Today for Andrew’s afternoon tour class we visited the Tower of London, the start of ‘Medieval London’ week lessons. By the end of the tour, the Tower seemed a lot more tourist-y than historically accurate, but I really enjoyed the old pieces of history found in the White Tower – especially the section about gold and silver!
Our class was pleasantly surprised by a large crowd while walking towards the tour entrance of the Tower. Unfortunately I was unable to take his photo, but we did see BEN STILLER on set filming Night At The Museum 3 – and I can’t wait to point out this scene in the cinema!
Upon entering the Tower we realized that part of the interior actually looked like a village. We spent some time exploring the outside grounds, and reading the descriptions of various statues. I really liked the statues of the different animals (such as the polar bear and the monkeys) – they seemed to be everywhere!
The Wardrobe Tower was another of my favorite spots because of the tower’s name – it isn’t complete, and I admit I wasn’t really paying attention to the description of the tower because I was too busy watching the ravens!
Before entering the tower, there was a section of wall cut-out to display a plaque dedicated to the Two Princes, sons of Edward IV and supposedly murdered by their uncle Richard III when he ascended the throne.
Once inside, the first of the many displays we were able to see was the Line of Kings exhibit. Among the pieces displayed in the exhibit, the ones I found most interesting were the following:
- Ancient German Saddle, displayed in the western vestibule of the New Horse Armoury in the mid-19th century
- Armour (domaru) – one of 2 presented to King James 1 in 1613 by Tokugawa Hidetada, shogun of Japan, as a diplomatic gift accompanying the signature of the first trade agreement between England and Japan.
- Spanish collar for torture in 1588 / Early Tower guidebooks preferred to say that it was put around the necks of wayward wives.
After moving along to the second floor, we explored more of London’s international ties. There was an entire display dedicated to diplomatic gifts from different parts of the world entitled “World Treasures” – items such as a presentation stirrup and sword (tachi) from Japan, a Native American headdress from the USA, a sword (khanda) and scabbard from India, and a shield, sword (shotel) and scabbard from Ethiopia.
The third floor was more interactive-based, including several ‘games’ such as archery and guess the constellation. The area also included a display dedicated to prisons and prisoners with actual manuscripts and items from the war era, and torture/execution instruments including:
- Executioner’s Mask – more likely used to punish gossips
- Block & Axe
- Scaffold Fragment
- Leg Shackles – with a weight of 6.35kb (14lb) that restricted movement, it was hammered shut and needed a blacksmith to be removed
Finally we entered the collection of the Crown Jewels exhibit, where we were unfortunately not allowed to take pictures. Still, I really enjoyed the history behind the pieces – including each of the items used during a monarch’s coronation!
After the Crown Jewels exhibit, we went to Beauchamp Tower to look at the graffiti. I admit I was a bit disappointed because I was hoping for walls upon walls of graffiti, but there were only small sections of each wall with writing on them. However the view of Tower Bridge (and the setting sun) definitely made up for that minor disappointment!
Before leaving we were also able to see the catapult up close!
Finally the tour was over, and we were all rushing to get back to the tube stations before dark as it was already quite chilly. Before leaving I had to stop by and take a photo of the gate, because of the emblem in gold!