The Tower of London

As we’re heading off to London in a couple of weeks to have a look around Westminster Abbey I thought I’d do a couple of posts on my previous visits to historical places in London. My first post will be on our visit to the Tower of London, with lots of photos so be prepared.

We went to the Tower almost a year ago and it is still one of my favourite places for it’s historical importance. A number of high profile prisoners were executed here including Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey and Edward Seymour. I found the chapel of St Peter Ad Vicula to be possibly the most moving place on earth, and I sat in front of the chapel in silence looking at the graves of so many innocent people. Under the floor of the altar lie the bodies of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Lady Jane Rochford, all of whom executed on trumped up charges of treason. It was such a sad place, especially knowing that both Katherine Howard and Jane Grey were so young when they lost their lives to the axe, all of them innocent. It was in this chapel that I began to think more and more of the young Katherine Howard, and I fell in love with her character. It prompted me to read more about her life, and thus I am now sure that although she may have been guilty in some way of adultery, she was just a naive little girl who wanted to be loved.
Below are some photographs that I took of our trip.

The famous traitors gate. The beefeater guides at the Tower love to tell tourists that Anne Boleyn was brought through here when she was arrested and incarcerated here at the Tower but she wasn’t. As she was still Queen she was brought in through the main gate and given all due honour as Queen. I had to bite my tongue when I heard the beef-eaters telling poor unfortunate tourists that Anne was brought through here – the board in front of the gate even says that she was!!

The chapel of St Peter Ad Vicula (meaning St Peter In Chains). In here are buried so many important individuals who were executed at the Tower including Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, Edward Seymour, Jane Rochford, George Boleyn, Thomas More and John Fisher. I found it to be an incredibly moving place and as I sat there I found myself almost in tears (sad I know) but this is certainly somewhere I will be visiting in future, and I would love to take flowers there on the anniversary of Katherine Howard’s death.

The Jewel House, in which are housed the Crown Jewels. This is also the site of the scaffold upon which Anne Boleyn and a few years later Katherine Howard lost their lives. This is nowhere near the monument which says the scaffold was on the site of the green (something alas made up by the Victorians, and another thing that the beefeater’s love to tell the tourists!)

This is one of the Ravens housed at the Tower of London. There is a wonderful prophecy that says if the Ravens ever leave the Tower then the White Tower will fall and it will be the end of the world. There have always been Raven’s at the Tower, and Charles II was the man who said they should always stay – after an argument with the astrologer who said they were getting in the way! This prompted the beginnings of the Observatory at Greenwich! I’ll admit now that this particular Raven scared me something chronic as he settled on the railings and gave me the evil eye!

This book, “The History Of The World” was written by Sir Walter Raleigh during his imprisonment at the Tower, and is now housed in the room that he was held in!

Graffiti on the walls of the Beauchamp Tower. Here you can clearly see the name “Jane” carved – possibly carved by a supporter of Lady Jane Grey who was imprisoned here. There is also the insignia of Anne Boleyn carved on these walls, but the falcon is minus its crown signifying her downfall.

And finally here is a suit of armour that once belonged to King Henry VIII, currently on display in the White Tower. I was in awe of the size of this armour, he certainly was a big man with very broad muscular shoulders! This suit of armour was before Henry got fat (for want of a better word) and there is another suit of armour on display which is much bigger to fit his large girth!
I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the Tower and it’s certainly somewhere I am looking to return to in the future. There really is so much there to see, and although we got around most of it there were certain parts we just didn’t have time to get to. I definitely urge anyone interested in Tudor history to get themselves to the Tower (and indeed if you’re interested in earlier stuff also – there are the ruins of Roman walls in the grounds!) as it certainly makes for a wonderful day out!

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