This post is part of a throwback series to my semester abroad in London in 2007!
The Tower of London is arguably the must-see attraction when you’re visiting London-it absolutely is mine. Top three reasons I love the Tower of London?
1. It's endless amount of history
2. The chills it gives me to visit and think about the executions, and hoping I see a ghost when I'm there
3. The ravens
The Tower was founded back in 1066, meaning that you can pick your favorite era of British history and trace to the Tower’s role at that time. How cool is that?
Every time I’ve been in London I have made it a point to visit the Tower; it’s one of my favorite spots in the city (yes even though it’s a tourist destination) and just evokes everything I’ve read, studied, and adored about England.
During my semester in London we used our first available weekend after classes had started to visit. Your ticket includes a tour from a Yeoman Warder (or Beefeater)-ages ago they were responsible for guarding the Tower prisoners and safeguarding the crown jewels. Now they primarily serve the role of tour guide for visitors to the Tower. The history of the Yeoman is fascinating, and in 2007 they welcomed their first female Yeoman!
Guided tours last approximately 60 minutes and give a fantastic overview of the Tower. You’ll be shown prominent points including Traitor’s Gate (as you can probably guess, this is where prisoners were brought in via the Thames on boat), White Tower which is the oldest part of the Tower of London, and the Chapel.
You’ll see Tower Green and the Scaffold Site where three queens of England were beheaded: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Jane Grey. There’s also a memorial built here to commemorate their deaths. You’ll learn all about some of the more famous points of the Tower’s history (because how could you cover 1000 years in entirety?).
The end of the tour is a great opportunity to grab a picture with your Yeoman. On my particular tour I struck a pose, putting my right hand on my hip and our guide promptly told me to "get your hand off your hip you look like a teapot." I laughed, the picture was snapped, and here you go-
Afterwards you're then free to tour on your own the buildings. You can view the Crown Jewels, tour White Tower and view the various displays and exhibitions that are running at the time of your visit. You can walk the defensive walls surrounding the Tower and take in all the beauty of the surrounding Tower Bridge and River Thames.
And my favorite, you can appreciate the ravens! Ravens have been synonymous with the Tower for ages; legend tells that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if there are ever less than six resident ravens. Per the Tower’s website: “Despite their having one wing trimmed, some ravens do in fact go absent without leave and others have had to be sacked. Raven George was dismissed for eating television aerials, and Raven Grog was last seen outside an East End pub.” The ravens (six plus a spare) are tended to by the Raven Master; I’d enjoy having that title!
Logan’s Tips and Tricks
-Buying your ticket online saves you a pound on admission. The opening and closing times vary so be sure to check the Tower’s hours here. When you arrive you’ll be alerted as to the next available time for a guided tour, and you just meet near the entrance at the start.
-Schedule a few hours for your visit so you can take a guided tour and leisurely enjoy all of the sites. For even more guided learning you can rent an audio tour for a few pounds.
- A London Pass or similar attraction pass can save you money. It’s worth looking into if you’ll be enjoying multiple London attractions in a small window of time.