The Tower of London

The Tower of London is a famous landmark and a magnificent structure, it's origins date as far back as the Roman Empire and the building is still in use today.

Roman Origins

The Tower of London was built in 1077, however the origins of the site date back to the Roman era, when London was founded. In those days the city was known as Londinium after the Roman’s conquest in England by the River Thames, which was met with an attack by the army of Boudicca. A large masonry structure along with a city wall was built on the site where the Tower of London currently stands, although it fell into disrepair for centuries after the decline of Roman power in London. Later on the city walls were added to and modified and were strong enough to stand throughout the fights of the Danes and the Saxons. In late 1066 after his conquest, William the Conqueror built a castle with the intention of it becoming a Royal residence on the same site.  The building remained simple until 1077 when he ordered the construction of a much grander structure which was not completed in his lifetime. The castle was completed during the reign of Henry I and was also used as a prison and a place of execution. It was not greatly modified until the reign of Richard I when he left William Longchamp as Chancellor, who reinforced the castle, while the king was off on a crusade. However he was later banished and the work was said to be completed by John, the brother of Richard I.

A Royal Residence

The Tower of London remained the Royal residence of kings and queens for several years. It wasn’t until 1837 that Buckingham Palace became the official residence of Britain’s sovereign in London. The Tower also held prisoners, some of them were famous names in history such as Sir Walter Raleigh. The Tower also saw the public executions of two of Henry VIII’s wives; Catherine Howard Anne Boleyn among many others.

The Role of the Tower of London in Present Times

There is no longer the moat which once surrounded the Tower of London, along with the defensive walls. The area of the drained moat is currently used to as a setting for special events and concerts during the summer and as the Tower of London Ice Rink during the winter season.

The Crown Jewels

Since around 1661, the British Crown Jewels are kept in the Tower of London. They represent centuries of British history and are still used today for State events.

Beefeaters

The Tower of London is also famous for its Beefeaters, also known as Yeoman Warders, who are tour guides for the Tower and they live there also. People think their name comes from the time when they would taste the King’s food to ensure it wasn’t poisoned or it could be from the time when they were paid their wage in pieces of beef.

Ravens

As for the Ravens, who can be seen during a visit to the Tower of London, a legend has it that if they leave then the White Tower will crumble and the monarchy will fall. They have lived there since the reign of Charles II and are protected by a Royal decree.

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