13 Fun Facts about the Tower of London
It’s our third Friday the 13th this year – are you ready? This time, in keeping with our focus on England ahead of the Olympics, we’re going across the Atlantic to look at a spooky London attraction – the Tower of London. Here are some fun facts about this London landmark.
- Everyone calls it the Tower of London, but the building’s full official name is His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London.
- The Tower was founded in 1066 to cement the Norman Conquest of England and it’s actually a castle. It takes its name from the White Tower built in 1078 by William the Conqueror.
- The Tower is one of the world’s few surviving intact medieval buildings and is a World Heritage site, partly because of its ensemble of buildings dating from the 11th to the 16th centuries and partly because of its important role in British history.
- The White Tower is 27 meters above ground and is made of Caen stone imported from France.
- Geoffrey Chaucer, famous for the Canterbury Tales, supervised the completion of the Tower Wharf in 1389.
- While it is best known now as a prison, the Tower of London was primarily a royal residence until the Tudor period.
- Several members of the British Royal Family were imprisoned there including the Princes in the Tower and Elizabeth I.The Tower was also used as a holding pen for nobles and others suspected of treason.
- Over 400 years, 112 people were executed on Tower Hill, with only 7 executed within the Tower walls.
- The Tower hasn’t only housed princes and prisoners; it has also been used as the treasury, an armoury; the Royal Mint, a public records office, a menagerie and to house the Crown Jewels.
- The Tower Menagerie closed in 1835, with all animals moved to the new London Zoo in Regent’s Park.
- The Tower was used as a prison in World War II; subsequent to that two London criminals were held there in the 1950s.
- The Tower of London has been a tourist attraction since Elizabethan times and the Crown Jewels have been on display since the late 17th century.
- Several ghosts are said to haunt the Tower, including those of Anne Boleyn, Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, Margaret Pole, the Princes in the Tower – and a grizzly bear!