The Tower of London may be best known in the public psyche as the prison of the English Kings and Queens in medieval and Tudor times, but this ancient group of buildings that started life as a Norman Castle in the 11th Century is so much more than that.
In the early part of the 13th century the tower was expanded by Henry III (mainly his regents as at the time of the building he was a new king and a child – having ascended to the throne at 9 years of age) to incorporate an elaborate new set of rooms for the Royal household. The new addition, St Thomas’s Tower, sits over what would under his son’s guidance become a gateway from the Thames and which in the 16th Century gained its more sinister name – by which it is still known – The Traitors’ Gate.
Although far from being one of his favourite palaces, he stayed there only a handful of times in his 56 year reign, it was a palace that he was known to run to in times of trouble. He stayed here in 1238 when the Barons revolted and as a result realised an inherent weakness in the defenses and so set about a major bolstering of these with the erection of the huge curtain wall we see today.
The king’s bedroom in St Stephen’s Tower has been restored to its former glory to give the visitor a great understanding of how the residential parts of the Medieval castle would have looked. They clearly show that even in Medieval times the Kings and Queens of England lived in luxury – especially if one imagines the lives of those outside the palace walls at this time in history.
The Tower is a must see for all visitors to London (click here for information about tickets).