A trip to the Tower Of London, always a lovely day. We have membership to the historical palaces, which was a fantastic purchase considering that with one visit to the tower it would be nearly impossible to see it all.
On this occasion we did not enter to see the crown jewels. We saw those in December and visiting during the summer holidays meant that there was an exceptionally large queue to get in. The queue was moving quickly, had we paid to get in then we probably would have joined and viewed them, inside there is a moving floor so that you can view them without stopping to linger. However, this week our adventures took us on another route. We were going in search of the Royal Beasts.
It is well known that the Tower of London housed a menagerie of animals, gifted to our royals by foreign rulers. A polar bear, Barbary lions, tigers, an ostrich, an elephant and many more. Some of the tales of their care are shocking, and reading some of the reviews of people who visited and saw such animals were fascinating. Seeing tigers described as “pretty looking hell cats” goes a long way to highlight how much we take for granted the sight of these animals now. To imagine never having seen one, having no idea that such a creature could possibly exist before coming face to face with one must have been a unique experience. Our nations first introduction to the idea of a “zoo”.
It is a relief that we know so much more about the needs and the care of these animals these days, Able to partake in much needed conservation work and breeding programs around the world. Reading of the polar bear, kept tied on a rope to allow him to swim and catch fish in the Rive Thames, an Elephant who was given wine to drink as a method of “keeping out the cold” and the Ostrich who was fed nails believing that it could digest the iron brings home how little was known.
When walking around we saw the Yeoman living quarters. Cottages and apartments complete with washing hanging out on the lines and pretty flower beds, the guards call the tower home, security and all. No random late night popping out for them.
We went up inside the White tower, walked through the line up of kings admiring the armour for both men and horses. Comparing that of the different kings with that of the other knights and gentry. We saw weaponry including some rather pretty gold plated and diamond encrusted guns.
We read about the role of the Tower during the 1st world war, and saw the comparison photos 100 yrs on which was haunting and sad yet interesting to see the changed in uniform and appearance. We read that there was no executions from 1780 until the 1st world war, the first being Sir Simon Burley in 1388 by beheading and the final execution at the tower being Josef Jacobs in 1941 by firing squad. 133 recorded executions at the tower in total.
In a day we can cover so much! Our monarchy, our history, crime and punishment, wars, defence, trade and finances the list goes on and on and it all suitable for all ages. It is a destination that we will return to again and that I would really recommend. You can find out and start planning your visit here