Between yesterday’s royal baby arrival and next month’s royal wedding, I might as well throw a continual afternoon tea party for the next three weeks!
HELLO, ROYAL FEVER!
But since a three-week-long tea party is “unreasonable” (Hubby’s words, not mine) and a last-minute invite to Prince Harry’s nuptials unlikely (rude), I’m left trying to soak up as much Britishness as I can from my couch at home.
Which leads me to today’s post.
There are few spots more quintessential with the British Royal Family in London than the infamous Tower of London. While the Royal family has long since abandoned this historical spot as it’s residence, it currently houses the crown jewels and some of the British monarchy’s most infamous moments.
The Tower of London is, in the truest sense, LIVING HISTORY. History you can touch, smell, see, and hear.
And every time I’ve visited London I always visit the Tower of London.
It doesn’t matter how many times I take the same tour or walk the same path, I ALWAYS learn something new.
Just think, in this ONE SPOT over 1,000 years of momentous, famous human history has occurred. The historian in me gets giddy just thinking about it (and the anglophile? Well, she goes NUTS). I always feel amazed, inspired, and awed by the Tower of London.
It’s a place I firmly believe everyone should visit in their lifetime (even if it isn’t free to get in like so many of London’s famous museums).
And in view of yesterday’s royal birth and next month’s royal wedding, it’s about time I shared these shots from my last trip to London in 2016…My favorite way to approach the Tower of London, perched along the Thames in the old ‘City of London’, is to cross over the Tower Bridge from the south bank.It’s one of London’s most iconic bridges — just be careful! Last time we were here Hubby actually helped chase down a thief stealing a woman’s scarf so I think pickpockets do tend to target people here.
Keep your eyes open and your bag tightly strapped to you and you’ll be fine. The photos will be worth it!Once you get to the Tower of London itself, you feel yourself instantly falling back in time.Despite being surrounded by skyscrapers (the Tower of London is now situated in London’s main financial district), it captivates you with its quiet, medieval walls.Built in 1066 by William the Conqueror, this is one of the most intact medieval buildings you can find in all of England.I really never mind paying an entrance fee for a place like this since they obviously spend an enormous amount of money up keeping the buildings and the grounds.
Which are incredibly photogenic.If occasionally a little crowded.There’s also a splendid view of the Tower Bridge from inside the Tower of London — walk up the steps to the Bloody Tower and you can’t miss it!And while everything is incredibly momentous and photogenic…(not to mention beautifully decorated)There’s also a lot of not-so-beautiful history here too.For example, here is the Church of St Peter ad Vincula which houses the remains of several famous people who were beheaded on the Tower grounds, the most famous being Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn.
Now, on the same spot where so many famous people were beheaded, there is a memorial with their names and a glass pillow.
An ethereal homage to the Tower’s bloody political past.Over its lifetime the Tower of London has been many things: an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, and a public record office.
But perhaps it’s most famous use now is to house the Crown Jewels of England, one of the world’s most famous jewelry collections. Rumored to be worth over $20 billion, the collection includes some of the most magnificent pieces ever created including the coronation jewels and Queen Victoria’s famous “mini” crown.Sadly (or happily depending on how you look at it), there are no photos allowed in the rooms the jewels are kept in.
There are guards posted everywhere to remind you of that too.
It really is something you have to see for yourself!But if I had to name one reason to visit the Tower of London besides the crown jewels, it would be for the photo opportunities. It’s easily one of London’s most photogenic spots!Everywhere is picture perfect. I love how much old and new mingle together here — history and modernity clashing into a brilliant landscape found only in London.A beautiful allegory for modern London itself.And a true icon of England’s history. While you’re there, make sure to take a tour with one of the Tower’s resident Yeoman. Often nicknamed “Beefeaters” (though don’t call them that!), the yeoman are ceremonial guardians of the Tower and the Crown Jewels. There have been only a handful of them in history and each is taught the inner secrets of the Tower.
Plus the only way you’re allowed to enter the Chapel where Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas More are laid to rest is to go on the yeoman tour so don’t skip it!While we were there, my Mom posed for a photo with our yeoman guide while holding a photo of my Nana with a yeoman at the Tower in the 70s.
Talk about starting a family tradition!
There have actually been so few yeoman in history that the present yeoman were able to identify the yeoman in the photo with my grandmother. How cool is that? It really is so incredible to just walk around the ground of the Tower and breath in the history, both modern and medieval.I can only imagine the stories these walls would tell if they could… Everywhere you look there’s something interesting or exciting. And the opportunities for photos (outside of the Crown Jewels of course) are endless. Shooting here always makes me feel like I need to shoot more medieval spaces. There is just something so haunting about them.And don’t forget to shoot the famous ravens — six ravens are kept on the property at all times in accordance with the belief that the kingdom will fall if they ever leave the Tower grounds.The Tower also has some fabulous indoor exhibits throughout its various buildings which are always worth visiting too.
Hubby’s favorite being the armory…And mine being the gilded throne room…with all its symbolic decor,and stunning stained glass windows.The Tower of London is without a doubt one of the most interesting and beautiful World Heritage Sites in the world and, most certainly, in England.
It’s a place where the rich, dense, often bloody history of England meets modern London. And shouldn’t be missed the next time you find yourself across the pond!