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Worth a detour
Rating 1.7 (194 votes)

Tower of London

Listed under Castles & Palaces in London, United Kingdom.

  • Photo of Tower of London
  • Photo of Tower of London
  • Tower of London
Photo of Tower of London
Photo by ronlyons
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In the center of London on the north bank of the River Thames stands the Tower of London. For almost a thousand years this castle has served many functions; a defensive fortress, prison, royal palace, armory, mint, and place of execution. It has seen more than its share of English history, some of which still echoes in its towers and halls as many ghosts still call the castle home. The White Tower was constructed around 1078 and is the largest and oldest part of the castle. By 1270 an outer curtain wall encircled the White Tower and by 1300 a second curtain wall encircled the first giving the tower walls with walls for added protection. Many notables from England’s history have been imprisoned in the Tower of London including King Henry IV, Sir Walter Raleigh, Guy Fawks, and Rudolph Hess. Anne Boleyn was executed in 1536 for treason against Henry VIII. Her ghost still haunts the castle. One of the most famous stories involving the Tower of London is about the two Princes. King Edward IV died in 1483 and his two young sons Edward and Richard were kept in the Tower for their own protection by their uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester. Preparations were made for Edward’s coronation but it was the uncle who was crowned King Richard III. The two Princes were the only obstacles that threatened Richard’s ability to keep the throne. For a time, they could be seen playing on the grounds after their father’s death, but they eventually were seen less and less until one day they disappeared altogether. It has been speculated through the years that they were murdered by Richard III. What happened to the Princes was never discovered although the skulls and bones of two young boys were found about two hundred years later under a stairwell that was being repaired in the White Tower. Today, the Tower of London houses the Crown Jewels of England and can be toured either independently or by guided tour with one of the Yeoman Warders. I recommend taking the guided tour first, then spending the rest of the day exploring the castle on your own.

Written by  Ron Lyons Jr..

Other expert and press reviews

“Twelve towered fortress”

Set beside the north bank of the River Thames, with a wide moat around the other sides, this is a concentric fortress with a lofty inner wall with twelve towers overlooking a lower outer wall with corner bastions later made into gun emplacements. Most o… Read more...

Written by  Mike Salter.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

This is a great place to go if you like history and even if you do not it is a great place to learn. If none of this is what you're into, then there's a Wagamama right outside the Tower of London, yum.

Hundreds of people have met their end here, and lots of them in grizzly ways. Henry VI, who was 'stikk'd full of deadly holes in the hour before midnight', 21st May 1471 – probably by the Duke of Gloucester later Richard III, who is also accused of killing Edward IV's two sons, 'the two princes in the tower', and the unfortunate wives of Henry VIII are just some of the most famous, but lots of less royal executions took place on the green and hundreds of people were imprisoned in the dungeons and tortured. Anne Boleyn has been seen carrying her head, Lady Jane Grey is seen wearing white praying on the battlements and the ghostly figure of a 72 year old Countess of Salisbury is seen running from the scaffolds only to be hacked to pieces by the axe man.

The White Tower is the oldest and most haunted of the Tower's structures, known for unexpectedly powerful whiffs of cheap perfume and the oppressive, and reportedly physically felt presence of Henry III's huge suit of armour.

Tower of London

The massive White Tower is a typical example of Norman military architecture, whose influence was felt throughout the kingdom. It was built on the Thames by William the Conqueror to protect London and assert his power. The Tower of London – an imposing fortress with many layers of history, which has become one of the symbols of royalty – was built around the White Tower.

Copyright © UNESCO/World Heritage Centre. All rights reserved.

Spooky experiences at the Tower of London

Not normally a believer, I visited the Tower knowing there were supposed to be ghosts but not expecting to see anything untoward. We had arranged a special tour with the towers guards as they close up (you have to write in to them and see if you can get invited and my Uncle did, he’s into history.). They take you around rattling their keys and locking up all the big doors and gates, which was actually more atmospheric than I thought it would be. We were all chatting then our guard started telling us ghost stories - now it was summer so it wasn’t even that dark but when we got down on the river side and we started locking up the doors on the bottom floors the temperature dropped really quickly. We all noticed it, but I thought it was just the shaded section near the water being cooler. Then I felt a bit of a breeze coming from behind a sealed door and the air on my arms stood up and I felt a bit of a chill. I didn’t want to tell anyone but it turned out that one of the other people in the group had felt it as well. The guard went and had a look at the door - he said it’s never really unlocked, but he’d have a look inside, the woman got a bit nervous then and kept saying not to worry, but by this stage everyone else was egging him on - some people came on the tour hoping to see something unexpected. Anyway we had a look in the room which was really really cold and smelled strange, kind of sulphurous. There wasn’t much in there it was just a storage room with some boxes, anyway we’re all standing in there when the light flickers, we all laugh nervously and then it flickers again then turns off. We all moved towards the door very quickly. We didn’t see anything but the smell and the chill followed by the lights was enough for me to want to follow this up, so I’m going to do a bit of research on what the room is used for, or was used for more importantly. I read the bit about bad energy sticking around and that could easily apply here - loads of bad things have happened. Anyway I’ll update when I have found out more but I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience. I’m now less sure about what I believe in.

1 Reply

Tell us what you find out! Sounds very creepy.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London, one of the city's great icons, has been an imposing fortress keeping both invaders and rowdy natives at bay since the early 1080s, when William the Conqueror ordered the construction of large fortifications on the Thames. The Jewel House, containing the Crown Jewels (though some may be 'in use'), and the White Tower, containing Henry VIIIs' armour, unmissable.

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