Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Tower of London

The Tower of London:
On Monday I visited the Tower of London for the fourth time with a a friend. I must confess I have a strange fascination with the tower. Perhaps it’s because it’s a huge medieval castle in the middle of the city or because of it’s bloody ‘off with your head’ history. My favourite parts are:

The White Tower: -
I just couldn’t stop taking photos of it. The White Tower is the oldest building within the tower’s walls and was begun in the reign of William the Conqueror. Between 1190 and 1285, the towered walls and moat were constructed circling the tower. It reminds me of the towers and castle I’d only ever seen in Fairy tales.

Traitor’s Gate: -
Traitor’s Gate was the water entrance to the tower and was used to bring famous or important prisoners such as Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I) along the Thames, passed the spiked heads of traitors and into the Tower’s walls. Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s ill fated second wife was brought by barge into the Tower through traitor’s gate first for her coronation and then to await her execution.
The timber framing above the archway was constructed in 1532 as part of a rush to renovate the Tower for Anne Boleyn’s coronation in 1533.

The Queen’s House: -
The Queen’s House is another part of the tower that I couldn’t stop taking photos of. Built in the 1530s in preparation for Anne Boleyn’s coronation, it is also where she was held prisoner for 18 days before her execution. The Queen’s House was also used to interrogate Guy Fawkes and it was here that he signed his confession. The Nazi leader Rudolph Hess was also imprisoned here.

Tower Green/Memorial: -
This was the place where the beheadings of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey took place away from public view. It’s just fascinating to me that I was standing in the spot where 473 years ago three of England’s illfated Queen’s lost their lives - two of whom were Henry VIII’s wives and one who was only Queen for nine days.
There is no evidence of the green’s bloody history, just the beautifully created memorial, created by Brian Catling, holding each of the victim’s names. Carved into the memorial is this passage: Gentle visitor pause awhile, where you stand death cut away the light of many days, here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life, may they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage, under these restless skies.

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