Visit the Tower of London, the ancient stones reverberate with dark secrets, priceless jewels glint in fortified vaults and ravens strut the grounds. Despite a grim reputation as a place of torture and death, this powerful and enduring fortress has been enjoyed as a royal palace, served as an armory and for a number of years even housed a zoo!
In the early 1080s, William the Conqueror began to build a massive stone tower at the centre of his London fortress. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. Immense, the Tower of London dominated the skyline for miles around. The Tower was protected by Roman walls on two sides, ditches to the north and west up to 25 ft wide and 11 ft deep and an earthwork topped by a wooden palisade. Although many later kings and queens stayed at the Tower, it was never intended as the main royal residence nor was it meant as the first line of defense against invading armies. The Tower’s primary function was as a fortress-stronghold, a role that remained unchanged right up until the late 19th century.
The Tower of London holds some of the most remarkable stories from across the centuries. Gaze up at the massive White Tower, tiptoe through a kings’ medieval bedchamber and marvel at the priceless Crown Jewels. The famous Yeoman Warders have bloody tales to tell; stand where heads rolled and prisoners wept. The Tower held many famous prisoners, from the highest levels of society; some in astonishing comfort and others less so… Visit the places of their confinement and read the graffiti left by prisoners from over 500 years ago.