T of L Collage


I went to Sir John Cass Foundation School until I was eleven years old, which is in the City of London and about a mile from The Tower of London.  We had several children in my class who actually lived there!  Being friendly with them, I often went to their homes in The Tower.  I don’t quite know what I expected, but they didn’t live either in a huge palace or in a dungeon.  In fact their homes looked remarkably like that of my own.   One of my friends however did live close to where the ravens were kept!

Homes2Houses around Tower Green


Ravens B&W Collage border

There are a number of legends and myths surrounding the ravens of The Tower.  The most well-known states that The Tower and Britain will fall should the ravens be allowed to leave.  Charles II (1630-1685) apparently took this legend seriously, as did apparently Winston Churchill (1874-1965) who ensured that the number of birds remained high during the Second World War.

It is amusing to note that the birds are enlisted as soldiers and were issued attestation cards like soldiers and police.   It is also amusing to note that the ravens can be dismissed for unsatisfactory conduct, just like soldiers!

Members of the UK Armed Forces CollageMembers of the U.K. Military Services


Good Morning Collage redThe ravens are fed fresh meat each day, which is purchased by The Yeoman Warder Ravenmaster  at Smithfield Meat Market

The ravens are very popular with visitors to The Tower and I have read that even the Russian President, Mr. Putin, fell victim to their charm when he and his gang visited The Tower in 2003.  Seemingly, Mr. Putin was charmed when on of the birds greeted him with a good morning.

Putin at the Tower CollageMr. Putin & His Wife in London, 2003


Crown Jewels UK CollagePart of the Crown Jewels

Once I moved from London in 1956, I did not visit The Tower too often.  Occasionally, I accompanied visitors from abroad there and showed them The Crown Jewels and the Executioner’s Block where Anne Boylynlost her head on the 19th May, 1536.

Execusioner's Block CollageLeft: Site of the Scaffold; Right: the Executioner’s Block & Axe

Anne Boylyn was buried in the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula (i.e. St. Peter in chains), which is the parish church of the Tower of London and within its confines.  The minister is also the chaplain of the Tower and is a Canon and member of the Ecclesiastical Household.

St. Peter ad Vincula CollageChapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula


Yomen CollageYoman Warders (Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary) are popularly known as Beefeaters and were formed in 1485 by Henry VII.  The first woman was admitted to the Yoman Warders in July 2007.



I think the last time I visited The Tower was in the mid-1970s.  I had taken some visitors to London to see the Crown Jewels, The White Tower and Traitors’ Gate amongst other things and places of interest there.

TofL9Visitor’s Entrance through Byward Tower, which was built by Henry III (1207-1272) between 1238-1272

The White TowerThe White Tower is the oldest part of The Tower of London and was built by William The Conqueror (~1028-1087) between 1078 and 1097.  The walls are thirteen feet thick at their base and are ninety feet high.

Traitors' Gate CollageTraitors’ Gate was built between 1275 and 1279 as a new water gate.  

Portraits of those who passed collageThose that entered The Tower by Traitors’ Gate included (Top Row, from left to right) Edward, Duke of Buckingham (1478-1521), Anne Boleyn (~1501-1536), Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) and Catherine Howard (~1521-1542); and (Bottom Row, from left to right) Lady Jane Grey (1536-1554), Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset (~1500-1522), Princess Elizabeth (Elizabeth I; 1533-1603), Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (1565-1601) and James, Duke of Monmouth (1649-1685).


The Bloody Tower CollageThe Bloody Tower

I also remembering taking the visitors to The Bloody Tower, which is where the Little PrincesEdward V (1470-1483) and Richard, Duke of York (1473-1483), were murdered at 12 and 9 years of age respectively.  It is said that Richard III (1452-1485) was responsible for their deaths, but this is in no way proven.  However, the Little Princes did disappear once they were imprisoned in The Tower and never seen again!

Victorian View of The Little PrincesA Victorian View of The Little Princes

A number of other people were imprisoned here before their execution and included Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was burned at the stake at Oxford  and Sir Walter Raleigh (~1554-1618), beheaded at the Palace of Westminster (1618).

Held in the Bloody Tower CollageFrom left to right: Sir Thomas More, Archbishop Cranmer & the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh present in Raleigh, North Carolina


The last person to be executed at The Tower of London was Josef Jakobs (1898-1941) who was found guilty of espionage and stood before a military firing squad on 15th August, 1941.  He was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green, London.

Rudolf Hess (1894–1987), the Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler served in this position from 1933 until 1941 when he flew to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom.  He was captured and spent some time in The Tower.  When The Second World War came to an end, he was transported to Nuremberg where he appeared before the International Military Tribunal.

Hess was found guilty of Crimes Against Peace by planning and preparing a war of aggression and with other German leaders of Conspiracy to Commit Crimes, but was found not guilty of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.  Hess was given a life sentence and was taken to the Allied Military Prison at Spandau in Berlin in 1947 where he remained until he committed suicide in 1987.


Postcard of Tower unusedPostcard of The Tower of London, 1904 present on the website, Postcards of the Past


Despite my visiting London on numerous occasions during the past thirty or so years, it was probably during this visit to The Tower in the mid-1970s when I last walked across Tower Bridge!

Tower Bridge 2Tower Bridge was built between1886 and 1894

My father used to love to walk across Tower Bridge and straddle the Bascules (i.e. drawbridge) of the Bridge at the place where they almost meet in the centre.  He enjoyed waiting for large lorries or double decker buses to travel across the gap.  Naturally, at first, as a small child, I found the juddering of the Bascules to be a trifle frightening, but I learned to enjoy the experience.  My mother always refused to join us in this pleasure.


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I would like to thank Mr. Thomas Nugent for allowing me to reproduce his terrific photograph of The Isle of Dogs.

I would also like to thank Dr. Manuel Norman for reminding me of the fact that Herman Hess spent some time imprisoned in The Tower of London.


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