It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Tower of London

Aerial view of the Tower of London - you can walk around atop the Tower walls

Last time I was in London I braved the biting cold and long lines to head down to the Tower of London for a look around.  I've been there before and I really enjoy wandering around in so much history.

The Tower of London is part of the Historical Royal Palaces (Hampton Court, Kensington Palace etc.) and the entry price is a wee bit steep I think at £21.45/adult - but they're very cheeky as they include in that price a "voluntary" donation of £1.95 in that price.  If you buy your ticket on the day at the Tower, you can ask to not include the "voluntary" donation and your ticket price will be £19.50.

I'm all for roof and masonry repairs, and opening up more of the Tower to the general public, but over 2 million people visit the Tower each year, and I think £19.50 is quite pricey enough per person without gouging another £1.95 from each person that walks through the gates.

Anyway, boring pricing details out of the way, the Tower is fantastic.  It's well worth a visit, just for the chance to be around so much history.  I'm a big fan of Royal history and the novels of Philippa Gregory, and it feels such an honour to be able to walk in the same steps as Henry the Eighth and William the Conqueror.

Traitors Gate - the Tower used to be surrounded by a moat and small boats could be rowed through these gates.

This time I joined in one of the amazing free Yeoman Warder Tours.  You can join one of the brilliant Yeoman Warders (popularly known as Beefeaters) for a 45-60 minute walking tour of the Tower - my guide was great, a real showman, and he had so much information on imprisonment, execution, torture and much more.  The Yeoman Warders live with their families within the walls of the Tower - if you look carefully you can see their homes as you walk around on the tour.

You can also visit the Crown Jewels, the Ravens, the Bloody Tower, Beauchamp Tower, the site of the Scaffolds (yurk!), White Tower, Fusilliers Museum and the Traitors Gate.  You can spend a day here without too many problems; there are cafes and places to sit for lunch.

I caught the bus there and the tube back.  The District and Circle Line tubes stop at Tower Hill station and, surprisingly, the Tower is just across the road - easy peasy.

Amazing life sized statues of lions made from chicken wire near the entrance.  Lions, tigers, eagles, owls, elephants and even kangaroos have lived within the walls of the tower since the early 1200s. 

The Tower of London

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