Following the victory of William the Conqueror over King Harold’s army at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the new monarch wanted to stamp his authority on the capital.
William’s answer was to build a castle in the centre of London, bigger than anything that had been seen before in the city – in order to instil fear into his new subjects and guarantee their submission. Until 1310, the castle’s main tower, the White Tower was the tallest building in London, at 27 metres in height.
Later kings expanded the Tower of London, and it went on to serve many purposes over the years, including as a royal residence, armoury, royal mint and treasury. It was also, famously, a place of imprisonment and execution. Many notable people have been held captive in the Tower of London, including King Henry VI, King James I of Scotland, Elizabeth I and Rudolf Hess. Two of Henry VIII’s wives were executed here: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
Today, there is a lot to see and do at the Tower of London. There are the Crown Jewels, which area worn by the British sovereign during their coronation. You can meet the Yeoman Warders – also known as the Beefeaters, the distinctively dressed guardians of the Tower. You’re sure to see the famous ravens. It is said that if these birds fly away, the kingdom will fall. Therefore they are well looked after. Other attractions include the Fusilier Museum, the Medieval Palace and the Coins And Kings exhibition.