Today was all about the London Tower! Well, okay not ALL about the London Tower, but a good portion about it. Let me start again… Today was majorly about the London Tower!
Once we arrived at the Tower we walked all along Battlements, which are basically the walls of the Tower complex. Here they have some of the original living areas from built for Henry III. There’s a replica of what a bed chamber and small chapel would have looked like back in the day. The day being the 13th century.
Other areas in the battlements tell you about graffiti scratched into walls by prisoners, weapons and fighting, an old throne room, meeting room, artifacts, royal animals, etc, etc. And it hosts amazing views of the surrounding area, including the Tower Bridge.
Animal side note: The kingdom was given a lot of animals over the years from other kingdoms. This included a polar bear from Norway. They used to let the polar bear fish and swim in the Thames River; it was still chained up of course, they couldn’t risk a rogue polar bear wandering the streets.
They had an area that showed replicas of crowns from over the years. At first we thought these were the crown jewels, however that is incorrect as the crown the jewels have their very own special area. Everything in there is so sparkly! I’ve been mulling it over, and I think I’d look amazing in the coronation crown.
We did get to see the Queen’s Guard standing outside the building that housed the jewels. It was interesting that the two guards looked so young. Also, we could not figure out the schedule for them moving and marching. It seemed like they would just stomp their feet sometimes for no reason, or march around a bit at some random time. They are tricky, these guards, making it so we can’t plot their movements. Very clever indeed!
The Tower always has at least six captive ravens living on the premises. There is a superstition that if the ravens left the tower the crown would be in danger. We got to see a couple of the infamous tower ravens up close; they were fighting over a discarded meat pie. One lady got a little too close to the action and was pecked in the leg by one of the ravens. And those suckers are big! (The lady was unhurt, and the non-attacking raven ended up winning the meat pie when the raven that attacks was busy scaring a pigeon away from the bounty. I knew you were curious, so I thought I’d just tell you before you had to ask.)
We went into the White Tower next, the first floor has a collection of armor, the second has a collection of weapons. But the third floor has a dragon!
Honestly, it wasn’t as cool as we expected it to be. We agreed that we’d want to know more about the people that actually lived in and used the tower. I mean it was built in 1078, there should be some amazing history there.
We did get to see a toilet thought, which was as fascinating as it was disgusting. The hole just led to the outside of the building, so whatever went down the toilet just fell from the walls to ground. You may think that is disgusting, but they did make sure all toilets were on the backside of the castle where people didn’t walk, thus reducing the risk of being hit by any falling excrement. It’s a land of gentlemen, it is!
Next up was the Bloody Gate and the exhibit on the torture in the tower. This exhibit was a lot smaller than I thought it would be; we feel that they might have been down playing the whole torture thing a bit. I guess it’s not something you really want to advertise, but it is an interesting piece of antiquity. I don’t need gruesome details, just a little bit more history.
After the Tower, we headed next door to the Tower Bridge. Because the Tower Bridge resembles the Tower of London, and since they are so close, many people think that they were built at the same time. Actually, the Tower Bridge wasn’t built until the end of the 19th century, it was just built in the style of the Tower of London, because even back then people thought the Tower of London was cool.
We did the Tower Bridge Exhibition, which allowed us to walk across the upper supports of the bridge. There are glass panels in the floor, so you could look down and see the cars below. Or flashes death by falling through a broken glass floor panel. I know they say each panel can hold the weight of 6 elephants, but I don’t think its ever been tested, so I’ll play it safe for the time being.
We also got to see the engine room that had the old steam equipment that was originally used to raise and lower the bridge.
From there we caught a cab to the Ten Bells Pub. This pub has association with two of Jack the Ripper’s victims…supposedly. Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly were both known to frequent the bar… supposedly. And it was the last place Annie Chapman had a drink before being murdered… supposedly.
Next stop was a quick nip in for some candy at Hardy’s. I don’t know if the description of Honeydukes is based on Hardy’s, or if Hardy’s is based on the description of Honeydukes, but either way, its adorable!
Then we stopped by the pharmacy because I’m getting yet another cold. I blame it on foreign germs, I don’t think it has anything to do with how cold its been, or not getting enough sleep, or the busy schedule. Nope, its all about the foreign germs.
We ended our day at the Leadenhall Market. Which is a beautiful covered market area! It’s so beautiful in fact that they used it as a set in Harry Potter. The door below is the front door of the Leaky Cauldron!
We also had dinner at Pizza Express. We have seen no less than 387 Pizza Express locations on our wanderings. They are housed in everything from buildings older than the Tower Bridge, to modern high-rise buildings. It just seemed like something we needed to do while we were here.
We decided to head back to our flat via the Tube, but first we had to find the station. We were once again standing on the street corner, staring at a map, looking confused when a friendly Londoner stopped to ask if she could help. I tell you, these people are the best! We told her we were looking for the Tube station and she walked us right there. We chatted about the crazy cold weather, her brother who lives in Michigan, a little bit of politics, and the history of the area. I like to think we parted as friends.
All in all, another great day in London!