The Tower of London
UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of the English Crown Jewels
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of the big five visitor attractions in London. The Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to the Crown Jewels, an incredible collection of armour and medieval chambers, all ready to explore with your tour guide.
The Tower has grown over many centuries into a vast complex of towers, turrets, palaces and thick walls. The Castle guards the Thames, the gateway into London. A protective barrier to would-be invaders, and simultaneously intimidating the native population.
The Tower of London for some is an all-day experience; others prefer a highlights guided tour. We will tailor a tour of the Tower of London for you, click here for our suggested itinerary; The Old City of London Tour, if you are travelling with your children, you may prefer The Family Tour of London. We can customise a guided tour to match your requirements. There is so much to take in; we are here to help you manage your time effectively.
The brief history of the Tower of London
William of Normandy invaded England in 1066; this date is burned on the brains of every English person because this date was the last successful invasion of England. After landing on the south coast, William met the formidable forces of King Harold II on Senlac Hill on the 14th October 1066. The English were holding out; it wasn't going well for William. Then at a crucial moment in the battle, William faked a retreat, and the English followed leaving their hilltop position. William becomes the conqueror, and the country changed forever.
William the Conqueror decides to build the White Tower to protect his new prize and impress, and suppress his new subjects. Nobody in England had seen anything like it, a 90 ft high stone tower with 15 ft thick walls.
With the arrival of new monarchs and turbulent times, additions to the Castle became the norm. Concentric walls, water-gates, halls and towers appeared in the 13th and 14th Century. The Tower, much like many castles of the era had many uses, as a palace, prison, Royal mint, armoury and even a Royal menagerie (a collection of captive animals). Today the Tower is still a working castle and not only a visitor attraction. Around 150 people live at the Tower, including the Yeomen Warders (beefeaters).
The Crown Jewels
The coronation regalia (Crown Jewels) are required when a new monarch becomes King or Queen. We have all seen that fairy-tale moment when a crown is placed on the head of the incumbent ruler. Although the Imperial State Crown is worn every year for the state opening of Parliament, Her Majesty the Queen gives a speech on this occasion. Therefore items are used each year and not just once.
When you step into the Jewel house, the exhibition explains the story of treasures and the ceremony. You will see film footage of the crowning of Her Majesty the Queen. You will then be dazzled by the beauty and rarity of what you will see.
The Queen's sceptre is a rod of authority; mounted on end, is the 1st star of Africa, the largest high-quality diamond globally at 530.2 carats. St Edward's Crown is crucial during the coronation ceremony; it is used for the crowning moment only. It is gold, and mounted with large semi-precious stones. Decorated with nearly 3,000 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls and four rubies is The Imperial State Crown. See much more, discover the Crown Jewels on a VIP Private Tour of the Crown Jewels.
The Yeomen Warders
During religious and political upheaval of the 16th Century, the new Tudor dynasty needed close personal protection. King Henry VII established the Yeoman of the Guard (now Yeomen Warders) nicknamed the Beefeaters. Their job in the past was to travel with the monarch and protect him or her always.
Today the Beefeaters live, guard and conduct tours of the Tower of London. The British Armed forces can apply and must have at least 22 years' service in the British Armed Services.
The Tower is famous for being a Prison. It was not just any prison; it was a high-end place of incarceration, for political prisoners, Royalty and people of high rank. Imprisoned Queens include; Catherine Howard, wife of King Henry VIII, Lady Jane Grey, and the future Queen Elizabeth I, was jailed for her alleged part in a rebellion during the reign of Queen 'bloody' Mary I.
Other prisoners were political plotters, royal rivals, and foreign invaders. One such invader was Rudolf Hess (a leading member of the Nazi Party during WW2). Hess flew a Messerschmitt Bf 110 to Scotland, in an attempt to open peace talks with the with British. His mission was unauthorised by the Nazi regime; he was considered unstable and locked up at the Tower of London. Hear more tales on a guided tour of the Tower of London.
Treasonous, political and religious prisoners were interrogated and tortured at The Tower. This place does have a horrible reputation as a place of torture; although not entirely warranted. You will see a torture chamber with displays of various instruments; it is thought-provoking grown up exhibit and does not glorify the acts.
Touring and accommodation
The best places to stay in London are Mayfair, St James, and the Royal Borough of Kensington. If you are considering day tours from London, staying further west in Kensington makes sense. Harrods and Hyde Park are close. Staying in Mayfair and St James will give you easy access to Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and high-end shops. The theatre district called the ‘West End’ is a short hop too.
Our Tour Designers are here to customise your private tours of London and day tours from London. Tell us about you and your interests, and we will create a tailor-made tour. Our Old City of London Tour features the Tower of London and will be customised for you.
If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of your Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands. Merging Wales with England makes for a dynamic experience of mountains, stately homes and cosy country pubs.
Unlock the History at the Tower of London
One Thousand Years of Power Struggles, Imprisonment and Murder
- UNESCO World Heritage Site
- VIP Tours Available
- See the Crown Jewels
- Walk the Walls
- Explore the Medieval Palace
- See the Royal Armoury
Meet the Beefeaters at the Tower
Gauntlets at the Tower
The White Tower Turrets
The White Tower