I realize I’m dating myself, but I cannot read, hear, or say the words “Tower of London” without hearing Neil Tennant’s voice (Pet Shop Boys) singing the lyrics to their hit song from the 80s. Too bad they didn’t perform that song at the Olympics earlier this year, instead of West End Girls, so more people of all generations would be in the same predicament. But I digresss…
William the Conqueror built the tower in 1078. It was expanded considerably throughout the 12th and 13th centuries, mostly by Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I. The Tower of London has served as a prison, royal residence, armory, treasury, public records office, and is home of the Crown Jewels.
The biggest structure in the photograph below is the White Tower. It is a “keep” which is often the strongest structure in a medieval castle. The White Tower at the Tower of London is one of the largest keeps in the world and has been described as “the most complete eleventh-century palace in Europe.” This is the portion of the Tower of London that was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century.
The gate visible in the castle wall just in front of the White Tower is Traitors’ Gate. This water gate entrance to the Tower was used by both the royal family and prisoners entering the Tower. Prisoners were brought by barge along the Thames River, passing under the London Bridge, where the heads of recently executed prisoners were displayed on pikes. Among the unlucky souls who were “sent to the tower” were Queen Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas More, and Queen Catherine Howard.
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