The Tower of London was where we headed on our first full day in London.  In doing family research I found that my mother had relatives on both sides of her family imprisoned at the Tower.  I was hoping going here didn’t awaken some latent genetic desire to overthrow a monarchy in her.  (Try to overthrow the monarchy – be bad at it and get caught – get executed and have your family in disgrace – be descended from the female side of the remaining disgraced family who are able to find anyone to marry them at all so you eventually fall into poverty – and that’s why you head to the colonies as soon as they open for business and I’m American instead of in line for the throne in England.)

The Tower is a huge place with a lot going on.  We went first thing in the morning so we could take our time and not feel rushed.  We used our London Pass to get in.  There is an audioguide available for £4.  This was the only place we went where the guide wasn’t included in the ticket price.

A view of the Tower from outside

One of the first things that you see is the Traitor’s Gate. I’ve read enough historical fiction to know that this is where the prisoners came into the Tower. We paused here to see if my mother was going to be revealed as some sort of sleeper agent but she was fine.

If you are bad enough you get your own entrance from the Thames.

There is so much to see here that you really have to use the map to make sure you aren’t missing anything.

The Tower Green is the central area. This is where executions happened if the prisoner was so high profile that going to the regular place outside on Tower Hill was going to cause too many crowd control problems. The Green is surrounded by former Royal residences and homes of the current commanders of the guards and other Tower officials.

Guarding the boss’ house

The Yeoman Warders are military veterans who work here and live onsite with their families. (Read more about it – The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise) You can see a lot of their houses from the Wall Walk.

These are some sassy gnomes!

The Crown Jewels are on display here. You can’t take any pictures. This is a very crowded area so try to hit it at a time when there aren’t a lot of tour groups going in.

The Line of Kings is billed as the world’s oldest museum display. It shows armor and weapons throughout British history.

I just paid attention to the horses.

There is a dragon!

I always knew there had to be dragons in Britain!

We were so excited that there was a dragon that it wasn’t until we read the sign that we realized that it is made entirely of weapons. He has chain mail and shields and helmets. His toes are pistols.

This is my favorite museum sign of the trip.

I call this one “Sore Losers.”

I read it, pointed it out to my mother, and backed away slowly and tried not to be obviously American until I was a safe distance away.

Plan on 3-4 hours at least to visit the Tower especially if you are listening to the audioguide. We took time to sit on benches and listen to get a lot of the history.

Getting Here

Tower Gateway stop on the District or Circle lines of the Underground

Things To See

The Crown Jewels

The White Tower with displays of armor and coins

Tower Green where high profile executions were carried out

The Ravens – While the ravens are at the Tower, it will not fall

Royal Residences

Exhibits on Torture, the ravens, and the former zoo. The zoo one was closed when we were here and I was very sad.

More Info

The Tower’s website