An impenetrable fortress on the north bank of the river Thames is the Tower of London. A long and multi-functional history since being built in 1066, the Tower has been a palace, a prison, an armoury, a royal mint, a treasury, a public records office and the home of the Crown Jewels.
Most famously the Tower of London was a prison, with grisly rumours of torture. Some famous names during the medieval period were held and/or executed at the Tower, including Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s second wife), Guy Fawkes (gunpowder plot) and even Elizabeth I was imprisoned here. A plague immortalises Guy Fawkes and his fellow plotters, both in remembrance and as a warning to other prisoners of the possible consequences of their actions. Rudolf Hess in 1941, the deputy of the Nazi Party was the last state prisoner to be held at the Tower. As late as 1952, prisoners were held in the Tower. The infamous Kray twins were held in 1952 at the Tower for failing to report for national service.
The Crown Jewels comprise of 140 various ceremonial objects used by the British Monarchy. This includes 7 crowns, with a dazzling array of gold, silver and 23,578 precious stones. The tradition of the ornate coronation has been around since the 12th century and the collection has grown, until the English Civil War (1642-1651) where the monarchy was overthrown and a number of objects were destroyed. With the restoration of the Crown, the collection was remodelled and first went on show in the tower in 1771.
An iconic symbol of the British Monarch and London’s history, the Tower of London is a great place to visit.
Best to get there early and head straight for the Crown Jewels as it gets really busy. Book your tickets in advance for discounts