the Saxons, with the intention of intimidating these ones even more. The Tower of London was built comprising three enclosures (also known as wards). The innermost enclosure contains the White Tower. The next war, the inner ward, was built between 1189 and 1199.
The outer ward includes the actual castle. The building and rebuilding of the Tower of London was completed in 1285, under the rulership of Edward I. Since then, the structure has remained relatively unchanged, giving visitors a very accurate, historical experience.
Over the course of many years, the Tower of London was used for a number of different purposes. These include: •Henry III often used the tower as the venue in which to hold court. •Henry III also held parliament there in 1236 and 1261. •600 Jews were charged of coin clipping and were imprisoned at the Tower of London in 1278. •In the early part of the 14th century, the Privy Wardrobe was founded and based at the Tower of London. •The 1500’s saw many more people imprisoned at the Tower. During the World Wars of the 20th century, it was again used as a prison. •The Crown Jewels are stored at the Tower of London (in the Waterloo Barracks). •In 1251, the Tower became used as a menagerie for the King’s many exotic and dangerous animals. These included a polar bear, elephant, lions and leopards. Tourists were encouraged to come and see this menagerie and their entry fee covered the cost of a dog or cat, which would be fed to the lions. •Several traditional ceremonies take place at the Tower of London, including the Ceremony of the Keys, The Beating of the Bounds and the Ceremony of Lilies and Roses.
Today, the Tower of London remains one of England’s primary tourist attractions, as it has been since Elizabethan times. It is under the administration and management of Historic Royal Palaces, which is an independent charity. It has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. Well over 2 million people visit the Tower of London every year.