According to ehealthfacts, the Tower is one of the most famous sights in London. The building complex built by William the Conqueror on the Thames in the 11th century is the symbol of the Norman conquest of England. The former prison, in which, among others, Thomas More, Anna Boleyn and Sir Walter Raleigh were executed, received its present appearance in the 13th century and served as the residence of the English kings for a long time. The complex includes the mint, the state archive, an arsenal and an observatory. Thousands upon thousands of visitors are fascinated every year by the dark history of the place, which is also the repository of the English crown jewels.
Tower of London: facts
|Official title:||Tower of London|
|Cultural monument:||fortifications and royal residence that have been expanded several times, including with the St. Thomas Tower and the Traitor’s Gate, the access to the tower from the waterfront, with the Bloody and the Wakefield Tower, the Jewel House with the valuable crown jewels and the 35.9×32.6×27.4 m White Tower, the The heart of the facility|
|Meaning:||a symbol of the British monarchy|
Tower of London: history
|1066-87||under William the Conqueror construction of the White Tower on the old Roman city walls|
|1216-72||under Heinrich III. Installation of the inner wall ring|
|1275-85||under Edward I (1272-1307) the fortification was extended to the west, north and east|
|1307||Task of the Wakefield Tower as a residence|
|1532||Conversion of the St. Thomas Tower for the coronation celebrations of Anna Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII.|
|1536||Execution of Anna Boleyn|
|1641||Constable Tower used as a prison|
|1774||Destruction of the Lanthorn Tower by fire|
|1834||Task of the menagerie in the Lion Tower|
|1843||Drainage of the moat|
|1941||Rudolf Hess, “Deputy” Adolf Hitler, prisoner in Queen’s House|
|1967||Opening of Jewel House|
|1995-97||archaeological excavations in the moat|
|1995-2004||As part of the Tower Environs Scheme construction program in the tower area: Blocking of car traffic from the south and west of the fortress, redesign of the west entrance on Tower Hill|
Blood and tears…
If these stones could talk, they would tell of the pains of the passage of time; and if they had a memory, they would remember those they met here – William the Conqueror, at whose time construction of the Tower began, the two heirs to the throne, Edward and Richard, those of their uncle, the Duke of Gloucester and later Richard III were thrown into the Tower, to Henry VIII and his Lord Chancellor Thomas More, who refused his king recognition as head of the English Church, or to Anna Boleyn and Katharina Howard, the two “adulterous” wives of Henry VIII. who were imprisoned here and died under the ax.
While the stream of visitors does not seem to stop and the water of the Thames gurgles incessantly against the walls and the Traitor’s Gate, through which Thomas More and Anna Boleyn once began their “last journey”, tinny avalanches pour over the nearby Tower Bridge into the gullet the city. Nevertheless, this symbol of London and a symbol of the English monarchy seems to have been completely untouched by modern innovations, but according to a legend it is closely linked to the weal and woe of the eight ravens of “Tower Green”. Concerned that the monarchy would perish if the ravens leave the Tower, the black-feathered people have been tended for centuries, making sure that at least seven (six plus one raven for “safety”) of them hop around on “Tower Green”.
If you leaf through the pages of history, a monarchical power becomes clear that – as in the 16th century – could only be secured by blood: strong and unshakable like the walls behind which he was imprisoned, but above all without any doubt Sir Thomas More, who was regarded as a critical spirit throughout his life, opposed the omnipotence of Henry VIII by his convictions. More was a humanist, legal scholar and Lord Chancellor, but also a close friend of the monarch. Against the prevailing unreasonableness, against envy, greed and inequality, he wrote »Utopia«, a creed for a state structure based on common sense and equality. That in itself was a challenge to the selfish regent. When More neither the divorce of the king from Catherine of Aragón nor the position of the royal “Defensor fidei”, the “defender of the faith”, as the head of the church felt appropriate, he decided – in the conflict between loyalty to God or reason of state – for God and for his conscience. After he had refused to take the oath of the so-called Supreme Decree in 1534, Heinrich had him thrown into the Tower and tried him. Instead of being hanged and quartered, the king showed him the “grace” of dying under the blunt ax. In anticipation of death on the scaffold, he is said to have said to those standing by that he awaits death “in the faith and for the faith of the Catholic Church and as the king’s faithful and God’s first servant”.
Thousands upon thousands who travel to the Thames annually don’t care. They also fail to notice that the tower was built on a former Roman camp. Your gaze falls only on the defiant walls around a towering white square, the White Tower – the heart of the originally Norman castle complex. When entering the castle complex, most of them are full of expectation to be able to admire the English crown jewels that are kept in the tower. Behind closed doors, however, Her Majesty’s subjects reveal in a whisper that the treasures on display are probably replicas. But for this bold assertion, which every official travel guide about the “HM Tower of London” denies.