Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tower of London

by Mackenzie Theis

A view from the outside of the Tower including the wall that surrounds the Tower and grounds.

The Tower of London, founded in 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest, is a Castle known by many as the home of the famous Henry the VIII and his many wives. Named after the large White Tower, built by William the Conqueror in 1078, the grounds and buildings surrounding the White Tower span over 12 acres. 

The White Tower

As the royal castle it was used as the residence of many Monarchs and later held the reputation as an infamous prison that housed some of the more high-status criminals who were often kept in comfortable conditions. One example is Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry the VIII, who was later executed on the tower grounds. For centuries the Tower has housed the Crown Jewels, which can be viewed when visiting the Tower. Today the Tower is still officially a royal residence for Her Majesty the Queen, but has not been used as such for many centuries, and has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in London.

In order to fully understand the Science aspect of our trip, we needed a historical background to set the stage for us. The Tower was our second stop on Sunday, after we were able to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace. I was extremely excited to visit and looked forward to seeing the notorious Tower in person and learn some of its more extensive history. The Tower stands out from the other buildings around it and is a true historical landmark. From the outside the Tower looks like a formidable fortress, but once you enter you are transported back in time, from the uneven stone roads throughout the Tower grounds to the white stone castle itself. As a class we went on a guided tour lead by one of The Beefeaters, who guard and live on the Tower grounds with their families. After the tour we went through the inside of the buildings on our own and could take our time looking through some of the buildings that make up the famous Tower of London. Some of which were The Bloody Tower, where the notorious murders of two Princes in the Tower is said to have taken place, the White Tower, which now houses much of the armor and weapons of the time, and the Jewel House which is home to the Crown Jewels. 

Some of the armor that was worn by Henry the VIII. The hand holding the camera is a later addition.

Throughout the grounds of the Tower life-sized exotic animals constructed out of chicken wire can be found. The animals represent the menagerie of creatures that once lived at the Tower which were gifted to the kings, such an elephant, lions, a polar bear, and baboons. It is said that the roar of the lions could be heard from outside the tower and symbolized the power held by the royal family. 

The representation of three lions that are said to be gifts to King Henry III, which are just outside the castle walls.

Overall this was an amazing experience, a site that I would not hesitate to visit again. I would recommend this to anyone who is visiting London or hopes to do so in the future. 

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