The Martin Tower is one of the most recognizable structures within the historic Tower of London complex. It is a 13th-century tower that has stood the test of time and witnessed significant historical events throughout its existence. In this article, we will explore the history, architecture, and significance of the Martin Tower in the Tower of London.
History of The Martin Tower
The Martin Tower was built during the reign of King Henry III, who ruled England from 1216 to 1272. The tower was constructed in the 1230s as part of the king’s expansion of the Tower of London complex. It was originally known as the Jewel Tower and served as a secure storage facility for the royal treasures, including the crown jewels, which were later moved to the Jewel House.
Over the years, the tower was also used for various purposes, including as a records office, a private residence, a royal mint, and a storehouse for artillery. It was during the 16th century that the tower received its current name, the Martin Tower, after a notorious prisoner named John Martin was held there.
In the centuries that followed, the tower continued to play an important role in the history of the Tower of London. During the reign of King Charles II in the 17th century, the tower was used as a prison for high-ranking prisoners, including the Duke of Monmouth, who was executed on Tower Hill in 1685.
The Martin Tower Architecture
The Martin Tower is a well-preserved example of 13th-century military architecture. The tower is circular in shape and has a diameter of approximately 33 feet. It is built from Kentish ragstone, which was a popular building material during the medieval period, and has a height of approximately 39 feet.
The tower has three floors, each of which has a vaulted ceiling. The ground floor was originally used as a storage room and has a low, narrow entrance that was designed to make it difficult for intruders to enter. The first floor was used as a living space, and the second floor was used as a guardroom.
One of the most interesting features of the Martin Tower is its original timber roof, which is a rare surviving example of medieval carpentry. The roof has a conical shape and is made up of eight oak beams that converge at the top of the tower.
The Martin Tower Significance
The Martin Tower is an important historical landmark that has played a significant role in the history of the Tower of London. Its construction during the reign of King Henry III was part of the king’s effort to strengthen the fortress and make it more secure. The tower’s use as a storage facility for the crown jewels was an important part of its history, and it remained a vital part of the Tower of London complex until the jewels were moved to the Jewel House.
The tower’s use as a prison during the 16th and 17th centuries is also an important part of its history. Many high-ranking prisoners were held there, and it is likely that some of them were subjected to torture and other forms of punishment. The tower’s association with these dark and sometimes gruesome events has helped to make it one of the most popular attractions within the Tower of London complex.
Today, the Martin Tower is open to the public as part of the Tower of London tour. Visitors can explore the tower and learn about its history and significance, as well as enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area from the tower’s upper levels.
The Martin Tower is a fascinating and historic structure that has played an important role in the history of the Tower of London. Its construction during the reign of King Henry III was part of a larger effort to strengthen the fortress and make it more secure, and its use as a storage facility for the crown jewels was an important part of its history.