The Famous, Infamous, Wicked, White, Bloody Tower of London  

Posted by Heidi

 The Tower of London:  a misnomer since there are a number of towers on this site.  The above photo was a bit of a surprise; I doubt I was even aware of the little boy on the left when I took this photo.   But, first, a few more of my favorite photos taken of the coach ride from Westminster Abbey to the Tower of London. 

These were, once again, taken through the coach window and I have no idea what they are of.  I surely wish I knew who this statue depicts.  He looks so grand against that white (whatever it is) building.

One can never take enough photos of gothic arches.  I am pretty sure that is written somewhere (other than here).  (But don't quote me.)

I have a vague recollection of being told by our tour guide, Ann, a wonderful, lovely, witty and knowledgeable woman, that the statue of Queen Elizabeth is one of the few (if not the only) that exists in the city.  If you can only have one, this is a good un.

I adore the above photo.  That is all.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to know what this is?  It might (might Might MIGHT) be one of the Charing Cross stages, a corruption of Cher Amie, so called by the King because they were the places where the Queen's funeral procession rested on the way to the actual funeral and interment.  (I think the king was one of the Edwards--perhaps even the First.)  (At any rate, it was a long time ago.) (Seriously long.)

LOvE the way the sun is shining on the flower in Mary's hand.  (I am fairly certain the middle statue is meant to depict Mary, in light of the babe and all.)

Our first opportunity to take photos of Tower Bridge.  This was built during the reign of Queen Victoria, who instructed that it should have a similar appearance to the Tower of London.  As a result, many people think that it is much older than it is.  I, for one, am grateful that it is not, as it enjoys much more modern (and safe) technology than it would if it had been built in 1066 (like the tower).

When looking at this I had to ask myself how they arrived at the shade of blue that is used on the trim.  I like it a lot.  (Good choice, whomsoever chose it, you!)

This one makes me chuckle.  I was actually on the grounds of the tower when I took this of the bridge in the distance. 

Victoria was a woman of good taste.  The tower is a beautiful edifice from every angle.

Finally it was time to head up the walkway into the Tower of London.  This tower with the crest is NOT the White Tower, which is the main royal residence/palace, ancient building in the complex and where the little princes were held (and murdered and buried). 

This is the Traitor's Gate where so many, including Princess Elizabeth before she was made queen, and Anne Boleyn, entered the tower.  The sign higher up on the wall, though, reads:  St. Thomas' Tower which is what it was known as at the time the two ladies floated beneath the gate.

As we approached, two of the towers of the White Tower rose into the sky.  The blue cupolas with the weather vanes were added at King Henry the Eighth's orders for Anne Boleyn's coronation.  The Tower is a place of highs and lows for many of the nobility and even royalty.  Only the most high born prisoners were incarcerated in the Tower.  (In other words, should you be arrested and tried for treason, it was a super big honor to be kept here.)

Entering the complex.  It was much less crowded when we got there then it was later in the afternoon.

Yet another view of the White Tower.

The White Tower is to the left and straight ahead is the Waterloo Barracks which is the building in which the Crown jewels are displayed.  We did wait in line for that and it was certainly worth it.  They were, quite naturally, absolutely stunning.  However, we were not allowed to take photos.  (Therefore, I have none to share.)  (Though, a man in our tour group did take a few pics.  I had to cover my daughter's eyes to spare her witnessing such depravity.) 

Not sure what this tower is--I think it is pretty cool looking, though.

There are many different architectural styles to enjoy at the Tower which is what we chose to do.  This (probably) explains why we did not wait in line to enter the White Tower.  (Big mistake--I want to weep when I think of it.)

The Tower was once home to the Royal Menagerie.  Many fans of regency romance novels can read about people going to the Tower to visit the animals.  All around the Tower today you can see different animals depicted in wire (they are truly amazing works of art) hanging out pretty much where they were kept for hundreds of years.  (Not the same animals, specifically, just the same type.) 

This fine fellow is guarding the Waterloo Barracks where the crown jewels are stored.  These guys are called "bear skins" because that is what their hats are made of, and have been for centuries.

This fellow is called a Yeoman Warder or Beefeater.  No one is sure why they are called beefeaters, however, it is rumored that there was a king long ago (sorry--it's past my bedtime and I can't remember which king--but I would bet money that it was a king of England) who allowed his yeoman to eat as much beef as they liked.  So.  There are 37 of these gentlemen who act as guards, tour guides, children minders (British for babysitters) (not really) (yes, that is what British babysitters are called but the yeoman don't really mind the children) (except when they do as documented by this photo) and general do-gooders.  They also all have quarters on the Tower grounds so they live and work there, as well as go pubbing (they have their own private pub on the grounds) and do most of their living and breathing there.  That is dedication. 

There is so much history at the Tower.  This (I'm not sure what it is but my guess is that it is a tomb of some kind) is just one of many ancient things that is just lying around as it has been for centuries.  (What do you think?  A man waving a lot of flags or the symbol for a group of vampire bat worshippers?)

Lovely lovely lovely. 

This brown house section is where Anne Boleyn and the high born prisoners were kept.  This is now where the yeomen live.  In the old days, the more special you were, the higher up you were kept.  Nowadays, the ones who live at the top are the most fit.  They have to climb 50 steps just to get to their apartments.

This is a beautiful and sobering monument to the people who lost their heads at the Tower.  Most of the people executed here lost their heads on Tower Hill which is a ways away.  Prior to the world wars, only a few were beheaded on this particular spot:  Anne Bolyen and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex were two of them.  I love the way the black names on the blue glass are reflected onto the ground beneath.  This "glass pillow" monument was installed only about ten years ago.  Around it, on the ground, is imprinted this poem:  Gentle visitor pause awhile, where you stand death cut away the light of many days. Here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life, may they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage under these restless skies.

Not sure why this guard is here.  If I had to guess, I would say that was the door to the secret "yeoman only" pub.

The ancient guard ceremony coupled with the new ceremony of documenting everything on one's camera, as evidenced by my documentation of others documenting the ancient ceremony.  (You're welcome.)

Once I had my fill of what was on the grounds (minus the interior of the White Tower--though, honestly, I think it might have just been too sad and morbid for me to even contemplate) I took a look around.  The cigar shaped building on the left is called "the gherkin" which is a kind of pickled fruit.  The white building is the Neptune Wharf, complete with Neptune, the Roman god of the ocean, counterpart to the Greek Poseidon.

They just don't build them like they used to.  Why ever not? 

The building on the far right that is narrower at the top than the bottom is affectionately known as "the cheese grater" for obvious reasons.

These beflowered buildings were once the "mews" or the stables for the Tower, which was originally a royal palace/residence.  These homes are expensive and hard to acquire.  I would give my eye teeth (almost) (as in, very nearly) to go inside one of these.  sigh . .

Other interesting dwelling places around the tower grounds.

And then I looked up.  I am ashamed to admit (because I knew better) (I KNEW better) that I first thought that the top of this building was lost in the clouds.  It is called "the shard", also for obvious reasons. 

Not sure what "the vault" is but it was interesting.


Our last view of the Tower environs as we walked away.

From the coach window I took a few more photos of the complex.  It is really a beautiful collection of structures.

Same photo with a photo shop treatment.

 A slightly different view followed by some other photo shop treatments.

I hope that you feel a bit as if you have visited the Tower and have a sense of what it is like.  I can't believe that the last three blog posts have all been the same day.  And I still haven't gotten to the Royal Horseguards Hotel!  (Next time--or maybe the one after that.)  (Promise.)

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 20, 2015 at Thursday, August 20, 2015 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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