London Pass BlogBack to Blog
Things to do in London: Explore the terrifying and cryptic history of the Tower of London
Published: Tuesday 9th of April 2013
There is hardly a better fortress than the Tower of London and if you're a visitor looking for things to do in London, then this is a fantastic place to muse over the history of this mysterious building.
This ancient tower was built in 1066 and was erected by William the Conqueror which was originally built as a royal residence but quickly degenerated into a torture chamber for prisoners.
The colourful and varied history of this historic castle has made it something of an iconic landmark in England, which is located in the heart of the city.
Also known as the White Tower, it has played host to many unfortunate souls in times gone by and has also been home to kings, queens - and animals throughout history. Animals? Well throughout its 9,00 year reign it has served as a palace, prison, zoo and armoury over the years.
Although in many ways, it has quite a grim reputation, it really takes guests on a fascinating tour of crime and punishment, royal betrayals, activism and intrigue.
Some of the most famous characters to be incarcerated there included Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII. King Henry, who had a notorious reputation for eliminating unwanted partners, saw to it that Boleyn was beheaded, after ordering her arrest and accusing her of adultery and incest.
Anne Askew was another woman who died at the hands of Henry VIII. She became something of a martyr for the protestant religion, after being sent to the tower and tortured.
Despite her suffering, she refused to give up her religion and was later burned at the stake.
Other famous prisoners include the two sons of King Edward IV, 12-year-old Edward V and his younger brother Richard. The young prisoners were declared "illegitimate" and disappeared forever. Their uncle was crowned Richard III.
Another interesting 'convict' to emerge from the towers was a man called Ranulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham. He made himself incredibly unpopular by collecting taxes on behalf of William Rufus and becoming rich in the process.
His fortunes were short-lived however and following the death of King Rufus, he later became a hapless resident of the tower, courtesy of the deceased King's brother, Henry I.
But perhaps one of the best known prisoners is Guy Fawkes who was tortured at the tower following a foiled plot to blow up the tower.
Even the lions didn't escape captivity at the tower. Animals were often kept there as symbols of power and to entertain guests.
Over time, all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures from tigers, to kangaroos and ostriches were kept in what became known as the the Royal Menagerie.
If you're a bit of a thrillseeker with a penchant for scary stories, then you will also get the chance to hear the ghosts stories and urban myths associated with the tower.
Some of the famous resident ghosts alleged to roam the tower include cousin of James I Arbella Stuart, who is said to haunt in The Queen's House, believed to be one of the spookiest buildings at the Tower of London.
It is also thought to be haunted by a grizzly bear, who reportedly caused the demise of a guard there many years ago, who is said to have died of fright!
So if you are a braveheart who is interested in delving into the fascinating history of the tower and the way in which it influenced the lives of both royals and ordinary citizens, then this is sure to be an unforgettable visit.
Follow The London Pass blog to learn about the latest news with attractions, sights and sightseeing events in the city. As well as useful tips, hints and advice for visitors to the city and how to make the most of your sightseeing time in London. We hope you enjoy…
Thursday 20th of December 2012 Things to do in London don't get much tastier than visiting some of the capital's greatest...
Wednesday 19th of December 2012 People who have always had an interest in transport services are well catered to in London
Tuesday 18th of December 2012 The Jewel Tower is a delight for people who are into history or architecture.
Monday 17th of December 2012 People looking for things to do in London could opt for a trip to Apsley House, at one of the premier addresses in London.
Sunday 16th of December 2012 A Twickenham Rugby Museum & Stadium Tour allows sports fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the sport.
Saturday 15th of December 2012 The Orangery offers visitors an elegant lunch.
Friday 14th of December 2012 People looking for London attractions that will give them a glimpse into the life of Her Majesty should consider a trip to Windsor Castle.
Thursday 13th of December 2012 The Fan Museum is hosting an exhibition to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.
Wednesday 12th of December 2012 The Royal Air Force Museum has plenty of highlights for aviation fans.
Tuesday 11th of December 2012 The Courtauld Gallery is one of the best London attractions for art lovers.
Monday 10th of December 2012 Pollock's Toy Museum gives people a glimpse into the lives of the children of yesteryear.