The Tower of London

the tower 1November 11 is an interesting day to experience in London. While in the United States it is Veteran’s Day, in the UK and Commonwealth it is both Armistice Day and Remembrance Day. These holidays are observed to remember those who fought in England’s wars, primarily the Great War (WWI). Everyone wears a red poppy to commemorate fallen soldiers. 2014 was especially potent as it was the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.

via The Daily Mail
via The Daily Mail

My friend Maggie and I went to see the Tower of London on Remembrance Day, partly because they had a huge poppy display to mark the anniversary—one handcrafted and hand painted ceramic poppy for each British life lost in World War I. It was truly a memorable sight, and I’m so glad that I got to see it in person.

But while the display was wonderful to see, I was more excited about the Tower of London itself. I’ve wanted to see it ever since I read the Royal Diaries book about Elizabeth I. Needless to say, the tower is immense and impressive. Of course, it isn’t just one lone tower, despite the misleading name. The grounds have several buildings, all with thick walls that speak of fear of invasion. The tower is protected by Yeoman Warders (often called Beefeaters), who also give tours to visitors.

The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower, 1483 by Sir John Everett Millais, 1878

The tower was a direct result of the Norman conquest in 1066, and you can feel that sense of history as you stand in those buildings. Those walls have seen more kings, queens, traitors, and executions than you can possibly imagine, and the stats are staggering. The fated Anne Boleyn was imprisoned and executed there in 1536, and she wasn’t alone. 112 government sanctioned deaths were carried out on Tower Hill over a period of about 400 years. The place is also steeped in intrigue, thanks to stories like those of the princes in the tower.

But at the end of the day, the story of the tower isn’t necessarily a bloody one. It is essentially a fortress and castle that played an important role during British history, and even now it houses the priceless crown jewels of the monarchy.

You can visit the tower for a little over £20, and can even save a few pennies by purchasing tickets online instead of onsite. They do offer student and child discounts, so be sure to ask for the correct ticket. If you’ll be in England for a while, they also offer membership options that grant you access to Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting HouseKensington PalaceKew Palace, and Hillsborough Castle.

Happy travels!


3 thoughts on “The Tower of London

  1. I’ve been quite on the fence about visiting the tower of london. I would like to see the castle and crown jewels but I find the tour guides make a spectacle of human suffering and that bothers me. I found I could barely tolerate the colloseum in rome having learned about the horrific history of the place And did not enjoy it.

    I think it’s different when visiting places like auschwitz where it is very sad but everyone is respectful. Whereas at the tower I find the way they talk about human lives that were ended there to be very disrespectful. I think I may visit but just not use a tour guide.

    Did you go on a tour or just wander around?


    1. I had a Yeoman Warder for a tour guide, and while he did make jokes to help the group feel at ease, he wasn’t disrespectful about those who had been executed there. Of course, every tour guide is different. The Yeoman Warders do a lot of their own research, and don’t follow a prescribed script, so it probably is a matter of chance as to the temperament of who you end up with. Even if you opt out of the tour, the site itself is well worth seeing! The crown jewels are really cool, and there are many other displays as well. Henry VIII’s armor was amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Perhaps I could ask for a tour guide who isn’t into the gore… I only know some can be that way as I watched some youtube videos of the tour guides but some were much worse than others. I suppose that’s to be expected if they don’t follow a script.

        I do hope to go someday and would have loved to see the renembrance display.


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