The Weird History of the Tower of London: From Royal Palace to Infamous Prison

The Tower of London is one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks in the world. But it is much more than just a pretty building. It also has an incredibly rich and meaningful history. Eerie stories have been surrounding it ever since it was built in the 11th century on the north bank of the River Thames. So let’s dive in and see what it is that makes this landmark so special. 

A Royal Palace

William the Conqueror constructed the Tower of London as a royal palace in 1066. A basic wood fortress served as the original building until it was replaced in the 1070s with a stone castle. A chapel, a great hall, a moat, and additional spaces were added to the tower over the years, transforming it into a majestic castle with lavish chambers for the royal family. 

The Tower of London served as both a royal palace and a hub for political and governmental activity. The crown jewels, the royal mint, and the treasury were all housed in the tower. The creepy thing is that this building was also a location for the detention and execution of political prisoners and traitors.

An Infamous Prison

The Tower of London gained a reputation as a place of terror and suffering during the Tudor period. In the 16th century, the tower was used as a prison for those accused of high treason, including Anne Boleyn, Queen of England and second wife of King Henry VIII. She was imprisoned in the tower in 1536 and was beheaded a few days later.

Other famous prisoners held in the tower include Sir Walter Raleigh. He was accused of plotting against King James I in 1603. Also, Guy Fawkes, who was involved in the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Both were executed in the tower.

The Crown Jewels

The Tower of London is perhaps best known for its role as the home of the Crown Jewels. The jewels have been kept in the tower since the early 14th century when they were moved from Westminster Abbey for safekeeping. The Crown Jewels consist of a collection of ceremonial objects, including crowns, scepters, swords, and orbs, used by the British monarch during coronation ceremonies. The most famous of these is the Imperial State Crown. It is worn by the monarch during the State Opening of Parliament.

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The Crown Jewels are protected by the famous Yeoman Warders, also known as Beefeaters. These guards have been part of the tower’s history since the 15th century. They are known for their distinctive uniforms and the tours they conduct for visitors.

Visiting the Tower of London

As you probably already know, the Tower of London is currently one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. It attracts millions of visitors each year. And each of them have the chance to explore the tower’s rich history and see the Crown Jewels on display in the Jewel House.

But if you really want to take a deep dive into the history of the tower, consider booking one of the numerous guided tours. They offer a fascinating insight into the tower’s history and the lives of the people who lived and worked there. You can even explore the White Tower, which houses a collection of armor and weapons, or the Medieval Palace.

Kanita is a wanderlust-fueled traveler with an inclination for unraveling the mysteries of history, the paranormal, and the bizarre world of medicine. As a true crime buff, Kanita's nights are often spent delving into the depths of chilling mysteries. Yet, it's not just the paranormal that captivates her—her background in medicine fuels a fascination with the weird and wonderful world of medical oddities, from twisted historical practices to the myths and legends that shroud the field. From exploring haunted locales to uncovering the strange and morbid tales of medical history, Kanita is your guide to the unconventional, the unexplained, and the downright eerie.

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