Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tubes, Towers and Tudors, Oh My!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

     Today turned out to be the best day of the trip so far, and would become one of our most memorable. We rode the "tube" for the first time, successfully I might add, and went to see The Tower of London. If any London attraction is worth the price of admission, it's this one.

     You could spend nearly a good portion of your day at The Tower. We were there three to four hours and didn't see all of it. (We missed doing the wall walk somehow). And whereas I could write you a small book about the history of the place and all that you'll see there, suffice to say, I'm going to post the pics and tell you the highlights of our time there. I do recommend, however, that if you go, do the Beefeater's tour. Our guide was fun to listen too, informative and gave us a brief overview of all the buildings, so after his talk, we were able to pick and choose what we wanted to see. We really saw and learned a lot, too much to write in length about without boring some of you who aren't history buffs, so I'll just touch on some of the highlights. A few of our favorites, here at the Tower were: The Crown Jewels, Traitor's Gate, The Queen's House, Beauchamp Tower, Bloody Tower, the execution site and St. Peter ad Vincula's chapel.  Enjoy the pictures and my musings.

The Tower of London (view from the street)


Beefeater Tour Guide
(Above)  This gentleman is called a Beefeater (aka a Yeoman) a term that dates to way back when those in service to guard the Tower got to dine well for a job well done (something like that.) Today, these gentleman have a long military history behind them and not only do they perform the "tours" at the Tower, but they also live (and their families live here too) on the Tower grounds.
Middle Tower and Byward Tower


Traitor's Gate
(Above) Traitor's Gate:  Perhaps you've seen in movies, a famous queen or courtier being taken to the Tower via boat. This is the entrance they used. Notables who came through this gate: Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Kathryn Howard, dethroned Queen Jane Gray, Guilford Dudly, etc. Only one of these made it out of the Tower again. Do you know which one?

The stairs aforementioned royal prisoner's climbed up.
(Stairs above):  Elizabeth Tudor, on her arrival at the Tower, sat down upon the steps, too frightened to go any further. Two stories abound, that either a kind jailer came and helped her up and into the prison, or her ladies did.
St. Thomas's Tower about the Tower Entrance.

The White Tower
(The White Tower above): Now serves as amour and weapons museum.

Scaffold Site

Scaffold Site
Scaffold Site (two above pictures):  Also known as the Tower Green, it's a sad memorial to those who lost their lives (i.e. heads) in or near this very spot. The names of those lost, (only about nine names, because only very important people were executed here, other common folk went to Tower Hill to be executed which is across the street.) are engraved in a circle around the memorial. Also engraved is a very sentimental saying:

 "Gentle visitor, pause awhile. Where you stand death cut away the light of many days. Here jeweled 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."    

Scaffold Site

Beauchamp Tower

Entrance to Beauchamp Tower
Beauchamp Tower (above);  Beauchamp Tower was the prison for many an accused traitor to the crown. Carved inscriptions in the inner walls give lasting life to those imprisoned, and those who lost their lives here. It's said to be one of the most haunted buildings in London. I did not get any eerie vibes, however.   

The Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula
This was one of my most memorable buildings of the entire trip. Buried here beneath the beautiful altar are the bodies of Anne Boleyn, Jane Grey, Katherine Howard, Margaret Pole, George Boleyn, Guilord Dudley and a few others. We were allowed inside with our Yeoman, but the altar is roped off. Still, it's a small, beautiful and newly restored chapel and I got a sense of peace and calm sitting inside, as if those who sleep here are content. I hope so. None of them deserved death, but were executed due to the tyranny and ambitions of others. Also in this chapel are the crypts of Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell and John Fisher. This chapel serves also as a memorial to the Yeomen who have served the Tower.
Dragon made out of amour in the White Tower.

The Queen's House
The Queen's House above is where some notable prisoner's stayed during their imprisonment, such as, but not limited to, Lady Jane Grey, Guy Fawlkes and the last prisoner held in the Tower: Rudolf Hess in 1941. Anne Boleyn is said to have stayed here before her execution as well, (although the current buildings date from after her time as Queen.) We weren't allowed inside, but if you watch movies about Jane Grey, this would be the building she walked out from and made her way the short distance to the execution site. I would have loved to go in it, but it's a residence now.

Bloody Tower (right) part of The Tower of London, England
Bloody Tower
(Above)  The Bloody Tower is so named because it is here that the two young brother princes were held under orders of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and subsequently murdered. Sir Walter Raleigh was also held prisoner here, and the ghosts of all three are said to haunt here. I DID get a very eerie and sad feeling in this portion of the Tower. Take that as you will.
Matthew very much enjoyed his trip to The Tower.

Dan did too!

Me at the Tower of London, as a guest, not a prisoner!

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge: View from St. Katherine's Docks

One of the infamous ravens that guard the Tower.

The Dicken's Inn where we had lunch!

Matt at the Dicken's Inn


    Thanks for following my blog!!! Tomorrow we visit Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and the town Oxford!

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