It's one of Britain’s most recognisable land marks, but here are some things you might not know about our iconic Tower.
•“If the ravens leave the tower, the Kingdom will fall…” Due to superstition dating back to Charles the Second there are always six ravens living at the Tower, there is even a spare! They all have a wing clipped to ensure they don’t wander too far.
•On 9 May 1671 Colonel Blood* attempted to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. He did this by becoming firm friends with the Jewel House Keeper Talbot Edwards, before turning on him and violently beating him so as to steal the jewels. He was caught crushing the State Crown to hide under his cloak and tried to saw the Sovereign’s Sceptre in half to carry it out in a bag! When caught he demanded an audience with the king who later pardoned Blood and gifted him £500 a year in land.
•It’s haunted. Several ghosts are said to be residents of the Tower. Henry IV, Dame Sybil – Prince Edwards nurse, and even a grizzly bear that once lived in the Tower.
It used to be a zoo. For 600 years there was a menagerie
in the Tower filled with exotic animals. The first animals there were lions, an elephant and a polar bear. The Polar bear would even hunt for fish in the Thames – but was kept on a lead!
•‘The Tower of London’ is not the Tower’s official name. The full name is: Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, The Tower of London. Not quite as catchy.
•Every evening, at precisely 9:53pm, a ceremony takes place to lock the Tower of London – the ceremony of the keys. An armed escort of the Queen’s Guards set off with the Chief Yeoman Warder to lock all the gates. This has happened every day for hundreds of years without fail. It’s the oldest military ceremony in the world.
During WW2 it was used as a prisoner of War camp. Rudolf Hess, Deputy Chancellor of Germany
was imprisoned here after he attempted to parachute into Scotland. He was free to roam around the Tower grounds.
•22 executions have taken place here. The last person to be executed here was German spy Josef Jakobs on August 15th 1941.
•The uniforms worn by the Yeoman Warders are estimated to cost over £7,000 each. It’s because they are made with gold thread. 35 Warders guard the Tower.
•Building began on the White Tower, the oldest part of the Tower of London in the 1070's.