HOME

TheInfoList




The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic
castle A castle is a type of structure built during the predominantly by the or royalty and by . Scholars debate the scope of the word ''castle'', but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble. This is distinct ...

castle
on the north bank of the
River Thames The River Thames ( ), known alternatively in parts as the River Isis, is a river that flows through southern England Southern England, or the South of England, also known as the South, is an area of England consisting of the southernmos ...
in
central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the Capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the ...
. It lies within the
London Borough of Tower Hamlets The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is a covering much of the traditional . It was formed in 1965 from the merger of the former of , , and . 'Tower Hamlets' was originally an alternative name for the historic ; the area of south-east , focus ...
, which is separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the
City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It c ...

City of London
by the open space known as
Tower Hill Tower Hill is infamous for the public execution of high status prisoners from the late 14th to the mid 18th century. The execution site on the higher ground north-west of the Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty' ...
. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Normans, Duchy of Brittany, Bretons, County of Flanders, Flemish, and men from other Kingdom of France, French ...
. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by
William the Conqueror William I (c. 1028Bates ''William the Conqueror'' p. 33 – 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identi ...

William the Conqueror
in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was also used as a prison from 1100 (
Ranulf Flambard Ranulf is a masculine given name in the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, le ...
) until 1952 (
Kray twinsKray or krai may refer to: *Krai A krai or kray (; russian: край, , ''kraya'') is one of the types of federal subjects of modern Russia, and was a type of geographical administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitAr ...
), although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a
moat A moat is a deep, broad ditch, either dry or filled with water, that is dug and surrounds a castle A castle is a type of structure built during the predominantly by the or royalty and by . Scholars debate the scope of the word ''castl ...

moat
. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under kings
Richard I Richard I (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was King of England from 1189 until his death in 1199. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy In the Middle Ages, the Duke of Normandy was the ruler of the Duchy of Normandy in north-western Kin ...
,
Henry IIIHenry III may refer to: * Henry III, Duke of Bavaria (940–989) * Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor (1017–1056) * Henry III, Count of Louvain (died 1095) * Henry III, Count of Luxembourg (died 1096) * Henry III, Duke of Carinthia (1050–1122) * Henr ...

Henry III
, and
Edward I Edward I (17/18 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots ( la, Malleus Scotorum), was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England ...

Edward I
in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site. The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times, and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a
treasury A treasury is either *A government department Ministry or department, also less commonly used secretariat, office, or directorate are designations used by a first-level executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive ( ...

treasury
, a
menagerie menagerie during the reign of Louis XIV , house = Bourbon , father = Louis XIII of France , mother = Anne of Austria , birth_date = , birth_place = Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Fran ...

menagerie
, the home of the
Royal Mint The Royal Mint is a government-owned Mint (facility), mint that produces coins for the United Kingdom. Operating under the legal name ''The Royal Mint Limited'', the mint is a limited company that is wholly owned by HM Treasury, Her Majesty's T ...
, a
public record office The Public Record Office (abbreviated as PRO, pronounced as three letters and referred to as ''the'' PRO), Chancery Lane Chancery Lane is a one-way street situated in the Wards of the City of London, ward of Farringdon Without in the C ...
, and the home of the
Crown Jewels of England '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the standard type of Silla's Crown. It was excavated by Swedish Crown Prin ...
. From the early 14th century until the reign of
Charles II
Charles II
in the 17th century, a procession would be led from the Tower to
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes ...

Westminster Abbey
on the coronation of a monarch. In the absence of the monarch, the
Constable of the Tower The Constable of the Tower is the most senior appointment at the Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in cen ...
is in charge of the castle. This was a powerful and trusted position in the medieval period. In the late 15th century, the
Princes in the Tower The Princes in the Tower refers to the apparent murder in England in the 1480s of the deposed King Edward V of England Edward V (2 November 1470)R. F. Walker, "Princes in the Tower", in S. H. Steinberg et al, ''A New Dictionary of British ...
were housed at the castle when they mysteriously disappeared, presumed murdered. Under the
Tudors The House of Tudor was an English royal house of Welsh origin, descended from the Tudors of Penmynydd. Tudor monarchs ruled the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July ...
, the Tower became used less as a royal residence, and despite attempts to refortify and repair the castle, its defences lagged behind developments to deal with artillery. The zenith of the castle's use as a prison was the 16th and 17th centuries, when many figures who had fallen into disgrace, such as
Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_an ...

Elizabeth I
before she became queen, Sir
Walter Raleigh Sir Walter Raleigh (; – 29 October 1618), also spelled Ralegh, was an English statesman, soldier, writer and explorer. One of the most notable figures of the Elizabethan era, he played a leading part in English colonisation of North America, ...

Walter Raleigh
, and
Elizabeth Throckmorton
Elizabeth Throckmorton
, were held within its walls. This use has led to the phrase " sent to the Tower". Despite its enduring reputation as a place of torture and death, popularised by 16th-century religious propagandists and 19th-century writers, only seven people were executed within the Tower before the World Wars of the 20th century. Executions were more commonly held on the notorious
Tower Hill Tower Hill is infamous for the public execution of high status prisoners from the late 14th to the mid 18th century. The execution site on the higher ground north-west of the Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty' ...
to the north of the castle, with 112 occurring there over a 400-year period. In the latter half of the 19th century, institutions such as the Royal Mint moved out of the castle to other locations, leaving many buildings empty.
Anthony Salvin Anthony Salvin (17 October 1799 – 17 December 1881) was an English architect An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with th ...
and John Taylor took the opportunity to restore the Tower to what was felt to be its medieval appearance, clearing out many of the vacant post-medieval structures. In the
First First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill ...
and
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
s, the Tower was again used as a prison and witnessed the executions of 12 men for espionage. After the Second World War, damage caused during
the Blitz The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom in 1940 and 1941, during the . The term was first used by the British press and originated from the term , the German word for 'lightning war'. The Germans conducted mass ai ...
was repaired, and the castle reopened to the public. Today, the Tower of London is one of the country's most popular tourist attractions. Under the ceremonial charge of the Constable of the Tower, and operated by the
Resident Governor of the Tower of London and Keeper of the Jewel HouseThe Resident Governor of the Tower of London and Keeper of the Jewel House is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a his ...
, the property is cared for by the charity
Historic Royal Palaces Historic Royal Palaces is an independent charity that manages some of the United Kingdom's unoccupied royal palaces. These are: * Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of Lond ...
and is protected as a
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for h ...
.


Architecture


Layout

The Tower was oriented with its strongest and most impressive defences overlooking
Saxon The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languag ...
London, which archaeologist
Alan Vince Dr. Alan George Vince (30 March 1952 – 23 February 2009) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencie ...
suggests was deliberate. It would have visually dominated the surrounding area and stood out to traffic on the River Thames. The castle is made up of three " wards", or enclosures. The innermost ward contains the White Tower and is the earliest phase of the castle. Encircling it to the north, east, and west is the inner ward, built during the reign of
Richard I Richard I (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was King of England from 1189 until his death in 1199. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy In the Middle Ages, the Duke of Normandy was the ruler of the Duchy of Normandy in north-western Kin ...

Richard I
(1189–1199). Finally, there is the outer ward which encompasses the castle and was built under
Edward I Edward I (17/18 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots ( la, Malleus Scotorum), was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England ...

Edward I
. Although there were several phases of expansion after William the Conqueror founded the Tower of London, the general layout has remained the same since Edward I completed his rebuild in 1285. The castle encloses an area of almost with a further around the Tower of London constituting the Tower Liberties – land under the direct influence of the castle and cleared for military reasons. The precursor of the Liberties was laid out in the 13th century when
Henry IIIHenry III may refer to: * Henry III, Duke of Bavaria (940–989) * Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor (1017–1056) * Henry III, Count of Louvain (died 1095) * Henry III, Count of Luxembourg (died 1096) * Henry III, Duke of Carinthia (1050–1122) * Henr ...

Henry III
ordered that a strip of land adjacent to the castle be kept clear. Despite popular fiction, the Tower of London never had a permanent torture chamber, although the basement of the White Tower housed a rack in later periods. Tower
Wharf A wharf, quay (, also ), or staith(e) is a structure on the shore of a harbour A harbor (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varie ...

Wharf
was built on the bank of the Thames under Edward I and was expanded to its current size during the reign of
Richard II Richard II (6 January 1367 – c. 14 February 1400), also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England This list of kings and queens of the begins with , who initially ruled , one of the which later made up modern England. Al ...

Richard II
(1377–1399).


White Tower

The White Tower is a
keep A keep (from the Middle English ''kype'') is a type of fortified tower A fortified tower (also defensive tower or castle tower or, in context, just tower) is one of the defensive structures used in fortification A fortification is a mili ...

keep
(also known as a donjon), which was often the strongest structure in a medieval castle, and contained lodgings suitable for the lord – in this case, the king or his representative. According to military historian Allen Brown, "The great tower hite Towerwas also, by virtue of its strength, majesty and lordly accommodation, the donjon ''par excellence''". As one of the largest keeps in the
Christian world Christendom historically refers to the "Christian world": Christian state A Christian state is a country that recognizes a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on th ...
, the White Tower has been described as "the most complete eleventh-century palace in Europe". The White Tower, not including its projecting corner towers, measures at the base, and is high at the southern battlements. The structure was originally three storeys high, comprising a basement floor, an entrance level, and an upper floor. The entrance, as is usual in
Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of Normandy, descended from ...
keeps, was above ground, in this case on the south face, and accessed via a wooden staircase which could be removed in the event of an attack. It was probably during
Henry II Henry II may refer to: Kings *Henry II of England (1133–89), reigned from 1154 *Henry II of Jerusalem and Cyprus (1271–1324), reigned from 1285; king of Jerusalem in name only from 1291 *Henry II of Castile (1334–79), reigned 1366–67 and ...

Henry II
's reign (1154–1189) that a forebuilding was added to the south side of the tower to provide extra defences to the entrance, but it has not survived. Each floor was divided into three chambers, the largest in the west, a smaller room in the north-east, and the chapel taking up the entrance and upper floors of the south-east. At the western corners of the building are square towers, while to the north-east a round tower houses a spiral staircase. At the south-east corner there is a larger semi-circular projection which accommodates the
apse In architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in Paris – 1734. Archi ...

apse
of the chapel. As the building was intended to be a comfortable residence as well as a stronghold, latrines were built into the walls, and four fireplaces provided warmth. The main building material is
Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Robert ...

Kent
ish rag-stone, although some local
mudstone Mudstone, a type of mudrock Mudrocks are a class of fine-grained Granularity (also called graininess), the condition of existing in granular material, granules or Grain, grains, refers to the extent to which a material or system is composed ...

mudstone
was also used.
Caen stone 300px, Church of Saint-Pierre, Caen. The restoration of the chevet shows the original colour of the stone.">chevet.html" ;"title="Church of Saint-Pierre, Caen. The restoration of the chevet">Church of Saint-Pierre, Caen. The restoration of the che ...
was imported from northern France to provide details in the Tower's facing, although little of the original material survives as it was replaced with Portland stone in the 17th and 18th centuries. As most of the Tower's windows were enlarged in the 18th century, only two original – albeit restored – examples remain, in the south wall at the gallery level. The tower was terraced into the side of a mound, so the northern side of the basement is partially below ground level. As was typical of most keeps, the bottom floor was an
undercroft An undercroft is traditionally a cellar or storage room, often brick-lined and vaulted, and used for storage in buildings since medieval times. In modern usage, an undercroft is generally a ground (street-level) area which is relatively open ...
used for storage. One of the rooms contained a well. Although the layout has remained the same since the tower's construction, the interior of the basement dates mostly from the 18th century when the floor was lowered and the pre-existing timber vaults were replaced with brick counterparts. The basement is lit through small slits. The entrance floor was probably intended for the use of the
Constable of the Tower The Constable of the Tower is the most senior appointment at the Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in cen ...
,
Lieutenant of the Tower of London The Lieutenant of the Tower of London serves directly under the Constable of the Tower. The office has been appointed at least since the 13th century. There were formerly many privileges, immunities and perquisites attached to the office. Like the ...
and other important officials. The south entrance was blocked during the 17th century, and not reopened until 1973. Those heading to the upper floor had to pass through a smaller chamber to the east, also connected to the entrance floor. The
crypt A crypt (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in r ...

crypt
of St John's Chapel occupied the south-east corner and was accessible only from the eastern chamber. There is a recess in the north wall of the crypt; according to Geoffrey Parnell, Keeper of the Tower History at the Royal Armouries, "the windowless form and restricted access, suggest that it was designed as a strong-room for safekeeping of royal treasures and important documents". The upper floor contained a grand hall in the west and residential chamber in the eastboth originally open to the roof and surrounded by a gallery built into the walland St John's Chapel in the south-east. The top floor was added in the 15th century, along with the present roof. St John's Chapel was not part of the White Tower's original design, as the apsidal projection was built after the basement walls. Due to changes in function and design since the tower's construction, except for the chapel little is left of the original interior. The chapel's current bare and unadorned appearance is reminiscent of how it would have been in the Norman period. In the 13th century, during Henry III's reign, the chapel was decorated with such ornamentation as a gold-painted cross, and
stained glass The term stained glass refers to coloured glass as a material and to works created from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant religious buildings ...

stained glass
windows that depicted the
Virgin Mary According to the gospels Gospel originally meant the Christian message, but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which the message was set out; in this sense a gospel can be defined as a loose-knit, episodic narrat ...

Virgin Mary
and the
Holy Trinity The Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian ...

Holy Trinity
.


Innermost ward

The innermost ward encloses an area immediately south of the White Tower, stretching to what was once the edge of the River Thames. As was the case at other castles, such as the 11th-century
Hen Domen Hen Domen Welsh, meaning "old mound", is the site of a medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past ev ...
, the innermost ward was probably filled with timber buildings from the Tower's foundation. Exactly when the royal lodgings began to encroach from the White Tower into the innermost ward is uncertain, although it had happened by the 1170s. The lodgings were renovated and elaborated during the 1220s and 1230s, becoming comparable with other palatial residences such as
Windsor Castle Windsor Castle is a at in the English county of . It is strongly associated with the and succeeding , and embodies almost a millennium of . The original castle was built in the 11th century after the by . Since the time of (who re ...

Windsor Castle
. Construction of Wakefield and Lanthorn Towers – located at the corners of the innermost ward's wall along the river – began around 1220. They probably served as private residences for the queen and king respectively. The earliest evidence for how the royal chambers were decorated comes from Henry III's reign: the queen's chamber was whitewashed, and painted with flowers and imitation stonework. A
great hall #REDIRECTGreat hall#REDIRECTGreat hall A great hall is the main room of a royal palace, nobleman's castle or a large manor house or hall house in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted fr ...

great hall
existed in the south of the ward, between the two towers. It was similar to, although slightly smaller than, that also built by Henry III at
Winchester Castle Winchester Castle is a medieval building in Winchester, Hampshire, England. It was founded in 1067. Only the Great Hall still stands; it houses a museum of the history of Winchester. History Early history Around AD70 the Romans constructed a ...

Winchester Castle
. Near Wakefield Tower was a postern gate which allowed private access to the king's apartments. The innermost ward was originally surrounded by a protective ditch, which had been filled in by the 1220s. Around this time, a kitchen was built in the ward. Between 1666 and 1676, the innermost ward was transformed and the palace buildings removed. The area around the White Tower was cleared so that anyone approaching would have to cross open ground. The Jewel House was demolished, and the
Crown Jewels Crown jewels are the objects of and in the of a current or former . They are often used for the of a and a few other ceremonial occasions. A monarch may often be shown wearing them in portraits, as they symbolize the power and continuity o ...
moved to Martin Tower.


Inner ward

The inner ward was created during Richard the Lionheart's reign, when a moat was dug to the west of the innermost ward, effectively doubling the castle's size. Henry III created the ward's east and north walls, and the ward's dimensions remain to this day. Most of Henry's work survives, and only two of the nine towers he constructed have been completely rebuilt. Between the Wakefield and Lanthorn Towers, the innermost ward's wall also serves as a
curtain wall Curtain wall may refer to: * Curtain wall (architecture), the outer skin of a modern building * Curtain wall (fortification), the outer wall of a castle or defensive wall between two bastions Castles in London Defunct prisons in London Fortifications of London History museums in London Local museums in London Army museums in London Museums in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Museums on the River Thames National government buildings in London Historic Royal Palaces Royal residences in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Buildings and structures completed in 1078 Towers completed in the 11th century Towers in London Gothic architecture in England Grade I listed buildings in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Grade I listed castles Defence of London Honourable Artillery Company Reportedly haunted locations in London Regimental museums in London Royal Regiment of Fusiliers William the Conqueror Buildings and structures on the River Thames Tourist attractions in London World Heritage Sites in London