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The Tower of London

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The Tower of London is by far one of the most famous and well preserved historical buildings in the world. It was founded by William I of England better known as William the Conqueror (1066-87).

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      06.08.2013 10:16
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      Worth making the effort

      I am a very lucky girl. My friend knows I love history, particularly that of the royals so for my birthday bought me an annual pass to the Historic Royal Palaces. One such palace included is the Tower of London, which is spite of living 45 minutes away, I have never actually been to before.

      The Tower is open daily (except 24-26 December and 1st Jan) and times vary depending on the time of year and day of the week, so I suggest checking online. Visiting on a Spring Sunday it was open 10am to 5.30pm. Normal adult admission is £19.50/£21.45, children are £9.75/£10.75, concessions (students, Over 60s) are £16.50/£18.15 and a family of two adults and up to three children is £52.00/£57.20. The second price includes a voluntary donation. Savings are available by booking online. Annual membership is £45.

      We went on London Marathon day, and accessing the Tower from Tower Hill station (District & Circle line) was a bit of a challenge as it was so busy and we needed to find an underpass to cross. The Tower itself didn't seem to be too busy (although we were also slightly out of season) and we could see the runners on Tower Bridge. On a normal day getting here from the tube station would take you just 2-3 minutes. The Ticket office didn't seem to be that busy and there were plenty of staff behind the counters. We both purchased a Souvenir Guide Book for £4.95 (also available inside).

      The Tower was originally built by William the Conqueror, and although exact dates are not available, the iconic White Tower was certainly under construction by 1075 and completed by 1100. Richard I began expanding it in the late 12th century, and again in mid thirteenth century under Henry III, and his son Edward I built further until the Tower began to look like the fortress we see today.

      ARRIVAL

      As you approach the main entrance (groups enter elsewhere) you will spot some lion sculptures that are in what was once a lion pit, when lions lived here (firstly in early 13th century). As you cross the bridge and enter through the Middle Tower (the original first tower - The Lion Tower - no longer survives) you will see the meeting point for the Yeoman Warders' (Beefeaters) tours. These tours are every half hour and last for approximately one hour. We didn't do this straight off but came back to do one later. I am not sure how different they are but all warders will have their own 'voice' and ours was a highly entertaining gent. He gives you a few more stories than you would get from the guide book and signage (I didn't get an audio guide so cannot comment on that) as well as pointing out details you may have missed on your own (we did). They are free and are well worth factoring into your visit if time allows.

      THE MEDIEVAL PALACE

      This consists of three towers at the beginning of the Wall Walk. The highlight (for me) was St Thomas's tower, which was built by Edward I, where you can see a recreation of his bedchamber (c. 1294), from here you walk across a covered bridge to the Wakefield Tower (built 1220-40) which was where Edward's father, Henry III may have used as his private audience chamber. A replica throne is here too. This is opposite the little private chapel that he would have used, and was later the place where Henry VI was murdered. Within both these towers are a number of signs with background information as well as short films on a loop. As you follow the sign round, beyond the Lanthorn Tower, you will automatically find yourself on the Wall Walk.

      WALL WALK

      This is well worth doing if you are able but it involves stairs (sometimes in narrow staircases), but you do get an interesting perspective of the Tower and it is a good way to ensure you see the attractions offer on this far side of the Tower. Most of the towers along this wall belong to Henry III's era and six of them are open to the public.

      The Salt Tower is the first one you come to. Part time storehouse and part time base for archers defending the Tower from attackers on the Thames, it was also a prison and original prisoners' graffiti can also be seen. A similar use was nearby Broad Arrow Tower: part prison, part storage area for Royal robes and furniture. From here you move onto the Constable Tower which looks as the Peasants' Revolt from 1381, and you can see some examples of weaponry. The Martin Tower, a bit further along, used to hold the Crown Jewels up until 1841 and nowadays contains an exhibition 'Crowns through history' which tells the story of the modern crowns/crown jewels and how they evolved (stones from old crowns would be re-used in new ones). There are some crowns on display here, but the stones have already been removed and can be seen in the Crown Jewels exhibition.

      One of our favourite exhibitions was the 'Royal Beasts' in the Brick Tower (19th century restored tower, after the original was lost in a fire). The Tower's Menagerie began when King John was given a lion in 1210. Subsequent gifts (usually from other European Royals) included a Polar Bear who fished in the Thames on a long leash, as well as monkeys, other big cats and a grizzly bear called Martin. Eventually the menagerie was disbanded and moved to the new London Zoo in Regent's Park. By all accounts it is a miracle many of these animals survived as no one had any real idea how to care for them - the elephant died after two years living on meat and bread, and an ostrich died after being fed a nail by a visitor, as it was believed they could digest iron! One woman died from her wounds after trying to stroke a lion. Nowadays they just have the ravens here and they may bite if so inclined, but do seem to enjoy having their photo taken. Around the Tower grounds there are a number of life size sculptures to lookout for.

      THE CROWN JEWELS

      One of the main attractions at the Tower, situated in Waterloo Barracks (this has recently been re-presented and done up to celebrate the Jubilee in2012). This was the busiest part of the Tower complex and I would imagine that during peak periods there could be some queues. One of the Yeoman Warders suggested going towards the end of the day as it would be quieter, although we went about lunchtime. They have made some effort to ensure that you have something to look at as you walk through the area. Items such as Royal Gifts are here, one of the most impressive is the Exeter Salt, a 45cm high, ornate, jewel encrusted, priceless salt container given to Charles II by the city of Exeter in 1660. Most of the jewels are from this time or more recent as when Oliver Cromwell took power in 1649 after the Civil War, the original jewels were melted down or sold. A few older pieces survive such as a 12th century spoon used in Coronation ceremonies. As well as these stunning gifts (used in Coronation Banquets past), there are a number of orbs, swords and sceptres along with crowns. For the main selection on the jewels such as the crown of Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) with the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond in it, as well as Queen Mary's sceptre and imperial state crown from 1937 are in another room and can be viewed whilst riding a slow moving walkway. I think you get a better view if riding on the right hand side (the Koh-i-Noor is facing you), but if it is not too busy there is nothing to stop you doubling back and going again. The whole exhibition is fully accessible for wheelchair users and a must-see, even if there is a queue.

      THE TOWER AS A PRISON

      The area around Tower Green is where you will learn the history of those who have been imprisoned in the Tower at various times (and for various crimes). The Green is situated to the West of the White Tower and ten people (three of which were English Queens: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey) were executed here on various spots - the scaffold was erected specially, it didn't remain here as most people who were executed on Royal orders were beheaded publically on Tower Hill, or elsewhere. There is a memorial to all ten here, and you can read the names and dates. The last three were soldiers shot for mutiny in 1743.

      The first prisoner here was in 1100, and he was incarcerated in the White Tower. Beauchamp Tower off the Green can be visited, and although not a purpose built prison, housed various prisoners from the 14th Century onwards and some of the prisoners' graffiti is here and visible. A lot of Catholic priests and other potentially influential Catholics were imprisoned here under the reign of Elizabeth I to keep them in line. From here, walk towards the river and the Lower Wakefield Tower where there is a small exhibition of torture in the Tower. This may not be suitable for some younger visitors as it is gruesome by its very nature. Only some of the prisoners in the whole of the Tower were ever tortured, and the exhibition contains replica torture equipment alongside descriptions of how they were used.

      Nearby is the Bloody Tower (possibly previously the Garden Tower) which was so named because of it has been alleged (but unproven) that this was the site of the prison and murder of the two young princes (Edward V and his brother Richard). There is a room dedicated to them upstairs in this building where you can read about the case and the possible guilty parties and cast your vote (most still think Dicky III was the guilty party). Sir Walter Ralegh was also imprisoned here (for marrying one of Elizabeth I's ladies-in-waiting without the Queens' permission) and he would have been kept in some comfort. His room can be seen downstairs in the tower.

      THE CHAPEL

      The Chapel of St Peter and Vincula is across Tower Green from the Bloody Tower. Although founded in the 12th century, the current chapel is 500 years old. It is still used by the Yeoman Warders and their families. You can only access it on a Yeoman Warder tour (at the front gate) or after 4.30pm. Many prisoners executed here and on Tower Hill have been buried here. Our Warder told us that 1500 bodies were found, and that they have identified some of the significant ones which are buried 'somewhere' under the alter area such as the former Queens. You cannot take photos here.

      THE WHITE TOWER

      This is the iconic building you see so often in photographs of the Tower, and whilst it is the most significant (in that it was latter day Royal apartments, I was surprised how much there was in the whole complex, so obviously I was very much looking forward to going in here, and we left it until last. This Norman building was built partly as a fortress, partly as a Royal home and partly as a place for ceremonial functions) and is open plan, with two massive rooms on each floor, and a basement. A higher floor was added in the15th century. Inside you will see a lot of armour and arms such as a 7 foot sword of Henry V and Henry VIII's armour, with large codpiece. There are also a number of models of kings and their horses (called Line of Kings) from the seventeenth century, Henry VIII was the fattest by far, with the largest horse. There are also armour suitable for a dwarf and a giant.

      I the upper floors are not accessible for wheelchairs or pushchairs, as you can only access the other floors by stairs. The first floor was likely to be the royal apartments with the private and attractive St John's chapel located in one corner. Today the upper floors show the building's history as well as further armour and weaponry, there are also coins, ordinance survey maps (the head office was at the Tower for many years) and some interactive games for kids (including the big ones!). At the top is also a massive dragon using 2500 items that are replicas from each area/department that is represented here.

      OTHER ATTRACTIONS

      Within the Tower complex is the Fusiliers Museum. The Royal Regiment of the Fusiliers has its HQ at the Tower of London, so this is an additional free museum. It is only a small museum and features personal items used and worn by members of this regiment and various conflicts. Each war has its own display case explaining the history of the war, the weapons used etc. There are also a number of bios of heroes. Wars featured range from the Napoleonic Wars to the Crimea up to Iraq and Afghanistan. I have no real interest in military history but the museum was succinct and clear in its presentation. There is a whole room full of drawers of medals, but with no information. I would have liked to know what these medals were for. The museum should only take you about 15-30 minutes depending on the level of interest.

      FOOD, GIFTS & FACILITIES

      There are about five gift shops here, four within the grounds and one outside next to the Welcome Centre. It is worth noting that they all sell different things. I bought a pretty bracelet in the Jewel Shop (£25) but the prices vary from. There are some premium gifts like jewellery, cuff-links, cushions, scarves and china, as well as simple things like postcards, pencils and novelties. Plenty of books are available, as well as children's gifts such as games, books, cuddly toys and costumes. Shops were well-staffed and the staff seemed to be friendly and helpful based on my interaction with them.

      We ate in a sit down self-service cafeteria type restaurant called The New Armouries café, that offered a good range of food: hot meat, fish and vegetarian dishes were available. I had a vegetable and goats cheese pie with two vegetable sides (they were about 6-8 to choose from including chips, cauliflower cheese, new potatoes and a simple vegetable medley) for £8.95. My friend had a pasty. They also did cakes, sandwiches, crisps, sweets and had an interesting salad /bar. There were also a number of kiosks/carts selling drinks, ice creams and little snacks, as well as a little coffee shop with outside seating by the South Lawn. I believe food service stops about an hour or so before closure but that may depend on how busy the day was.

      There are about three sets of toilets around the complex, although we only visited the ones behind the Waterloo Block (by the exit for the Crown Jewels). They are not particularly modern, but were clean and well-stocked with paper and hand dryers. I believe there are a number of disabled toilets and baby changing facilities around too.

      SUMMARY

      I hope that my review of my day at the Tower has given you an insight into what is here and can help potential visitors plan their day. I had an absolutely brilliant day and, although tiring, it was worthwhile. The Tower is informative and interesting with it, and I think it is well worth a visit. The website said allow 2-3 hours, but we were here for six! Obviously if you were coming with younger visitors, you may prefer to see less things, but there are lots of games you can play with them such as counting the soldier sculptures or spotting the animals. Admittedly I didn't see a lot of younger visitors here, as it may be too much for really young ones to take in. However it is a super day out.

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        03.06.2010 21:36
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        The Tower of London------Kings, Queens and Queues

        The Tower of London is considered to be a must-see attraction when visiting London. Although I have visited London regularly over the last 3 years Sunday, 30 May was my first chance to see this famous site.

        Brief history:

        The Tower of London is described as the heart and soul of England. Its official name is Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, but it is more commonly known as the Tower of London and historically as The Tower. It is often identified with the White Tower, however as a whole it is a complex of several buildings built over the last thousand years set within two concentric rings of defensive walls, which in turn are surrounded by a moat.

        Going back to Roman times and beyond there were already fortifications on this site. In 1066 William The Conqueror landed in England and after beating King Harold won the crown of England. To help control London as well as England he built a new fortress, some parts of which rest on Roman foundations. The fortress became known as the White Tower. Over the following 900 years the White Tower has been extended and added to subsequently becoming a royal palace, state prison, the Mint, a record office, observatory and zoo. Today it is cared for by Historical Royal Palaces and is open all year to the general public.

        What can you see?

        Once you have passed through the main entrance at Byward Tower you are free to visit whichever parts of the attraction you like. Nearby the entrance there is a Yeoman Warder tours' site from where you can join a tour party guided by a Beefeater, who will take you on 60 minute tour of The Tower. However I had pre-booked an audio guide so I decided to discover The Tower in my own way utilising this very useful tool.

        Walking further you will see a tall wall on your left. From the stones' colour you can figure out Tower of London is not built in one day. On your right side you can see a water lane and a Traitors gate, in front of which are Bloody and Wakefield Towers, respectively.

        (1) Bloody Tower

        The Bloody Tower is the most infamous tower. It's believed the Duke of Gloucester, later to become King Richard III, imprisoned and killed his two young nephews, the princes who were the rightful heirs to the crown. Another sad story was linking with the famous English sailor, Sir Walter Raleigh. From 1603 to 1616 he remained in the tower as a prisoner. During the time he wrote the first volume of The Historie of the World about the ancient history of Greece and Rome. At the ground floor you can see what his life was like as well as the book. At the first floor you can find out more about the two young princes.

        My observations: I was shocked to hear Sir Walter Raleigh actually had a son who was born here. When I saw the pictures of the young princes in the small room, after climbing the steep stairs I felt more sad.

        (2) Queen's House

        To the left of the Bloody Tower can be seen a brown structure with white windows that is the Queen's House, which was built around 1530 with typical Tudor style, trimmed with wood. It survived the Great Fire of London of 1666 and is well preserved. Today the head of The Tower lives there and a guard is placed at the door.

        That said Henry VIII built the Queen's House for his second wife, Anne Boleyn. However she was soon afterwards beheaded by him at the Tower Green. Later, in 1608, at Queen's House Guy Fawkes was made to confess his plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament with gunpowder.

        My observations: The name of Anne Boleyn was mentioned a few times during my trip. Obviously she was a key figure in the history of the Tower. She arrived the Tower through the aforementioned Traitors gate. I supposed at the moment she would never foresee the upcoming beheading. I have my deep sympathy for her, but I don't understand her last statement before she died, in which she still wished the king controlling the country for ever. I also don't understand why the Tower let their staff live there rather than open it for public.

        (3) Tower Green

        The Tower Green is located in front of Queen's House and Beauchamp Tower. Because beheading in the privacy of the Tower Green was considered a privilege of rank, so in fact not many people were killed there except two English Queens and other five British nobles. Most prisoners in the Tower were executed in public on Tower Hill just outside the fortress. Today at the Scaffold site there is a small sculpture to commemorate the died.

        My observations: If I didn't see the grass land in person I would not believe such scary beheading happened there. I was trying to walk slowly and quietly. I also wished they have the permanent peace and the repeat happens nowhere in the world.

        (4) Beauchamp Tower

        The Beauchamp Tower stands on the west green. It was built by Henry III and his son, Edward I, but takes its name from Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, imprisoned 1397-99 by Richard II. The three-storey structure was built for defensive purposes but used often for prisoners of high rank. At the ground floor you can read prisoners' stories with their pictures. At the first floor you can see many inscriptions carved on the stone walls by prisoners.

        My observations: I heard a few sad stories about the prisoners there, but the most surprised one is about the Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen of England for just nine days from Monday 10th July 1553 to Wednesday 19th July 1553. She watched her husband go from the Beauchamp Tower to his death on Tower Hill. A few hours later she was executed on the Green and she was just 17 years old.

        (5) Crown Jewels

        Leaving Beauchamp Tower and walking upwards you can see a guard standing in front of a building called the Jewel House. It is one of the big draws at the Tower of London because there you have the chance to see Crown Jewels, which refers to the objects used by the sovereign of the United Kingdom during the coronation ceremony and at other state functions. Not only can you see the crowns, sceptres, orbs, swords, rings, spurs, and the royal robe or pall, as well as several other objects connected with the ceremony itself, but also you can watch the Queen's telly coronation ceremony. Mind you it's a working museum that means at some particular days the Queen will use her crown for opening parliament meeting every year. Every treasure there is priceless, but the most famous two are the 530-carat Star of Africa and Koh-i-Noor diamond.

        My observations: it was the highlight of my visit. When I entered the Tower I first popped over here and returned to it when I finished other sites. I was pleased to see these delicate and beautiful treasures and listen to the stories behind them. Believe or not I totally walked around the crowns for six circles because I had the difficulty to figure out Star of Africa due the shining light from these diamonds. If the staff didn't show me the closing time I'm sure I would spend more time on them. Anyway in case the staff became suspicious of my intentions I had to say goodbye to these crowns, being the last couple visitors on the day. It would be interesting to see one day somebody challenge their safety system. Don't feel nervous. This astonishing collection has been on public display at the Tower since the 17th with only one attempt to steal them.

        (6) White Tower

        Leaving Crown Jewels and walking downwards, right in the centre of the Tower, there is a high stone building, well known as White Tower due the colour. It is one of the oldest remaining parts in the Tower and was built for William The Conqueror in 1100. That marks the start of the Tower of London's history as both a palace and a fortress. Today it houses displays about the Royal Armouries' collection and the Mint history.

        My observations: Different from other towers The White Tower is a massive construction with spacious halls. To many visitors the armour of Henry VIII probably is the most impressive, but to me a small armour for child was the most unforgettable one. There are a lot of interactive activities. I tried to take a weapon and found it very heavy. It's also educative to discover the development of British currency.

        (7) The Medieval Palace and South Wall Walk

        On the opposite site of the Bloody Tower there is an entrance to The Medieval Palace and South Wall Walk, which starts from St Thomas Tower. The Medieval Palace contained fabulous interiors used by medieval kings and queens during their frequent but short visits to their most important fortress. At the South Wall you can have a look at Thames river and the Tower bridge. At the end there is a diamond display exposing more details of coronation crowns.

        My observations: Walking through narrow corridors from one room to another I was surprised to see the rich colours and comfortable furnishings in Medieval times. The re-creating Edward's dramatic bed was noticeable, but a small church inside was most appealing to me. I also enjoyed standing on the wall to watch a live show, performed by two actors in another tower.

        Above I mentioned the main sites I have seen. In fact I also visited the Royal Regimental Fusiliers' museum and watched the famous ravens at the green land in front of White Tower. The daily event I came across was about the English Civil War. It was really fascinating to see how they cooked and how they fought 400 years ago. However due the time limit I didn't come to the ceremony of the Keys that takes place every night at the Tower.

        Summary:

        I really enjoyed my visit to the Tower. It's entertaining and informative. It gave me a big picture about British history. I would like visiting it again in future.

        I also would like to recommend anybody to the Tower if you do visit London. It is open daily. From Tuesday to Saturday it opens from 9:00 till 17:30. On Sunday and Monday it opens from 10:00 till 7:30. The entrance ticket is £17 for adult, £14.50 for full-time students and senior citizens, and £9.50 for children under 16, children under five free of charge.

        Tickets may be purchased at the Tower itself, at any London Underground station or online. To save time I booked my ticket on line, but found I just spent £16. I also booked my audio guide that is £4 for adult and £3 for concessions. To have a proper visit I highly recommend the audio guide, that is the best tour guide I have used so far. It's very easy to get there: by bus, tube, taxi etc. Personally I bought Thames clippers daily ticket and got there by boat.

        There is a restaurant called New Armouries Restaurant that provides refreshments and full lunch. I had my lunch there and think it's not bad. The food was priced reasonably and cooked freshly. The service was efficient and the dining room was big enough. However better take some snack with you because it's really a tiring journey. I can't remember how many steep stairs I up and down, but I was really excited to find a bench to have a break. There also a few shops for shopping.

        At last I would like to mention the staff that work at the Tower. Most of them were really friendly with visitors, but one small thing happened at the end changed a little bit my impression. When I finished my visit at the Jewel House, I attempted to go a toilet nearby, but was told it is closed and you can go to the one near the exit. However when I reached the exit I was told by another staff that this one is closed too. At the same time I saw similar things happened with other visitors. To be honest I feel embarrassed to mention the small thing, but I was really surprised with it. I have travelled a few places in China and the UK it is my first time to experience the situation. I suppose the daily huge visitors there make them want to close the Tower as soon as possible. So it's no surprise I titled my article as The Tower of London------Kings, Queens and Queues.


        PS. It's a great challenge for me to write such a long article in English especially when it concerns a world renown historical site. I would be grateful for any help with the language used in the article.

        For more pictures please visit my blog: http://blossom-iwanttoseetheworld.blogspot.com/

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          17.05.2010 00:38

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          Brilliant way to spend a day in London

          The Tower of London was made for a really enjoyable afternoon out. After reading other reviews we had heard about the Yeoman tour, so decided to start our visit with this tour and we were not disappointed; it was absolutely brilliant. The Yeoman warder tour guide was funny, informative and answered all of our questions - and really made the first 50-60 minutes of our visit enjoyable. The tour included a visit to the Tower of London Chapel - which seemed to only be closed off unless you were with a guide. The Tower itself is a national icon; full of history and culture with each of its many rooms and buildings telling its own story. The audio tour was good and worth doing, as it keeps you occupied and interested for around 2 hours.
          Definitely do research before you go, its a lot more interesting if you understand who the people were and why the tower is important. The guidebook is also fantastic.
          If you go to London, make sure you go to the Tower!

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          15.04.2010 20:15
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          A great day out for all the family

          History is my daughter's favourite subject at school so when I was planning a short break to cheer us up, London sprang to mind and I thought that we had to go to the Tower of London.

          It can be quite expensive to get in: adults are £17, children are £9.50 (under 5s free), OAPs and students are £14.50, a family (up to 2 adults and 6 children) £47. There is a slightly discounted price if you book online in advance although this discount is only either £1 or 50p!

          ***TIP***
          If you look on the days out guide website (www.daysoutguide.co.uk), you can download a voucher which will give you two for one if you have travelled there by train. You need to show your train ticket and hand the voucher in to get the discount.

          Getting to the Tower of London is pretty easy: you can get the tube to Tower Hill (circle or district line zone 1) or it is a short walk from London Bridge or Fenchurch Street train stations (directions are given on the Tower website).

          As soon as we arrived, we had a tour with one of the Yeoman Guards, otherwise known as Beefeaters. These are free and last about 45 minutes. There was a huge crowd with the one we had and although the man had a loud voice, you needed to make sure that you were in front of him to hear everything that he had to say. I can highly recommend that you go on one of these tours and this will help you plan the rest of your visit. My daughter was particularly impressed with seeing where Anne Boleyn was executed and buried (children always like the gory stuff!).

          It is possible to get an audio guide that will give you information about the Tower as you walk around. These cost £4. We didn't get one of these so I cannot comment on how useful they are unfortunately.

          After our tour around with the guard we decided to go into the White Tower. This is where the Kings and Queens of England used to live and is an absolutely enormous and impressive buidling. It is being renovated at the moment so prepare for scaffolding and covers on half of the outside. Inside the building is housed the Royal Armouries - well, some of it as the rest of it is in the Royal Armouries in Leeds. King Henry VIII's armour was interesting to look at. There are lots of guns and swords which, to be honest, was not mine or my daughter's cup of tea, but I am sure that there are plenty of people who would be interested in this area of the museum.

          One aspect which we both liked was the bit about the Royal Mint, which used to be based in the Tower. I learned that 240 pennies made up one pound and weighed the same as one pound of silver!

          We went in to see the Crown Jewels and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were no queues (I have a lasting memory of queuing for what seemed like hours as a child). There are short films for you to watch which show the jewels and the context they are used in before you get to see the actual ones.

          After coming out of here, we went to have a look in another tower which has graffiti on the walls from the thousands of prisoners who were locked up in the tower. Interestingly, apparently only 10 people (including Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey) were ever actually executed within the Tower walls and there is a monument on the green to these people. We also visited the Bloody Tower, so named because it is where the two Princes were imprisoned and murdered. There is a display telling you more about this event in history and you are invited to vote on what you think really happened to these two boys.

          We did try to get into the Wakefield Tower where there are supposedly some of the torture devices used in the Tower (the actual torture chamber is now the gift shop in the basement of the White Tower - insert appropriate comment here!), but we couldn't find the entrance and by that time my daughter had had enough.

          We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Tower of London. There are lots of stairs to climb so it may not be the best place for people who have mobility issues. There is information on the Tower website which gives information for people who have mobility issues or are visually impaired.

          I would recommend putting aside a day to visit and have a break, a picnic or visit one of the cafes on the site before continuing your explorations.

          The website for this attraction is also well worth a look at before you go (www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon) for extra information, children's trails to print and a variety of possible itineries depending on how much time you have available.

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            02.04.2010 18:26
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            Worth visiting!

            The Tower of London is one of the most famous London attractions and a very popular one too. It is a historic fortress and the nearest tube stop is Tower Hill. It is easily accessible from all parts of London.
            It was actually used as a prison for most of its history and has held people such as Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey. It also has many other historic features with all the separate buildings being famous themselves and the Crown Jewels are here too. You will also see the famous ravens and Beefeaters here.

            Ticket Prices

            The standard ticket prices for an adult are now £17 and for under 16`s it is £9.50. There are other rates available for concessions and group discounts. You can also buy an audio tour for £4 which might be worth having but we choose to not get one!

            What is there to see and do?

            Well actually there is a lot to see here and there are many famous things and things to see here as well as the excellent history of the tower with many famous prisoners and executions.

            The Crown Jewels are one of the most famous and popular things to see at the Tower of London. The Crown Jewels at the Tower of London are actually the greatest collection of crown jewels in the world and there are 23578 amazing gems to see here! The Crown of Jewels are simply amazing and stunning when you look at them. There is a moving conveyor belt in the busiest bit of the Crown Jewels so people can't stop too long which is a great idea! There are so many fantastic gems here and they include the biggest diamonds I have ever seen! However it is quite crowded here and it is not something that lasts for that a long time as the amazement at looking at fantastic gems wears off after a while.

            When I went as well there was an activity set up in the now dried up moat and I learnt about various types of weapons and it was quite interesting! Children also seemed to enjoy this and they also talked about how you could attack the castle and the defences they had and how hard it would be to get to.

            You can also go on a tour with a Yeoman Warder (or Beefeater!) The tour is included in the ticket price and lasts for about an hour. There is a tour about every half an hour. They tell you all about the intriguing history and show you some of the famous points. All the Beefeaters have actually come from a military background and they all seem proud of the Tower`s great history.

            There are also many other various buildings you go in and learn about the history of the Tower and I think there was a section about executions and torture when I went.

            In the White Tour there is also a fantastic exhibition where you get to see Henry VIII's suites of armour and weapons and this is a very interesting exhibition. It is quite funny as well to see the size of his armour as he gets older as it increases! There is a lot to do here and it was spread out over 3 floors! This is also included in the ticket price. I think this might have changed slightly now but there is still royal armour here and I would recommend this section!

            There is also a place to eat here but I can`t comment on it as I did not go in there.

            It is very busy there as it is such a popular and famous attraction but it is still worth seeing and you just have to put up with it!

            The Tower of London lasts you a whole day really and we were there for about five hours. There is so much to see and do there that it really is worth the high price to enter and the long queues. It is a fantastic attraction with a great history and if you live near it are in London you should visit it at least once! I might have actually liked a little more time just to wander around really and see everything in lots of detail.

            Overall the Tower of London is well worth visiting!

            This review might also appear on other sites under the names ns1209 and mariofan123.

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              03.10.2009 14:44
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              A great day out

              The Tower of London: a historic fortress in central London. The nearest tube stop is Tower Hill. It's most famous part is the White Tower which is the original square tower built in 1708 by William the Conqueror. Although this is the most well known part the tower of London is actually comprised of many buildings surrounded by a moat (which is now dry but used to have water).

              It's primary function was a prison and is known to have held: Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I amoongst many others. It also has Royal Lodgings, it housed Anne Boleyn on the night before her coronation. It is also home to the crown jewels and has been the home to the royal mint.

              It is really easy to find as it is such a huge structure and is a very popular tourist attraction. It is literally swarming with people.

              We went on a Saturday and it did not take us too long to get in as there were mutliple ticket booths. We had the 2 for 1 ticket entry from the train company so although ticket prices are relatively priced (circa £15 each per adult) The 2 for 1 offer definately saved us money and was well worth it.

              We bought the guide book which was useful as it gave extra information about the exhibits.

              I think it would be busy at any time as it is such a central monument. It was annoying that it was so busy there were many 'traffic jams' on the narrow stairways - which was elevated by strange people randomly stopping on the stairs for no reason so people couldn't go up or down! (people can be so rude!)

              There were some reenactments underway when we were there which were fairly interesting but would have been of real interest to children.

              There was a very very long queue for the crown jewels but it moved quite quickly. There was a sort of moving conveyor belt past the jewels so people couldn't stop too long which was good as it annoys me when people exhibit hog. They were interesting and I also like the video of our Queens coronation that was showing as you walked through the queue to get to the jewels, all very interesting.

              If you want to see the chapel when Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey are buried then you need to go in at the alloted time with a tour guide (which you don't pay for). This is very interesting and I would recommend it. However I would have liked to actually get closer to the buriel site but this is not permitted.

              We had a tea and cake in their cafe and I was pleasently suprised as although it was relatively pricey it wasn't ridiculously overpriced as you find all too often at these sorts of venues. There were also plenty of free tables so you weren't battling to sit down.

              I found the site where Jane Grey and Anne Boleyn were beheaded really haunting but am glad I went to see it.

              This attraction is a whole day out as we were there for about 5 hours and didn't see everything. You really have to accouht for how busy it gets which means you have to queue and moving around can take a while.

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              16.08.2009 15:20
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              Undoubtedly my favourite historical building in London

              My husband and I recently paid a visit to the Tower of London and had a splendid day out. We are both interested in Henry VIII and had seen the 'Dressed to Kill' exhibition being advertised.

              First thing to remember when planning a visit is that there is a lot to see and you need a full day to truly experience the Tower. The Tower of London is always busy and expect a bit of a queue for your tickets (£17 entrance fee per adult).

              I would recommend a guided Beefeater Tour as a starting point. This takes about an hour and is included in the price of your ticket. The Beefeaters are very knowledgeable about the history of the Tower and give you an excellent overview of life at the Tower through the ages. Interestingly all the Beefeaters live at the Tower with their families. After completing the Beefeater tour I would suggest that you invest in the Audio Tour (£4 per person). The Audio Tour guides you through sections of the Tower and goes into great detail about the history of the Tower. Occasionally the Audio Tour gives you the option to see parts of the Tower that are not covered by the tour, so you simply press pause, investigate on your own, and when you are ready for the next part of the Audio Tour you press play again.

              There are 2 MUST SEE exhibitions at the Tower:
              Firstly - the Crown Jewels. Whether you are a Royalist or not you cannot but be impressed by the Jewels on display. It would be hard to describe the magnificence of some of the items. The main display of crowns is flanked on either side by 2 'conveyor belts'. You get to stand on these and drift past the crowns without having to concentrate on walking. My husband and I kept walking back round and having 'another go' until we had drifted past at least 5 times (we thought it would be wise to stop before the security people became suspicious!)

              Secondly - 'Dressed to Kill' is the fantastic exhibition in the White Tower about Henry VIII's suites of armour and weapons, from childhood to old age. It also includes a fantastic collection of horse armour. You can see exhibits and video footage about jousting tournaments. This exhibition is vast and is spread over 3 levels of the White Tower. You do not need to pay any additional entrance fee to view this exhibition.

              When you need a break from history you can have a bite to eat in the restaurant. The quality of the food is great and they have a decent selection to choose from. There are also a few gift shops around for souvenir buying.

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                27.07.2009 14:56
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                A great afternoon in London

                I've been to London many, many times, in fact I lived there for a year whilst teacher training, but I never got around to going to the Tower itself. I don't know quite why that is, as history is incredibly interesting and of course, the Tower played a huge part in the life of London and shaped the history of the UK in many ways.

                The Tower is easily accessed from all areas of London, but by far the easiest way is to get to Tower Hill tube station, or get across from Tower Bridge. I would heartily suggest trying to pick a decent day to go to the tower (if that is possible in London!), because quite a large part of your visit will be outside and you will be exposed to the elements for a large part of your trip.

                It costs around £17 to get into the Tower, which I suppose was a little expensive. Saying that though, there were quite a few other things in the capital which were much more expensive and much less important (Ripley's Museum in Piccadilly was around £27), but then there is much to see at the Tower so it really isn't too bad I suppose.

                There are many different parts to the Tower itself and a large part of the Tower is open to the public. As we walked in we joined a tour led by a Beefeater, who was able to talk through quite a number of stories about the tower itself, firstly he began by going through stories about 'Traitor's Gate', a large gate that led prisoners into the Tower from the Thames. We then saw the nicely titled 'Bloody Tower' where the two young princes were allegedly murdered by then King Richard the Third.

                The tour was well worth doing and didn't cost any more money. If you wanted to go around the Tower with an audio headset (which can sometimes be very interesting) it would cost you another four pounds. The Beefeater was very accommodating and interesting and talked us through several stories to do with the tower and it was interesting to see where the Beefeaters lived and the Ravens.

                In the Beauchamp Tower you got to see some medieval graffiti in the form of carvings that inmates had done whilst waiting to go on the rack or get their head chopped off.

                One of the main things that people go to the tower to see is the world famous Crown Jewels. To me, this was the least interesting part of the tour, although it seemed to be the most popular - having to queue to see them. They were just some crowns and jewels and stuff, not that interesting, but if you like that stuff then maybe you'll like it.

                The main tower that dates from the eleventh century contained some interesting artefacts from the time of Henry the Eighth including his armour and horses armour.

                The Tower of London was a very good afternoon's entertainment. To be in a place where so much history has taken place is quite amazing when you learn about what part it played in the history of England. I would have liked a little more time to look around in more detail, but the Tower was closing. If I were you, give yourself around three or four hours to look around the Tower in detail. A good afternoon's worth of entertainment.

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                  25.05.2009 19:30
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                  An enjoyable and educational day out

                  As we live in London there is luckilly quite a lot for us to do. Today we decided we would go and see one of the tourist attractions even though we knew it being a bank holiday, wherever we went would be packed. We decided after a bit of thought that we would try the Tower Of London this time as I haven't been there for years and boyfriend never had visited.

                  To get to the Tower Of London is fairly easy. We travelled on the tube, which is on the circle and district lines. The tube station is just across the road from the main attraction so it was easy to spot and there are signs also in the tube station to tell you the right exit. It would also be easy to get to by bus. I would not recommend that anyone would try and drive there as you would certainly have a problem trying to park.

                  The ticket offices are fairly obvious once you get there. There were only reasonably small queues which was good considering it was very busy overall. The ticket prices are reasonable for a London attraction. It was 17 pounds for an adult and about ten pounds for a child. They also had concessions for students and over 60's. If you are a tax payer you also can give gift aid and if you do that they give you a form so you can come free for the rest of the year, which is good especially if you live fairly near like we do.

                  Once you have purchased tickets you can also walk round to the entrance. Also outside the entrance is the welcome centre and also a shop. The welcome centre is where you need to go to hand in your form to get free access for a year. They also deal with memberships etc there. The shop we didn't go in but I believe it sells various souvenirs.

                  At the main gate you hand in your ticket and then they check yoour bags as obviosuly with all attractions they need to have good security. Once through the gates you are free to visit which ever parts of the attraction that you want to. There are tours that are offered. We didn't go on one ourselves but we saw a few that were walking around. These were led by the Yeoman Wardens who take you on a 60 minute tour around the grounds. These sounded very interesting and they tell you lots of stories about the kings and queens and all the people that were kept prisoner there. The Yeoman Wardens were very animated and seemed to keep the crowd enetertained. On this occasion we chose to walk round ourself but I would be interested to follow this tour another time.

                  There are various parts to the attraction. These include the Medieval Palace, which used to be a luxurious home and also has been a fortress. This includes replicas of some of the furniture and is quite interesting to see. There are various towers around the outside that you can go into. These are quite interesting as you can see all the inscriptions that the prisoners made into the walls when they were kept prisoner. It is also quite interesting to see how some prisoners had a much better time than others. There are some interesting mystery stories as well about missing members of the royal families of the past.

                  In the centre of the grounds was the White Tower. This at the moment has got the Armouries collection including the of Henry VIII. This is quite a large exhibition and you end up walking up and down stairs a lot. Ther e is a fair bit to see though and it was fascinating to learn more about the armour they wore.

                  Another main feature is the Crown Jewels, We had to queue up outside this one for a while, although the queue did move fairly quickly. Once you are inside you have to queue again for a while but then there are videos on the screen showing the Queens Coronation and pictures of the various jewels. Then you go through into the vault. There are moving walkways which you can stand on and look at all the main jewels. They are really stunning, so it is defitely worth a look but it doesn't take long to see them all once you are in there.

                  Another interetsing sight is that of the Ravens, these are really big and interesting to watch. We saw their keeper feed them eggs and was a little scary watching them eat them! It does warn you that they can bite.

                  A couple of times a day they do a show where they show how they use a big weapon. This was quite fun to watch and they got audience participation by getting people to come up and help pull the strings to shoot the weapon. It was only water baloons but was fun to watch. The two men doing the show put a lot of effort in and made it quite funny.

                  There is a restaurant and a cafe there so if you are hungry you can get something to eat. There are also a few places just outside if you don't fancy eating in there. The cafe and restaurant have got coffees, sandwhiches, salads and hot meals etc so there would be something for everyone. If you have got a picnic there were lots of benches that you would be able to eat these on.

                  Apart from the shop outside the main entrance there were also a few shops inside selling items.

                  I would say that the exhibitions all involve lots of stairs so anyone who has any problems with these might not want to choose this attraction. There are also a few parts where pushchairs need to be left outside. This would obviously mean carrying babies and small children so may be a little hard work.

                  Overall I found it an enjoyable place to go. We were only there for around 3 hours but you could probably make a whole day of it. I would prefer to go when it is a little quieter so that you can see a bit more but i would definitely visit again.

                  Also posted on Ciao.

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                  09.12.2008 23:31
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                  I loved it!

                  I have been planning to visit the Tower of London for years and until this weekend never got around to it, so for me there was a lot of expectation and I was not disappointed.

                  -Ticket Prices-
                  Adults- £16.50
                  Children-£9.50
                  Family tickets and concessions are available and you can get discount if you book online.

                  -The Tour-
                  The tour is included in the ticket price and is definitely worth joining. The tours start every half hour and last around an hour.
                  For me this was the highlight of an excellent day. The tour is given by a Yeoman Warder, who is actually a member of the military and before getting the job they have to have completed a certain amount of military service. It was very clear throughout the tour that the Yeoman Warder had a great deal of pride in the history of the tower and he was very knowledgable. Possibly more importantly for some people he was very funny.
                  The history of the tower is obviously not always the most pleasant, there were a lot of executions (although not as many as you would think) and other unpleasant bits of history but the Yeoman Warder presented the information in a way that made you laugh but at the same time didn't take away from the horror of it.
                  The tour goes around the grounds, pointing out the sites that are usually of the most interest. Obviously it's not possible to go into all of the history of the tower in one hour so it really is just the more famous points that are picked up on, for example Lady Jane Gray's execution, Anne Boleyns Execution, the disappearance of the two princes.
                  I already had a good knowledge of many of the famous prisoners in the tower but didn't know much about why the tower was built and other parts of it's history so I found it really interesting to learn so many new things.
                  If you go to the tower be sure to go on the tour. The guide is amusing, he's knowledgeable and it gives you a chance to ask questions at the end.

                  -Crown Jewels-

                  If you go to the tower of London you do of course have to see the crown jewels...just so that you can say that you did. I wasn't really that bothered about seeing them, I was there more for the history of the place than looking at a bunch of tiara's but I'm pleased that I did see them. I can't exactly say that it was enjoyable...I don't think it's the most interesting thing I did with the day but at least now I can say that I did see them. I guess it was just a little bit boring. There's only so many tiara's you can look at before they all start to look the same.

                  -The White Tower-
                  Every building in the Tower of London is worth seeing and this one is no different.
                  In the White Tower there were a number of models of the tower made at various points in history and I found this really interesting. I just liked to see how the tower has changed and what's been added or taken away.
                  There were displays from the Royal Armouries and they didn't really interest me much. I'm just not interested in that kind of thing but if you are then it's probably worth seeing. I went through this display pretty quickly because it bored me but I did think it was really good for children. There were so many interactive things to do including a number of educational games. I liked that they had activity books for children to take around the exhibition with them because it really did make it more interesting for the children (but unfortunately not for me!).

                  -The Bloody Tower-

                  The bloody tower contains an exhibition about the little princes, who disappeared after being kept in the tower and are suspected of being murdered by their uncle or Henry VII and an exhibition about another inhabitant who was poisoned. This attraction doesn't take much time, it's pretty small but very interesting and worth seeing.

                  -Food-
                  We had lunch at the restaurant which was expensive and not that great. The food wasn't awful as such, it was just very average. It reminded me a lot of school dinners. There was a good variety of food, salads, sandwiches, hot food and cakes so that was good but it was very expensive for what you got. I guess you can charge what you want when you're the only restaurant within the tower!
                  It wasn't very clean or tidy either. There was litter on the floor and the tables weren't clean.
                  The staff were mostly friendly, as were all of the staff working in all parts of the tower.

                  -Final Comments-
                  I wish that I'd had longer in the tower. We were there for four hours and it was nowhere near long enough. I didn't get to see half of the things that I wanted to see but what I did see I liked.
                  If you are visiting London then you should definitely go to the Tower and if you live in London then you have no excuse, get yourself down there! It was a great day out and if you're like me and love history you will find it very interesting.

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                    06.08.2008 02:15
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                    The Tower is one of London most popular and busiest attractions. It has been since I was a child and can remember my first visit 40 years ago. It almost seems one of those rights of passage that many years later I have returned with my own children.
                    The Tower has changed little in its fabric and structure but the attractions within have become more numerous and the quality and style of the exhibitions is hugely improved on what I recall from my childhood.

                    An essential element which has changed little is the tour by the Yeoman Guards or 'Beefeaters'. These former soldiers provide a personal guide to the Tower and I have always found them interesting and entertaining. They will show you the spot where the wives of Henry V111 were beheaded and where the bones of the Towers victims lie beneath the ground. Another essential part is the Crown Jewel displays which usually involves a bit of a wait but as there is a moving walkway you can usually move through easily.
                    In the White Tower is the armouries exhibition and includes the armour of some of Britain Kings such as Charles 1. The White Tower was begun in 1080 but was then just a wooden tower on raised earth Among the newer features are the use of costumed guides to explain hat life would have been like in the living quarters of the Tower in the 13th to 16th century. The Ravens are still at the Tower (wings clipped so they can't leave) and you can see traitors Gate which leads onto the Thames through which prisoners arrived.

                    The last prisoner to be held in the Tower was Rudolf Hess who was held there for 5 days in 1941.
                    The Tower is always busy but is open all year round. It is a fair walk round all the areas and will take you 2 to 3 tiring hours. There is a new restaurant inside but it gets packed. Better to take a picnic.

                    The cost for adults is £10.50 each and Children are £6.90 each. A family ticket will save you a bit at £31 for 2 adults plus three children. For students and senior citizens the cost is £7.90 each. This seems pricey but really the Tower is about 4 attractions in one with the Jewels, armouries, museum and chapels all to be seen. It is well worth it and it is an attraction every family should do once together.

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                      05.05.2008 13:52
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                      Worth a look.

                      The Tower of London is one of the oldest tourist attractions in London, and certainly has the most history. Kings and Queens, and torture and beheadings. All the grizzly details. Tower of London is included in the London Pass. Entry without it is around £15.00 Meet the Yeoman at the gate and be taken on a shorty histroy lesson on the tower and the many stories.
                      It's a good idea to have £1-4 in gold coins to tip the Yeoman as you leave the chapel at the Tower. This is where you're tour ends. From here visit the Crown Jewels and watch a short film of the queens coronation. The white tower old many pieces of armor, swords and guns, and many many stairs. There is a lot to see here at the Tower, and regrtfully it is not at all a practical tourist site for anyone who may be unable to take many stairs.

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                        29.04.2008 17:06
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                        A must visit historical national monument for a great educational and fun day out!

                        This past weekend we had an American colleague of ours come to London for the first time so my husband and I (we work at the same company) decided to take her around sightseeing and show her some of London. As we work quite near the Tower of London and both hadn't been here since we were kids we decided to make it our first port of call.

                        The Tower of London is situated right on the River Thames in the borough district of Tower Hamlets with the closest tube station being Tower Hill on the Circle and District Line. It was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 originally intended as a Royal Palace. It was then used as a prison with a great number of very famous prisoners, mostly kings and queens of England and the various wives of Henry the 8th. This is where the phrase "sent to the tower" comes from in terms of being sent to prison.

                        Our first stop was the ticket booth which is situated outside the tower and near the entrance. Each adult ticket was £16.50, not bad I guess but once you take a family it can get quite expensive although children's tickets are less. Children under five get to go in free, children under sixteen are £9.50 and for a family ticket (two adults and up to three children it is £46.00)

                        The opening times are as follows:

                        Tuesday - Saturday
                        9am to 5:30pm

                        Sunday - Monday
                        10am to 5:30pm

                        Just by the ticket office there are lots of fish and chips booths (for the foreign tourists) and a Subway, EAT and a Wagamama's so there are plenty of choices for lunch although there is food available inside the tower.

                        Once inside a Yeoman of the Guard or Beefeater as they are more commonly known met us and told us to gather right by the entrance as a tour was just starting. I believe this takes place every hour on the hour. Our American friend asked if she could have her photograph taken with him but he said it was not allowed at the entrance but would be allowed further on. Not too sure why this was but we didn't argue, he could have us locked up in the tower!!

                        The tour was brilliant and I definitely recommend this as your first stop because after it is over you can wander around yourself. It really is the way you will learn the most history and stories about the tower. The tour lasts for approximately forty minutes. The beefeater giving our tour was exceptional and really knew the history as I guess he really should. He himself lives in the tower with his family. (Apparently if you live in the tower there are no keys, you are given a secret password that you have to whisper to the Beefeater who is guarding the door at the time) There were probably over 100 of us in the tour so the Beefeater had to have a very loud voice which he did so it was quite easy to hear him. We walked through the tower stopping at various points for him to tell us some of the history.

                        After that our fist stop was the Crown Jewels. The jewels have been kept at the tower since 1303. They include the Monarchy's ceremonial robes and artefacts and some amazing crowns. Ladies, if you love diamonds then this is a must for you, the jewels include the enormous Cullinan I and the famous Koh-i-noor diamonds. The jewel house has moving walkways that you step on which take you past the crowns in glass cases. You can go back again and again and see them as many times as you like from any angle which we did!

                        Unfortunately by the time we had done these two things are American friend was "all castled out"!! Amazing really as the Tower of London is probably the greatest example of British monarchy in this country and an amazingly site to rival anything in America, but oh well.

                        We did manage to squeeze in some time to see the gift shop. They had a really good selection of books about the castle. I recommend the book on the Crown Jewels and at only £4 had lots of information in. If you are after more history about the tower itself look for the official Tower of London guide book.

                        The nice thing is that even though we were at the Tower for about 1 and a half hours we still saw a lot. On their website they do give you suggestions for planning your visit if you only have an hour or two to spare.

                        If you do have more time I definitely recommend the following:

                        A visit to the Chapel where Anne Boleyn is buried. Apparently she was executed on the orders of Henry the 8th because she was accused of witchcraft because she had 6 fingers on her left hand, I never knew that.

                        The Royal amouries' collection in the White Tower (there are 20 towers in the tower of London in total)

                        Take a look at the Ravens at the Tower. During the tour we were told all about the Ravens. Now I must admit that I wasn't listening completely but according to legend the tower must always house at least 4 (or 6, this is the part I can't remember) ravens. If the ravens all disappear from the tower then the monarchy will fall. TO this day they keep 7 ravens just in case. They also tell you to not feed the ravens as they only eat red meat and are quite partial to little children's fingers!!

                        All in all a fantastic day out for all the family. You can visit the website for more detail:
                        http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon

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                          08.04.2008 00:23
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                          Worth a visit at least once, but getting very expensive

                          The Tower of London is situated in the heart of London near the River Thames, and the original White Tower in the centre of the complex has been there since 1078. The site is one of Britain's most historic monuments and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

                          The Tower is open seven days a week, from 9am in the morning until 5.30 at night, with the last admission being at 5pm. The Tower opens a little later on Sundays and Mondays.

                          There are lots of different elements to the Tower of London, there is the historic castle element to look at, the Jewel Tower where the Crown Jewels are kept, the areas used as a torture chamber and prison, the ravens, a place of execution and the grounds of the building. It's certainly a place which has had a long, and sometimes grim, history.

                          The White Tower is the central block, the first to be built on the site by William I following his conquest of England. It was painted white later on by a later King, hence where it took its name from. There are also another thirteen towers which protect this one, just going to show how large the whole set of buildings and defences are.

                          The site has long been used as a prison, and was used as such in World War Two very briefly when Rudolf Hess was locked in the Tower. It is infamous for being where Henry VIII's prisoners were sent, and those of other Kings and Queens through the ages. Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII's six wives was also executed here.

                          The grounds inside the Tower are much larger than they appear from the outside and there are numerous other buildings to visit. There have been lots of changes to the site over the centuries, but the Tower of London has also housed a large zoo, been a barracks and a living place for hundreds of people. Displays detail where these areas used to be, and there are details of the archaeological digs which have taken place in the site and nearby.

                          The Crown Jewels have been held at the Tower of London for over seven hundred years, and have survived numerous theft attempts. They are an amazing set of items to go and see, with the Coronation Crown looking just amazing in its protective case.

                          Also remember to go and look at the ravens, the rumour goes that if these ravens should leave the Tower of London, then the whole of England would fall. When I was younger I always wondered why they didn't just fly away, but for the sake of England's future, they have had their wings clipped!

                          There are two other ways to get a tour of the site. You can either borrow an audio CD, which is 3.50 pounds plus an additional refundable security deposit. Alternatively you can go on the Beefeater's tours which start every half hour and last for about an hour.

                          There are also two restaurants on the site, the New Armories Restaurant (so called because it is built on an area where military arms used to be held) and there is also a cafe restaurant called Tower Wharf. These are reasonable value, but remember to visit their web-site first as they have discount vouchers to print out.

                          The biggest problem in my view is the price of the attraction, which seems very extreme. Although I understand this is a very important site, the charge of 16.50 pounds for adults and 9.50 pounds for children is a lot of money, especially for families. There is an individual annual membership of 36 pounds which is better value and also gets you entry into other Royal Palaces.

                          The reason I'm giving the site three stars out of five is because this is an important site, but it's too expensive. The attraction is likely to appeal to children only for a morning or afternoon, and it's a large cost for a few hours entertainment. However, for a site of national importance it would be a shame for people not to visit because they can't afford it.

                          It's a shame that The Tower of London couldn't get the same system as the other large museums in London, such as the British Museum or the Victoria and Albert Museum, which are free to enter because of grants which they can get from the Government.

                          Overall, it's a site which should be visited once, even though you should prepare yourself for the cost!

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                            02.08.2007 01:59
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                            Tower of London

                            The Tower of London is a fascinating, educational place to go. It has played an important part in British history, from a group of rebels besieging it during the Peasants revolt to the arrest of Sir Walter Raleigh. It's a traditional British tourist resort with family activities and events.

                            I really enjoyed it, it told every story of every event in the history of Britain. Plus when I went they had a Punch and Judy show on which really entertained the children and some adults. The Tower of London also has got a surprisingly interesting history with the animals its kept, e.g. They used to keep the first elephant in Britain, lions, leopards, and many more including flightless ravens which are still there to this day.

                            ~Things to see~

                            * The Crown Jewels
                            The jewel house is located in the Waterloo Barracks in the Inner Ward. Once you are inside you pass a series of jewels, which gives you a brief history of the crown jewels. You have to go on a conveyer belt, which takes you past the Crown Jewels, displayed in tremendously to bring out their beauty. You can also see Charles II and Mary II coronation balls, 4 of the Consort's sceptres and a number of spectacular and priceless diamonds, including the largest in the world, the First Star of Africa, which weighs over 530 carats.

                            * The White Tower
                            This is the oldest medieval building at the Tower of London, dating back to William the Conqueror's reign (1066-1087). The rectangular building now contains a vast range of Armour and weapons. The White Tower has got 3 floors and a basement, 1 of the floors being a chapel.

                            * Medieval Palace
                            The entrance of the Medieval Palace is besides Traitor's gate, the Medieval Palace consists of 3 towers, The Lanthorn Tower, The Wakefield Tower & St Thomas' Tower. St Thomas Tower during Edward I reign, it was built for 2 reasons, accommodation for the king and a Watergate, now known as traitor's gate (because of the traitor's who passed through, e.g. Anne Boleyn). The Wakefield tower is the second largest tower within the Tower of London, built in Henry III reign. It was a strong defensive tower alongside containing Henry III private bedchamber. The Lanthorn Tower was built in Henry III reign aswell, it now contains artefacts from Edward I reign. It was originally built as accommodation for the Queens.

                            * The Western Entrance
                            Built in Edward I reign, the Western Entrance is the maid entrance to the Tower and was a main part in its defence. It is joined to another 4 towers through Water Lane, the Cradle Tower, The Bell Tower, The Byward Tower and The Middle Tower. The Cradle Tower was used as a Watergate and to hold prisoners. The Middle Tower was originally a drawbridge, but now holds royal armouries. The Bell Tower's present bell date back to 1651 and has rung since then. The Byward Tower was used as another drawbridge and protection.

                            * The Wall Walk
                            The Walk is a walk on the East side of the tower, consisting of 8 wall towers including, The Broad Arrow Tower, The Salt Tower and The Martin Tower. The towers were used to hold prisoners including Sir Everard Digby, who was involved in the Gunpowder Plot.

                            * Tower Green
                            The Tower Green is surrounded by such buildings like, The Bloody Tower, in which Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned and the Princes in the Tower were held, The Scaffold Site, where Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey and others were beheaded. Also The Queens house, where Guy Fawkes was questioned and tortured, and the Beauchamp Tower, where Elizabeth I was held for 2 months during Mary I reign.

                            * The Fusilier's Museum
                            The museum holds royal guns from such wars as The Boer War, Napoleonic Wars, 1st &2nd World Wars and many others.

                            ~Other Information~

                            Opening Hours
                            Tuesday - Saturday 09:00-18:00
                            Sunday - Monday 10:00-18:00

                            How to get there
                            Trains leave Kings Cross every 5 minutes, however you need to walk a bit to get there and you need to get the bus if you get 1 of them. Go on journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk to plan how you will get there.

                            Prices
                            Adult £13.50
                            Under 16 £9
                            Concession £10.50
                            Family Ticket (2 adults 3 children) £37.50
                            Under 5s free

                            Although the prices are expensive and like most places so is the gift shop, it's a very interesting place to go. With a lot of winding narrow staircases I don't think disabled people could get around the Tower.

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