Thames journey (3): Tower of London

Posted: November 20, 2014 in London, UK
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The Tower of London is on the north bank of the Thames between London and Tower bridges. It is a historic royal castle whose central tower dates back to the Norman conquest in the 11th century. Over time it has developed into a complex of buildings surrounded by a curtain wall and a moat. Originally built as the royal residence in London its uses have changed over the centuries. Alrhough it had held royal prisoners from the beginning of the 12th century, this became a primary function when it went out of use as a palace in the 16th century. Amazingly the last prisoners were held here in the 1950s! It has also been an armoury, treasury, menagerie, a mint and home for public records.

The blocked up entrance to the Tower from the river. Named the Traitors gate because prisoners were often brought to the Tower by boat.

The blocked up entrance to the Tower from the river. Named the Traitors gate because prisoners were often brought to the Tower by boat.

White Tower - the original Norman keep

White Tower – the original Norman keep

The curtain wall and entrance

The curtain wall and entrance

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The Tower was the site of the Royal Menagerie which was kept in the Lion Tower at the entrance to the Tower. It is believed to have been started in the 12th century by King John and continued to be housed here until 1831 when the animals were removed to Regents Park on the foundation of London Zoo. In the time of Queen Elizabeth I it was recorded that lions, tigers, wolves, eagles and porcupines were resident in the tower.

Remains of the Lion Tower

Remains of the Lion Tower

The site of the Lion Tower outside of the moat

The site of the Lion Tower outside of the moat

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