The Tower of London – London

The rain had cleared and the sun was shining for our visit to the Tower of London with Glen and Jo who were coming up on the train from Brighton. We met them at the London Bridge Station and wandered towards the Tower.

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The Tower of London is marking one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War with the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red art installation. 888,426 ceramic poppies were made and placed around the Tower of London between the 17th July 2014 when YS Crawford Butler, the longest serving of the Tower of London’s iconic Yeoman Warders, planted the first of the ceramic poppies. The exhibition was opened to the public on the 5th August which was the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. The last of the 888,246 ceramic poppies, each poppy representing a British military fatality during the war, was planted by a 13 year old territorial cadet at 11am on the 11th November – Armistice Day.

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Each poppy was sold to members of the public for £25 with 10% plus all net proceeds being shared between six service charities.

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There were lots of people queuing around the outside of the Tower to see the poppies – about 5 million people will see the exhibition by the time is finishes. We had tickets to go into the Tower so we went in and joined a tour with one of the Yeoman Warders – he was a Welshman with a very good sense of humour. Unfortunately the queues to see the crown jewels and the White Tower were extremely long so we opted to go and have some lunch at Butlers Wharf. We went to a lovely Italian restaurant called Cantina.

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As we walked along Butlers Wharf we saw this amazing super yacht moored in the Thames – it was very impressive and we were wondering who it belonged to. Glen googled it that night and sent me the article that had been in The Standard.

The article read as follows….
A super-yacht boasting its own helipad and worth around £70 million has been seen moored on the River Thames. The Kismet has six bedrooms, a private sundeck, a swimming pool and is around 300 feet long. It belongs to Shahid Khan – one of the richest men in the world and owner of Fulham FC. The boat was seen making a brief stop by Tower Bridge before travelling further along the Thames. It is thought Mr Khan has brought the yacht to London to watch his other team the Jacksonville Jaguars play the Dallas Cowboys at an International Series game on Sunday. A silver jaguar could be seen attached to the bow of the ship confirming this.

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It was so nice to spend the day with Jo & Glen and London turned on the weather for us. After waving Glen & Jo off we headed back to the hotel for an early night – it had been a busy couple of days : )

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The Tower of London
Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 (Ranulf Flambard) until 1952 (Kray twins), although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.

The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. From the early 14th century until the reign of Charles II, a procession would be led from the Tower to Westminster Abbey on the coronation of a monarch. In the absence of the monarch, the Constable of the Tower is in charge of the castle. This was a powerful and trusted position in the medieval period. In the late 15th century the castle was the prison of the Princes in the Tower. Under the Tudors, the Tower became used less as a royal residence, and despite attempts to refortify and repair the castle its defences lagged behind developments to deal with artillery.

The peak period of the castle’s use as a prison was the 16th and 17th centuries, when many figures who had fallen into disgrace, such as Elizabeth I before she became queen, were held within its walls. This use has led to the phrase “sent to the Tower”. Despite its enduring reputation as a place of torture and death, popularised by 16th-century religious propagandists and 19th-century writers, only seven people were executed within the Tower before the World Wars of the 20th century. Executions were more commonly held on the notorious Tower Hill to the north of the castle, with 112 occurring there over a 400-year period. In the latter half of the 19th century, institutions such as the Royal Mint moved out of the castle to other locations, leaving many buildings empty. Anthony Salvin and John Taylor took the opportunity to restore the Tower to what was felt to be its medieval appearance, clearing out many of the vacant post-medieval structures. In the First and Second World Wars, the Tower was again used as a prison, and witnessed the executions of 12 men for espionage. After the Second World War, damage caused during the Blitz was repaired and the castle reopened to the public. Today the Tower of London is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. Under the ceremonial charge of the Constable of the Tower, it is cared for by the charity Historic Royal Palaces and is protected as a World Heritage Site.

About SUNGRL

This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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