The legend goes that if there are fewer than 6 ravens living at the Tower then the country will fall. The origin of this is unclear. Some writers have suggested that it was created by Charles II in order to resolve a dispute he had with astronomer John Flamstead, whose observatory was in the White Tower and who had complained that the Ravens obstructed its work. Others have suggested that it is a Victorian ‘flight of fancy’. Like the origins of the legends it is is also unclear exactly how the Ravens came to associated with the Tower.
Ravens have been dismissed from service and retired for unbecoming conduct and a few have gone missing despite having their wings clipped. These days the Ravens at the Tower are from a captive bred stock and the current roster stands at 7 – the six required to fulfill the requirements of the legend and a spare, just in case.