Where To Next?

Well, that just about brings us to the end of our tour of the Tower of London. I hope you have enjoyed it. I always like talking to the boys and girls who come here, and I even like some of the moms and dads who bring them.

I am very proud to live at the Tower of London and like telling people about its history. I have made up a little quiz you can take to see if you have been paying attention to the tour. I think it’s fun to learn things. That’s why I know all about the Tower of London. I love to read and find out what words mean. If I have used a word you didn’t understand, you could ask your mom or dad what it means. Moms and dads know all kinds of neat things about words. Or if you are really clever, you could look the word up in the dictionary. I expect there’s one in your house somewhere. My dad says I am a show-off because I know all about the Tower, but I think I am just a kid who likes to learn … and I know you are the same way. I hope you learned a few things here.

Please come back and visit me, and bring your friends my new friend. Thank you for coming on the tour of the Tower of London! See you soon!

Your friend,

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The White Tower

The last place we are going to visit on our tour is the tower called the White Tower. This is the one that I told you about at the beginning of our walk, the one William the Conqueror ordered be built in 1070. This tower is really what people think of as the Tower of London, although that name really means all the buildings within the tower walls. The White Tower is where the kings lived with their families and their friends. They had everything they could want there. There were rooms where the laws were made, and rooms to have big feasts in, and even a chapel where the king could go to pray.

The walls are very thick, in many places as thick as 15 feet, can you imagine that? The walls that touch the outside of your house are maybe 4-6 inches thick. Boy, 15 feet is about the length of a car or a small room and to think this was just the walls! That’s because in the old days when people attacked castles and forts, you wanted a really strong wall. In the olden days it didn’t have windows, just slits in the walls. It must have been a little dark inside, and probably cold as well. But it was the best place for the king to live because nobody could bother him and he was safe there.

Although kings and queens used to live in the Tower of London they don’t live here today. The Queen of England now lives in a big house called Buckingham Palace. I expect you have heard of that, or seen it on television. Its probably nicer there because the Tower didn’t have things like electricity or hot water. It was cold in the winter because its made of stone. I wonder how they kept warm in those days? How do you think they did? The last king to live in the Tower of London was James I . He lived there in the sixteenth century…a long, long time ago.

And … hey! Look! That boy in the photograph is eating an ice cream cone! Just like me, Rascal! I bet I gave him that idea. Well, ok, maybe he just likes ice cream too!

Previous <= The Crown Jewels

Next => Where To Next?

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The Crown Jewels

Because the Tower of London was once a fort there are houses where all the soldiers lived, and buildings where they kept all their swords and weapons. Soldiers don’t live there any more of course, but you can still see many of their weapons and the metal suits they used to wear to protect themselves in battle. These metal suits were called armor. They covered the soldier from his toes to his head, and were very heavy to wear. They must have made a lot of noise when they walked, you could probably hear them coming. I wonder if I can get my dad to wear a suit of armor so I can hear him coming when he wants me to take out the trash … hehehehehehe.

Right next to the place where the soldiers lived is a building called the Jewel House. This is where the Crown Jewels are kept. You’ve heard of those, haven’t you? They are said to worth so much money it can’t be counted. That must be a lot! The crowns have lots of diamonds, rubies, and pearls that sparkle and shine. And the crown is made of real gold. It’s very heavy though so I don’t think you could wear it for long without getting a stiff neck. I wonder if the Queen wears her crown when she is in her kitchen making breakfast? Or maybe she wears it when she is watching television? What do you think?

Wow, armor and swords, and jewels
and treasure and history!

The Tower of London sure is a great place to visit! I’m so lucky I get to live here all the time. Now I saved one of the best things for last. That is the White Tower …

 

 

Previous <= Traitor’s Gate

Next => The White Tower

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Traitor’s Gate

Let’s go hop over to the river now. Do you see that big gate? That’s called Traitor’s Gate. See the building that’s right on the water’s edge? That’s St. Thomas’ Tower. And see the dark archway there? Inside there is the Gate. That is where the boats came when the sheriff brought prisoners to the Tower.

Usually, they were brought to the Tower at night because some of them were liked by a lot of people and had a lot of friends, and the king or queen who locked then up didn’t want those people to get mad and riot. So they would bring them at night when it was harder to see. Traitor’s Gate used to be called Water Gate — I bet you can guess why that is — and the street next to it inside the Tower was called Water Lane.

Previous <= The Ravens

Next => The Crown Jewels

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The Ravens

The Queen’s House is right next to the Tower Green. That’s not a building; it is the grass or the “green” that belongs to the Tower of London. Although don’t you think a green tower would be funny looking?

There’s my uncle over on the bench.
Hmm, I don’t think I will call him though. I can tell the way he’s behind that tree and not looking at us he doesn’t want to be bothered.

Psst … don’t tell anyone but he’s really a little shy. Nothing like me! (hehe)

There’s my baby sister, Samantha, hopping across the grass. Hi Samantha! None of us ravens can fly because our wings have been clipped. It doesn’t hurt (it’s like you have your nails clipped); it just makes it so that we can’t fly away. There is an old custom that says if all the ravens fly away from the Tower of London, both the Tower and England will crumble and fall. So that makes us ravens pretty important. They want us to stay here and they treat us very well.

Sometimes I do naughty things, like peck at peoples shoes .. heheheheh … just to let them know whos’ boss here. Sometimes we get cross and annoyed easily. I think it’s because we see other birds flying around and sitting on the roof, or in a tree and we know all we can do is hop about, so that’s why we probably get bad-tempered. When some ravens get annoyed they will peck at your fingers, so its best not to pet us if you do visit the Tower of London and see us hopping around. I am in a good mood today though so I won’t peck anyone.

Previous <= The Queen’s House

Next => Traitor’s Gate

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The Queen’s House

The Queen’s House looks nothing like the other buildings inside the Tower. That’s because it was made in a different style. While most of the buildings are stone, or brick, or a mix of the two, the Queen’s House is largely made of timber or wood. And where the other towers are tall or bulky, the Queen’s House only has a couple of floors or stories. Isn’t that a funny name when you think of it? Stories?

There was a huge fire long ago, which was called the Great Fire of London, and a lot of the houses in the city of London were burned because they were largely made of wood. Because the Queen’s House was inside the stone walls of the Tower of London, it was saved. That makes it the only surviving house of that style from that time!

But wait! There are more interesting things about this house and history … If you live in England you will know the very famous story of Guy Fawkes. For those of you who live elsewhere, Guy Fawkes was a man who tried to blow up the English Houses of Parliament. Imagine that!

He and some of his friends decided to dig a tunnel under Parliament, which is where the laws are made in England. They rolled barrels of gunpowder into the basement and stacked them there. They planned to set off the barrels of gunpowder on November 5th. However, Just before it was time to light the fuses to the gunpowder the plot was discovered.

Guy Fawkes was captured and taken to the Tower of London as a prisoner. At the Tower — in fact in a hall known as the Council Chamber inside of the Queen’s House — he was made to confess that he was going to blow up Parliament, and he told them the names of all the other people who had helped him.

Now, every November 5th Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated in England. Boys and girls get an old suit or maybe an old pair of dads pants and an old jacket, and stuff it with straw to make a straw figure that looks like Guy Fawkes. If they can get a hat they put that on too. This figure is called a Guy. It’s something like a scarecrow. The children then put the guy in a wooden cart and take him door to door asking people for “A penny for the Guy please.”

When they have collected enough pennies they go and buy fireworks … rockets, and sparklers and bangers. As soon as it gets dark everyone, children and adults, build a huge bonfire with wood and sticks, and they throw the straw Guy on it and set the bonfire alight. As the straw Guy burns up fireworks are set off and everyone chants a rhyme:

Please to remember
The 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason, and plot
We know of no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Previous <= The Beefeaters

Next => The Ravens

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The Beefeaters

See those men in the funny-looking blue clothes? Those are the Yeoman Warders. That sounds odd, doesn’t it? But a yeoman is a title in the military, and part of the Tower of London is called the ward, so it really does make sense.

A popular name for them is Beefeaters, although no one really knows why they are called that. Can you think of a reason? The Yeoman Warders look after the Tower and the Crown Jewels, and they are very helpful when you have questions to ask them. Usually, their coats are blue with red trim, but on special occasions, they dress up in their best clothes which are bright red with gold trim.

Have you ever seen a military parade where they walk around carrying rifles? Well, the Beefeaters in their parades walk around with these long spears called pikes. And one of them even gets to carry around an axe. These are never used except in the special parades, and they are very sharp, so the adults have to be very careful when they hold these. When they are all dressed up they love to walk around and have their pictures taken.

I like to have my picture taken too. If you have your camera ready I will pose for you if you like. I am told I am very handsome in my black glossy feather coat, and my shiny beak … what do you think, null?

Hey! There I am!

That’s me doing my one-foot Rascal dance for a Beefeater. As you see, he is dressed in his blue uniform. I bet he wishes he could dance as well as I can. (hehe)

Previous <= The Bell Tower

Next => The Queen’s House

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The Bell Tower

There is a building that has a big bell in it, and that is why they call it the Bell Tower. I like bells don’t you? They ring the bell late in the evening to tell visitors they are shutting down the Tower of London for the night and that everyone has to leave. I don’t know if anyone has gotten locked in here after the bell was rung and everyone else went home, but I bet they would have had a wonderful adventure to write about if they had. In the olden days a soldier would ring the bell as a warning to let everyone in the Tower know if there was trouble such as people trying to get into the castle who weren’t supposed to.

Mary I

Mary I

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I

Throughout history, there have been lots of plots against the kings and queens of England. Sometimes the people who made trouble were locked up in the Tower. Many famous people were locked up at the Tower of London, and put into different buildings. Here at the Bell Tower, Princess Elizabeth, who would later became Queen Elizabeth I (on the left), was locked up by her half-sister Queen Mary (on the right). They were both daughters of King Henry VIII (Henry the 8th), but Mary was the oldest and so she had the right to be Queen after her father the King died. Mary was afraid that people would like Elizabeth better though, and that her sister would plot against her, so she locked her up in the Bell Tower. When Elizabeth finally became Queen Elizabeth, she locked up her enemies in the Tower of London too.

I have a baby sister raven and sometimes we peck each other and squabble over silly things, so I know what it was like between Mary and Elizabeth. If you have a brother or sister you probably fight too, but that doesn’t mean you don’t love them does it It just means sometimes they annoy you like my sister does me.

By the way, see those funny letters after some of the names? The VIII and II and I? They are real numbers: Roman numbers. The Romans were people who came from old Italy and were one of the many different countries whose soldiers made war on England and then came to live in England after they had won the battle. Well, the English and other people would use the same numbers the Romans had. When you see Henry VIII you say it as “Henry the 8th”. It means he was the 8th person to be King of England with the name “Henry”. We just talked about Elizabeth I (which I bet you knew meant Elizabeth the 1st because “I” looks a lot like the number “1”). Right now the Queen of England is Elizabeth II, or Elizabeth the Second, because she is the second queen to have the name “Elizabeth”.

Previous <= The Byward Tower

Next => The Beefeaters

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The Byward Tower

When you cross the little bridge over the grass where the moat used to be, the first building you come to is called the Byward Tower. This bridge is where the drawbridge used to be back when the moat had water in it. You remember me telling you about that, don’t you, null?

Inside the archway of the Byward Tower there was a gate that would come down to keep people out. I bet you are used to seeing a gate on a fence outside; they swing in and out, don’t they? But this gate instead would go up and down!

You can see in the drawing here what it might have looked like back then: The knights are rushing over the bridge with news for the king. They are going through the archway just as the gate starts to come down.

Previous <= The Lion Tower

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The Lion Tower

Shall we go get some ice cream at the Tower Restaurant? I like strawberry myself, but you can have whatever flavor you want. Ravens’ favorite food is raw egg, which tastes pretty good to ravens. I don’t think they sell raw egg ice cream at the Tower Restaurant though so I will have a strawberry ice cream cone to keep you company. The Tower Restaurant wasn’t always a restaurant. In the olden days there used to be a tower here called the Lion Tower.

The Lion Tower was called that because the king used to keep all kinds of animals here. It was his zoo. If you close your eyes really tight you can imagine the lions walking about. There was also an elephant … and bears too! Yes, I know, they were silly to keep all of those big animals indoors weren’t they? I bet your mom and dad wouldn’t let you keep an elephant in the house, and they are right too! Later, all the animals were moved to a nicer place where they had more space to walk about, and they called that place the London Zoo. Lets take our ice cream cones and continue with our tour.

Previous <= About The Tower

Next => The Byward Tower

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