Anna in London – Tower of London
We were over in London for the World Travel Market at the beginning of November and I took the opportunity to head over to the Tower of London and do the Beefeater tour.
Unfortunately I chose a day when the weather wasn’t very good. It kept showering on and off so we were told that they were running the ‘wet weather program’. This meant that they took all 150 of us up to the chapel to sit down and give us the history the best they could despite the weather. Before we headed into the chapel the beefeater pointed out some key areas to us that he was going to be talking about.
Once we were all sat down the beefeater took us through the history of the place. He did a really wonderful job bringing the stories to life for us. One great bonus of the wet weather program is that we really got a lot of time to admire the chapel. It was quite an eerie experience. Three previous queens of England are buried under the altar of the chapel; Lady Jane Grey, Anne Boleyn & Catherine Howard and during renovations of the chapel the remains of over 2000 people were found buried underneath the building. So the history of the place is pretty grim.
We learnt a lot about the history of public executions at the tower and to be honest with you I didn’t really have the stomach for it. I felt a bit queasy. Approximately 30-35 thousand people would come to watch public beheadings at the Tower of London. If the person being executed could afford to, they would pay their executer to take their head off quickly in one chop. There were many stories of times when that wasn’t the case. After execution the head of the person would be boiled for preservation and displayed on the bridge to warn people entering the city of what would happen if they misbehaved. The last beheading in the tower was in 1747.
I sat in the front row of the chapel taking down notes like the good little history nerd that I am. I caught the eye of the beefeater during his speech and he gave me a funny look exclaiming that there ‘wouldn’t be a test at the end!’
It’s clear to see how passionate the beefeaters are about their home and the history of it. They were all so friendly and answered any of the many many questions I had for them patiently & with a smile.
After my tour I explored everything the Tower had to offer. I could of spent all they there if I had the time.
I went to see the crown jewels first since it was raining. The que wasn’t too bad and I had plenty of time to plot my heist as I waited to admire the artifacts. I then went up to explore the walls of the Tower and there was so much to see! Not only was the view beautiful! It was crazy to think that this used to be the tallest building in london but they had lots of information along the way about each tower and the history of it.
Some of the highlights for me were these modern pictures of army men at the tower mashed together with pictures of troops from the world wars. They also had several rooms open where prisoners would have been held and there were all kinds of drawings and writing left on the walls over the years. It’s crazy to think what these people would have been feeling during their time in the tower.
I was surprised to hear that over the years 40 people escaped the tower including its first ever prisoner Ranulf Flambard the Bishop of Durham who was found guilty of extortion and thrown into the tower before escaping by climbing out of the window using a rope that he had snuck into the tower in a flagon of wine. What a man!
I had a really great time at the tower and would highly recommend giving it a visit on your next trip to London!