Exploring the History Beneath the Tower of London

by Harriet Willis /
Harriet Willis's picture
Nov 25, 2012 / 0 comments

The Tower of London was once home to William the Conqueror. It is a place that I have always wanted to visit, but I have never had the chance to, until now.

This November, I had the pleasure of travelling up to London to explore and discover what was so interesting about the Tower of London, which is located right by the Northern bank on the River Thames. Currently, it is open for tourists to be guided round by a typical British ‘Beefeater’/Yeoman Warder, but in 1066 it was built and owned by William the Conqueror after his successful invasion at the Battle of Hastings.

Once my parents and myself arrived, we had a quick coffee right at the entrance. I drank it quickly and felt that for £3 it gave me a warm start to the day, since it was a little bit cold.

The tickets for myself (a child) were £10.45 and the adults were £20.90. Considering it was a guided tour, a full look around the castle, and great atmosphere, I felt this was a good price. The tours start every half hour, so if you have some time to kill why not take a quick look and get a few photos of Tower Bridge?

Tower Bridge

Why not explore Tower Bridge?
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: flickr.com/photos/[email protected]

After walking down a road into the castle we had our bags inspected and checked which, thankfully, was incredibly quick. Unfortunately, when we went through we did have to wait for about fifteen minutes for the tour to begin. 

When the tour guide arrived, there was a short introduction listing the basic details about the Tower of London. I discovered more about what kinds of people were executed there and that whilst the prisoners were on trial, crowds of people would wait around the castle (but mainly on Tower Bridge) to await the final verdict.

The tour then officially began and then I got to see the wonders of the grounds. Green lawns were perfectly kept and small flowers were still blooming in November.

As we walked around we had a very informative talk about how each part of the castle was built and little facts about the architecture of it and how each part was built. One of the bonuses of tours is that you are always learning information even when you are walking around the grounds to the next exhibit.

Afterwards, we got to see the crown jewels, which was absolutely magnificent. Because the room had been modernized, you could travel around the room on a travelator! The Crown Jewels have not always been kept there; in fact they used to be stored at Westminster Abbey. I discovered about how the Crown Jewels survived a fire in the 1800s, and how Thomas Blood attempted to steal them hundreds of years ago.

Next, we moved onto a small chapel in the White Tower. I had heard lots of talk about the White Tower before and even seen books based on it, but to be completely honest, I hadn’t a single clue what it was all about! 

Well, I was quick to discover. As we sat down in the room, we got a detailed talk about the tower that included a lot of important information about what the White Tower was used for: a place for the prisoners. 

I also discovered Elizabeth I was held prisoner in the tower for two months by Queen Mary. Some of the famous prisoners include Sir Walter Raleigh and Anne Boleyn (one of Henry VIII's six wives). Lady Jane Grey was also held prisoner in the White Tower because she was found guilty of treason.

Plenty more information was given to us; the tour guide did a superb job of explaining everything, and it was as though it was all happening at the very moment. 

The tour ended and then we were free to look around any other parts of the Tower of London or revisit any parts of it we felt we hadn’t covered completely. By now, the sun was shining so it was the perfect opportunity to walk around and see all of the guards surrounding the Tower and take a closer look at the moats.

One thing that stuck in my mind was the Legend of the Ravens. It says that, as legend has it, ravens have always surrounded the Tower of London and if they were to leave someday then the Tower will crumble. I thought this, although maybe not true, to be incredibly intriguing. I was relieved to see plenty of ravens around the castle.

I fully recommend a visit for a well-worth-it, historical packed day. If you are ever vising London, then why not stop by at the Tower of London?





Harriet Willis is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program