The Tower of London

DSC_0551-smallAfter driven by in the bus few times in our days in London, we decided to see the Tower of London on our last day in the city.

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It was a place we wanted to make sure we visited, so we did.

DSC_0329-small DSC_0340-smallThe entrance is through the Middle Tower.

DSC_0341-smallYou get to the Moat. While standing there listening to the guide talk and introduce himself, I imagined what it would have been like a nine hundred years ago.  For me it’s hard to imagine that long ago.  You know, I have a hard time remember what I did in the 70’s growing up.

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‘This Tower is a citadel to defend or command the city; a royal palace for assemblies or treaties; a prison of state for the most dangerous offenders; the only place of coinage for all England at this time; the armoury for warlike provision; the treasury of the ornaments and jewels of the crown; and general conserver of the most records of the king’s courts of justice at Westminster.’            –John Stow, Survey of London, 1598.

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The Tower of London has been all these things and more; during its long and colorful history it has changed its use and expanded in concentric rings, always with the mighty White Tower at its powerful heart. DSC_0343-smallThose narrow slits in the walls… I know what they were for.  I’m imagining what it would have been like, it seems that my life today is so much easier than back then.

DSC_0353-smallWe listened to stories.  We listened and learn a little more of England, and London’s history.

DSC_0351-smallBut oh look at these stones.  Piled, lined, laying on top of each other to build this fortress.  It always amazes me how they were able to create these huge buildings.

DSC_379-small DSC_380-smallWe had seen the Traitor’s Gate entrance the day before from the river.

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We then walked up to the Tower Green.

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Learning history of a place can’t get any better than listening a guide in the best attire, I don’t think.

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And a background like this.

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DSC_0060-smallA guard watches over the Beefeater’s residence as well as the Queen’s House.

DSC_0390-smallAnd surrounded by this amazing castle.

After visiting the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, we headed to see the real Crown Jewels in the Waterloo Barracks.  Yes, we were just standing in front of the real crown jewels, the most valuable collection of crowns, coronation regalia and jewels in the world.

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They are intricate, ornate, and represent of course, Britain’s monarchy.   We saw swords, ceremonial maces, orbs, sceptres, trumpets, rings and tunics.  Amazing.  There were no picture taking allowed in there.  So we got a postcard.

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By this time we were exhausted and filled with stories and sights of amazing beauty.

DSC_0407-smallThe guard is outside the Crown Jewels building, and I thought, ready for a picture.

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The seven captive ravens have always been at the Tower of London.  One spare, from the legend.  They said that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress.  It was Charles II, according to stories, who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower be protected.  This was against the wishes of his astronomer, John Flamsteed, who complained that the ravens impeded the business of his observatory in the White Tower.  DSC_0421-small

Today, the Tower’s seven ravens are looked after very carefully by the Ravenmaster.  They eat 6 oz of raw meat a day, plus bird biscuits soaked in blood.  They also enjoy an egg once a week and the occasional rabbit (fur included) and scraps of fried bread.

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It is massive. Historic. Beautiful. Amazing. Filled, filled with history and stories and new memories for us we will always remember.

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