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Travel Guide 2   >   Europe   >   UK   >   Places of Interest   >   Tower of London

   
 

Tower of London


Tower of London
The Tower of London (officially "Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress") is a historic monument on the North bank of the River Thames in central London.

The best known building at the site is the White Tower which was a fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1078. Many people are seemingly unaware that there is in fact an entire a complex of buildings on the site, all of which are surrounded by two walls and a moat.

The Tower has a long and rich history, and has served many purposes over the centuries including as a fortress, royal residence, mint, observatory, prison, place of execution, and zoo. There are many legends associated with the site, including ghost stories, and of course the famous legend that if ever the ravens were to leave the site, the monarchy and the kingdom will fall. The Tower of London is also home to the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, which are worn by the British monarch during the coronation ceremony and in other official functions.

For more information about Tower of London, please visit the official website:

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Books about Tower of London


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The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London

By Christopher Skaife

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released: 2018-10-02
Hardcover (256 pages)

The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London
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The first behind-the-scenes account of life with the legendary ravens at the world’s eeriest monument

The ravens at the Tower of London are of mighty importance: rumor has it that if a raven from the Tower should ever leave, the city will fall.

The title of Ravenmaster, therefore, is a serious title indeed, and after decades of serving the Queen, Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife took on the added responsibility of caring for the infamous ravens. In The Ravenmaster, he lets us in on his life as he feeds his birds raw meat and biscuits soaked in blood, buys their food at Smithfield Market, and ensures that these unusual, misunderstood, and utterly brilliant corvids are healthy, happy, and ready to captivate the four million tourists who flock to the Tower every year.

A rewarding, intimate, and inspiring partnership has developed between the ravens and their charismatic and charming human, the Ravenmaster, who shares the folklore, history, and superstitions surrounding the ravens and the Tower. Shining a light on the behavior of the birds, their pecking order and social structure, and the tricks they play on us, Skaife shows who the Tower’s true guardians really are―and the result is a compelling and irreverent narrative that will surprise and enchant.

Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London

By Nigel Jones

St. Martin's Press
Released: 2012-10-02
Kindle Edition (464 pages)

Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London
 
Product Description:

A dazzling history of the Tower of London, one of the world's busiest tourist attractions, and the people who populated it.

Castle, royal palace, prison, torture chamber, execution site, zoo, mint, home to the crown jewels, armory, record office, observatory, and the most visited tourist attraction in the UK: The Tower of London has been all these things and more. No building in Britain has been more intimately involved in the island's story than this mighty, brooding stronghold in the very heart of the capital, a place which has stood at the epicenter of dramatic, bloody and frequently cruel events for almost a thousand years.

Now historian Nigel Jones sets this dramatic story firmly in the context of national—and international—events. In a gripping account drawn from primary sources and lavishly illustrated with sixteen pages of stunning photographs, he captures the Tower in its many changing moods and its many diverse functions.

Here, for the first time, is a thematic portrayal of the Tower of london not just as an ancient structure, but as a living symbol of the nation of Great Britain.

Where Is the Tower of London?

By Janet B. Pascal

Penguin Workshop
Released: 2018-09-18
Paperback (112 pages)

Where Is the Tower of London?
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The Tower of London holds almost a thousand years' worth of secrets!

The Tower of London draws more than 2 million visitors a year! Almost 1,000 years old and first built by William the Conqueror in 1066, the tower has been a fortress, a palace, a zoo, and an exhibit site for the amazing Crown Jewels. But the tower's reputation as a prison is probably what accounts for its popularity! Two young princes in the time of King Richard III were never again heard from after entering the castle, and two of King Henry VIII's wives were held captive here. Author Janet B. Pascal brings to life one of the most fascinating landmarks in the world.

Terrible, True Tales from the Tower of London: As told by the Ravens

By Peter Cottrill (illustrator), Historic Royal Palaces (Great Britain) (associated with work) Sarah Kilby

Walker Books Ltd
Hardcover

Terrible, True Tales from the Tower of London: As told by the Ravens
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The Tower of London: The Biography

By Stephen Porter

Amberley Publishing
Paperback (304 pages)

The Tower of London: The Biography
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  • Amberley Publishing
Product Description:
The Tower of London is an icon of England’s history. William the Conqueror built the White Tower after his invasion and conquest in 1066 to dominate London, and it has become infamous as a place of torture, execution and murder.The deaths of royals attracted most attention: the murder of the Princes in the Tower, the beheading of Henry VIII’s wives Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey, Henry’s great-niece, and queen for just nine days. Few prisoners recorded their experiences, but John Gerard, a Catholic priest imprisoned during Elizabeth I’s reign, wrote of being questioned in the torture room, which contained ‘every device and instrument of torture’. After being hung from manacles, his wrists were swollen and he could barely walk. Members of the aristocracy could not be tortured, and those incarcerated for a long time used their time to write. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote his vast History of the World in the Tower.Control of the Tower was vital at times of crisis, during rebellions and civil wars. It has also been the country’s principal arsenal. It housed the Royal Mint, the national archives, the Crown jewels and wealthy Londoners’ riches, and in the royal menagerie it contained one of the earliest zoos. Stephen Porter’s landmark history traces the evolution of the Tower and its changing role, the many personalities who lived or were imprisoned there, and the ‘voices’ of contemporaries during the Tower’s long history, spanning more than 900 years.

The Story of the Tower of London

By Tracy Borman

Merrell Publishers
Hardcover (160 pages)

The Story of the Tower of London
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This book reveals the fascinating stories, dramatic events and colourful characters that make up the Tower of London’s remarkably long and varied history. Written from a social perspective, it presents a fresh appraisal of this world-famous site and sets it apart from any other available book. It offers a comprehensive history of the fortress, from its Roman origins right up to the present day. With over 200 colour illustrations and a comprehensive and chronological narrative divided into thematic chapters, it conveys brilliantly the many and varied stories which make up the Tower’s history – from the menagerie and royal mint to the roll call of its famous prisoners.

The story of the Tower of London is, in many respects, the story of England. When building work began on the fortress, the capital was little more than a small town with no more than 10,000 inhabitants. Almost 1,000 years later, the fortress still stands as a symbol of royal power, pomp and ceremony, tradition, heritage, military might, treachery and torture. Its myriad roles are reflected in the complex series of buildings that make up this formidable, magnificent fortress – an iconic site that still attracts millions of visitors from across the world each year.

The Tower of London: Official Illustrated History

By Edward Impey

Brand: Merrell Publishers
Paperback (128 pages)

The Tower of London: Official Illustrated History
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An up-to-date history of one of the most visited monuments in the world that includes evidence from the most recent archaeological investigations and research. Many superb colour photographs illustrate the site's development from its first use as a fortified position in Roman London, to its construction and expansion into a major royal palace. The Tower's function constantly changed and adapted during its lengthy life as exhibited by its use as a mint, prison, zoo, Record Office, military hospital, repository for the Crown jewels and museum. Each section contains many fascinating snippets of information, plans and charts which vividly bring the structures and personalities of the Tower to life.

Experience the Tower of London: Souvenir Guidebook

By Claire Murphy

Historic Royal Palaces
Paperback

Experience the Tower of London: Souvenir Guidebook
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Paperback - Historic Royal Palaces

The Tower of London: The History of England’s Famous Landmark

By Jesse Harasta

Charles River Editors
Released: 2014-10-09
Kindle Edition (58 pages)

The Tower of London: The History of England’s Famous Landmark
 
Product Description:
*Includes pictures
*Describes the Tower and the historical events that occurred there
*Includes footnotes and a bibliography for further reading
*Includes a table of contents

The Tower of London is one of the most historic sites in all of England, and still one of the most popular. All around is the modern City of London, one of the world's most prosperous and power financial districts, but the Tower is still a daunting structure that looms across the landscape. Not a single structure but a vast network of medieval and early modern fortifications, it anchors the southeastern end of the old City and controls access to the River Thames and, through it, London's connection to the sea. While the both the City and the Thames are often obscured by the walls once visitors are inside the Tower, they are inextricably tied to the building, giving the Tower its entire reason for existence.

Even today, taking a tour of the Tower can seemingly bring its history to life. Inside the visitor center are replicas of a crown, an executioner's axe and similar artifacts, but for most visitors, this is just the start. After they cross a small courtyard and approach the first gate, known as the Middle Tower, they come to a stone bridge over a now-dry moat and enter the castle itself through the Byward Tower. The Tower, like many fortresses of its day, was built in concentric rings, so inside the outer wall is a narrow strip of land before the inner walls. Long, narrow buildings line the inside of the outer wall, and to the left along Mint Street these structures once housed the operation of the Royal Mint, making all of the coins of the realm.
From there, most visitors continue straight along, typically guided by one of the colorfully-dressed Yeoman Guards (the famous "Beefeaters"). Under the watch of the Bell Tower, they continue along the south face of the inner wall, on Water Lane, and just ahead is the famed Traitor's Gate; while today the area around here is paved and dry, in earlier times this was a "watergate" that allowed boats entry to the fortress. It was so named because this was the entrance by which prisoners (often traitors) entered the fortress, often never to leave. Ahead is Wakefield Tower, the entrance to the inner courtyards and a space that can be rented for small banquets and private dinners.

Inside the inner courtyards, visitors get a good first look at the White Tower, the 11th century Norman castle at the heart of the Tower (and the original "Tower" the entire complex is named for). Built of distinctive white stone, it has been a beacon of royal power for centuries. It is four stories tall and at points has walls of up to 15 feet thick, with towers on the four corners that have cupolas atop them (added much later than the original structure). Within the Tower is an impressive collection of medieval armor and arms, as well as the well-preserved St. John's Chapel. Directly behind the White Tower is the Waterloo Block, also known as the Jewel House. A perennial favorite of visitors, the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom are stored here when not in use.

In the southeast corner of the inner courtyard (the "Inner Ward") is a charming green space backed by lovely Tudor structures whose calm belies their bloody history. This is the Tower Green which was the location of the executions of all of those prisoners who were given "Private" deaths (as opposed to a "Public" death which occurred outside the walls on Tower Hill before the London mob).

Ultimately, it’s impossible to fully appreciate the Tower without understanding its context. Like all fortresses, it was built to control and protect its surroundings, and the history of the Tower is bound up in the mutual histories of London and the Monarchy. The unfolding saga of war, imprisonment, glory, and treason in England can all be told through the lens of the Tower, and the lives that intersected with it.

City of Ravens: The Extraordinary History of London, the Tower and its Famous Ravens

By Boria Sax

Harry N. Abrams
Released: 2012-06-28
Hardcover (206 pages)

City of Ravens: The Extraordinary History of London, the Tower and its Famous Ravens
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"The tales tell that Charles the Second feared ‘Britain will fall’ if the ravens ever left the Tower of London. Yet the truth is that they arrived in Victorian times as props in gory tales for tourists. The legend began in 1944 when a raven spotted bombers over London. But the ravens’ past has far more high drama. From the plains of the North American Indians to the Arctic tundra, all the way to the Tower of London, they have been symbols of cruelty, of survival through adversity, and a loveable icon. Boria Sax shows how our attitudes to the raven and to the natural world in general have changed enormously over the centuries. By describing the distinct place of this special bird in Anglo-Saxon culture, he shows how blurred the lines between myth and history can be. This is a unique and brilliantly readable story of the entwined lives of people and animals."


 
 
 

 
 
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