Tower of London

The Tower of London is just a 20-30 minute walk away from our Shoreditch apartment, not far from the Osborn St end of Brick Lane. We walked there following a leisurely morning stroll through the Brick Lane Sunday market. The ticket queue we chose to stand in was painfully slow. We discovered why when we eventually reached the ticket box and met a very friendly young lady who basically wanted to hold a conversation with everyone she sold tickets to. She was lovely, but we probably could have been inside about fifteen minutes earlier if we had chosen a different ticket queue.

We were told there would be a 40-minute wait to see the Crown Jewels, so that’s where we headed first. The queue was really long, but it did keep moving and that kept us happy. The fact is, however, that we were in the queue for exactly an hour before we eventually laid our eyes upon the fabulous jewelled crowns worn by some of the kings and queens of England. In order to give everyone an unhindered look at the coronation crowns, we had to get onto a fast-moving walkway that carried us relatively swiftly past each crown and on to the next. Blink and you would miss it. Please note that the text continues after the next set of photos.

There was plenty to see around the historic site. We walked up onto the palace wall (yes, it was once the royal palace) which took us into rooms in several towers to view displays. They ranged from the room where Sir Walter Ralegh was imprisoned for over a decade, to the room which focused on the wild beasts kept at the tower and the room which detailed how the tower was used to aid Britain during World War I. We paused to read the names inscribed on the monument to some of the important people who were executed in full public view on what, today, is a lawn. Ann Boleyn’s name, of course, was listed there.

Spread out across the site, presumably where they once had been kept by previous rulers, life sized wire sculptures of wild beasts were on display in lifelike poses. It’s amazing to see what you can create from wire. Please continue reading after this small set of photos.

We entered the White Tower. This structure is over 900-years old. It houses the royal armouries. We saw large and small suits of armour, some reputedly belonging to famous kings, and all types of weaponry, including some captured by the English during wards. Perhaps the most remarkable suit of armour there reputedly belonged to John of Gaunt, who was apparently a man of very tall stature. The most gruesome implement on display was surely the sharp-bladed axe and wooden block, used in the beheadings. The descent from the top level of the White Tower was by means of a long, narrow winding spiral staircase. More text follows the set of photos below.

Not too far from the Tower of London, just a short walk, is the Tower Bridge. We didn’t cross it, or even visit it, but we had a good view of it from the exit to the Tower. Of all of London’s bridges, this one was undoubtedly the most impressive.

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