The Tower of London: executioners have more fun

30 Jan

Friday was freezing. I preface this post with an alliterative comment about the weather because it truly was a bitter, Jack Frost’s revenge kind of cold day. I wouldn’t recommend going to a 75% outdoors museum during such temperatures.

It so happens that Friday we went to the Tower of London. By we, I mean Sam and Gabriella from my program, my very good friend Jack (http://unionjackinlondon.wordpress.com/) and his friend Caroline who are here with their home institution, and myself. Obviously.

We took the Tube out to Tower Hill and ventured forth to one of the most haunted places in Britain, the Tower of London. The Tower is located right on the River Thames (pronounced Tems, the Brits are tricky) which provides views of…

City Hall, also known as the Erotic Onion

Tower Bridge, peeking behind the trees

To get a better idea of what the Tower is like, here is an aerial shot (thank you, Google) and a few from me:

The large structure in the center is the White Tower, which was started in the 1070s and completed by 1100. The exact date of completion isn't known. The set-up of the Tower now is as it was in 1547.

 

The exterior wall of the Tower

and more of the exterior...

The Tower isn’t just one tower as the name implies. It is a fortress consisting of a castle (the White Tower) and several smaller towers and buildings (The Bloody Tower, Wakefield Tower, etc.) and a moat and outer wall.

The best part about going to the Tower is getting to tour the grounds with a Beefeater. What is a Beefeater, you ask? Well, a Beefeater is a guard at the tower. Why are they called Beefeaters? No one knows. Simple as that. Another name for them is a Yeoman. In order to work at the Tower of London a Beefeater must serve in one of her majesty’s armed forces for at least 22 years. Our Beefeater guide, George, served in the Royal Air Force for 28 years!

George stood about five foot seven, and that was with the hat. He spoke with a thick accent but his diction and projection made him an excellent tour guide.

One thing that George did throughout our tour was add emphasis to the word “executioner” by sounding out each syllable. He followed this by facing the group and raising his hands so that the crowd exclaimed, “Oooooooh!” This carried on throughout the tour and even though our group was frozen solid, we managed to maintain high spirits thanks to George’s enthusiasm.

A few highlights from the tour…

A catapult; I always think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail when I see these...

St. Thomas's Tower. What a great name, Thomas...

I loved the blue doors on some of the Yeoman's quarters. On the right is the chapel where Anne Boleyn and a few other wives were buried.

The Waterloo Barracks, home to the crown jewels. Unfortunately, you can't photograph them. Notice how bundled up everyone is, it was frigid!

The White Tower. The largest structure in the Tower of London, it houses the main museum pieces but it was once a royal palace.

One of eight ravens kept at the Tower due to superstition. I did think of Poe yet again when I saw the birds, which live like kings by the way.

Henry VIII’s riding armor

A close up of the last image. The detail on a lot of the armor is unbelievably intricate.

Henry VIII's armor... This was when the gluttony kicked in, and the pride apparently.

More armor, not Henry's though. Again, notice that detail? As the saying goes, they just don't make things like they used to.

Banners of kings

The Chapel inside the White Tower; gorgeous natural light and columns.

Because it was so cold out we didn’t go into all of the buildings; there will be a future post about the rest of the Tower once it is warm enough to enjoy it in its entirety.

After we finished the exhibits in the White Tower (armor, canons, weaponry) we headed to a pub for a late lunch. A cheese and tomato panini called my name. I also had a pint of cider, Strongbow to be more specific. It’s the most popular cider in the UK and I certainly enjoyed it.

Looks like beer, tastes sweeter and cleaner.

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One Response to “The Tower of London: executioners have more fun”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tower of London (take two), and the London Eye « little london truths - January 12, 2012

    […] And while it wasn’t as cold out we were stuck with a consistent drizzle of London rain. But it was still a great trip; we got to go in some of the minor towers this time and Dad and Mark really loved all the armor and weaponry while Mama quite enjoyed the Crown Jewels. I won’t bore you with a second explanation and photos of the Tower, but if you are interested in reading about it again, click here. […]

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