Tower of London

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.

Tower of London Yeoman

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.

Tower of London Traitors Gate

We saw where the Ravens’ nests are. We learnt about Traitors Gate and the Bloody Tower.

Tower of London Raven

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.

Tower of london chop heads

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.

Tower of London Graffiti

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.

Tower of London Yeoman tour

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.

imperial state crown

 

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.

Tower of London Jewel House guard

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.

Tower of London white tower armour

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.

Tower of London Gravesend beach

We walked right to the top of the building where there is a wonderful dragon made up of all sorts of materials.

Tower of London Dragon

Then there’s the long walk down, down, down one of the turrets, a tight spiral staircase leading out into the sunshine once again.

Looking out of the Beauchamp Tower

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.

Tower fo London view of Tower bridge

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.

Tower of London Menagerie

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.

Tower of London 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.

Tower of London white tower

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

Tower of London sea of red

Half term. Seems like a lifetime ago now but it’s only been over a week.

Poppies at Tower of London

I like to organise something to do with the girls over their school breaks and I had decided on the poppies at the Tower of London this time. Firstly because we had spotted the first of them being placed on our Buckingham Palace trip in the summer and I wanted to return to see the difference. Secondly because it is such a beautiful way to commemorate the 100 years passed since World War One.

Tower of London poppies

 

1914 - 1918 navy

Paul Cummins, creator of the Blood swept lands and sea of red has made 888,246 poppies, one for each British and Commonwealth death during WW1, to be placed in the moat of the Tower of London. They went on sale and all net proceeds plus 10% of every £25 poppy sold will be shared between six service charities, including Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion. (BBC) I tried to buy one but they were all sold out, which I’m really happy about but, on the other hand sad I don’t have one.

However from what I understand, after a tour of the UK there will be a final installation at the Imperial War Museum for everyone to enjoy for many many years.

poppies Tower of London

The girls and I crossed Tower Bridge to reach the Tower and the pavements were already busy, the closer we got the thicker the crowds became but we managed to see the poppies and take a few hasty photos.

I had booked us tickets to enter the tower, visit the Crown Jewels, see the Beefeaters and enjoy a day of history but it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t such a good idea.

Tower of London poppies

I have read that over 4,000,000 people have visited the poppies and a good proportion of them were there the Monday I took the girls. In fact it took us one hour to get from the bridge side of the tower to the ticket office side where another queue waited to collect the tickets. Basically the length of the photo below where I am standing to the far end.

I noticed that there was a further queue of one hour to get inside the palace and then a two hour queue to see the jewels.

Tower of London poppies

The girls were already tired, hungry and grumpy after walking that small stretch so, thankfully, I managed to swap my tickets for an open ticket to return at some point in the future.

Tower of London - sea of red

 

Thank you Tower of London as I really do want to return to show the girls just how beautiful the Tower of London is. We’ll be back soon.

Today 9th November 2014 is Remembrance Sunday and we would like to take a moment to remember and thank all of the 888,246 who lost their lives for our freedom.

Thank you.

Disclosure: Journl, which I will be telling you about very soon, treated us to a day out in London. Do check