If you have an interest in a piece of English history that is at
once deeply significant while still maintaining a sharp edge of
horror, then the Tower of London should be your destination of
choice! Situated right in the center of London on the north side of
the River Thames, the Tower of London has been a fortress, a
prison and a royal palace during it’s near thousand year
history. Inside two concentric ring walls and a moat, the Tower
of London has served as a treasury, an armory, an observatory
and most notoriously as a place of execution.
Henry VIII, one of England’s best known monarchs has a long
association with the Tower, especially with some of its more
gruesome aspects. Under Henry’s orders, Sir William Pole was
incarcerated there for for 37 years, making him the Tower’s
longest inhabitant, while two of Henry’s wives, Anne Boleyn and
Katherine Howard were both beheaded at this place. From the
Tower Bridge, one of the bridges that unites London over the
River Thames, you can have a excellent view of the Tower itself,
one that has thrilled and awed many onlookers since its opening
in the nineteenth century!
The Tower also stands a grisly reminder that at one point history, torture was a common way of extracting confessions from those accused. At the Tower, you can still see examples of the rack, a device that was used to stretch the bones and joints of the prisoners and also of the Scavenger’s Daughter, a compression device.
The Beefeaters, officially known as Yeoman Warders, who secure
the building and act as tour guides are as much a part of
English history as the Tower itself is. In times past, the
Beefeaters were responsible for the welfare of the prisoners in
the Tower and today they are an indispensable part of the the
Tower of London themselves. They are famed for their serious
expression, and every evening closes with the Ceremony of the
Keys, where the Tower is secured for the night.
One of the Beefeaters is known as the Ravenmaster, a person who is
in charge of feeding and caring for the famous ravens who live
in the Tower itself. Legend states that should these wild birds
every fly the coop, the Tower and the monarchy will crumble, so
they are bribed with a diet of fresh meat that is purchased for
If you have a love of the supernatural, there’s no better place
in England to catch a glimpse of ghosts. The Tower of London is
supposed to the most haunted building in the country and the
ghosts of the beheaded queen Anne Boleyn, Henry VI and the
Princes in the Tower, two murdered boys, have frequently been
seen walking the corridors.
If you are in England and are looking to take away some images
of where England has been and some of the dark times that have
troubled it, a trip to the Tower of London is compulsory. This
startling edifice is a justifiably famous one, so make sure you
don’t miss it!