Possibly one of the most intriguing, gory and fascinating places to visit in London has to be the Tower of London, home to the Crown Jewels and many a king and queen from Britain’s history. I have been a few times now but the most recent visit with the girls over half term was a fantastic day out.
I made sure we arrived early in the morning as I knew there was lots to see and do. As we walked through the entrance a Yeoman, also known as a Beefeater, stood waiting to start his tour. So I hung around as the tour is free and packed with interesting facts.
We saw where the Ravens’ nests are. We learnt about Traitors Gate and the Bloody Tower.
We saw where heads used to be chopped off and I caught a raven flying over in my photo which I’m pretty pleased about. Here’s a close up of the monument erected in the beheading area.
The yeoman also mentioned the Beauchamp tower, seen in the photo above behind the flying raven, where the prisoners were kept until their fate was decided. Sometimes it was for years and there is a lot of graffiti on the walls from hundreds of years ago.
The Yeoman tour is great for adults and older children but by the third stop of the tour my two were getting bored and wanted to move on so we walked over to join the queue to see the Crown Jewels.
It was a long queue and even on entering the building there is still a long route to follow and lots of foreigners trying to overtake.
The Crown Jewels are fascinating for all ages but no photos were allowed. The twins were in awe with the guards outside The Jewel House, we stood and watched them march up and down a few times. The girls were delighted to hear them talking as they met in the middle and tried to understand what they were saying.
After this we sat down on one of the many benches in the sunshine and ate our sandwiches before visiting the White Tower, or the central building with the four turrets.
Again you follow the route laid out passing through the vast rooms filled with armour from the Arsenal, coins from the Royal Mint and records from the Tower Record Office where I spotted an old map on the wall showing our home town of Gravesend calling it Gravesend Beach.
We walked right to the top of the building where there is a wonderful dragon made up of all sorts of materials.
Then there’s the long walk down, down, down one of the turrets, a tight spiral staircase leading out into the sunshine once again.
We decided to visit the Beauchamp Tower for a closer look at the graffiti and the rooms of the State Prison before heading off to the Bloody Tower.
There is a long walkway running around the castle which gives off the most spectacular views of London, this is taken outside the Bloody Tower looking over the Thames at Tower Bridge.
I didn’t know that the Tower of London had been home to London Zoo until moving it to Regent’s Park. Known as the Menagerie and home to lions, tygers, lynx and a porqupine as recorded by Hentzner in 1598 one of the first visitors to record his impressions. The girls tried out the cage on show.
As we walked around the top wall back to the centre and on our way to the exit I couldn’t help but stop and take a snap of this fabulous view of The City of London.
Our visit for now was complete, the girls were tired, I was too and we left wanting to return one day as there was so much more to see.
My Top tips for visiting
- If you would like to visit the Tower of London or find out more information take a look a the official website where booking online also allows discounts.
- I would really recommend following the Yeoman’s tour which is free of charge.
- There are plenty of benches to sit and eat a sandwich or for a rest throughout what can be a long day.
- Pick up a trail at the Welcome Centre for the children to use as they make their way around the site
- Keep an eye on the What’s On page for events organised throughout the year and school holidays.
All photos taken with iPhone 4