The Tower of London is one of many iconic historical landmarks in England, but what’s going on in this day and age? Despite the seemingly high entry fee (which goes towards the upkeep of the royal buildings), there’s enough going on to take up a good few hours of your time.
Gosh, a greeting from a traditionally dressed guard. A soon as you step in through the gates it’s like a living form of archaeology. See the higgledepiggeldy development of the buildings, sense the use of space and meander from the modern day back to the medieval.
Right now, the first thing to see are the 888,246 ceramic poppies cascading out of a window, down the walls of the tower and filling the moat. They were “planted” by ceramist Paul Cummings and each one represents a British and Commonwealth soldier who died during World War One. Fancy taking one home? You can, for a price, but the proceeds will be split between six war related charities.
Impressive as it is, I did wonder what the Tower of London had to do with World War One. Turns out, as a dedicated gallery explains, the Tower served many purposes during the war. For a start it’s where, in 1914, men would line up in the moat to take their Oath of Allegiance before leaving for training. Training took place in the grounds, and the 2nd Scots Guard was even dispatched to the Front Line from the Tower.
Not so into modernity, more into antiquity? Onwards to the medieval towers! This is where the greatest powers of the time would meet. But, really, admit, you’re here to see the prisons, aren’t you? From the spot where Anne Boleyn lost her head, the chapel where her remains were recovered after centuries of mystery, right down to the graffiti etched by prisoners into the Tower’s cold, grey walls, you do get a fascinating glimpse into the dark side of power while you’re here.
Time to lighten the mood, eh? Leave the people and their dastardly deeds, and check out… the animals. And it is a right royal menagerie. Upon your entrance you’ll see the remains of the Lion Pit, and an entire gallery dedicated to royal menagerie. There’s lions, tigers, and polar bears (oh my!), baboons, ostriches, and plenty of tales of disastrous encounters with the public, and even… a little animal archaeological evidence to tickle your fancy.
And as if all of that isn’t enough fun for you, there’s the spectacular sight of the royal Crown Jewels to dazzle you that little bit more. Really, what more could you want from a day out?
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