Maiko and I took the District line to Tower Hill. There weren’t a lot of people traveling in the tube with us at 2pm, and we had a lot of room to enjoy the ride.
We arrived at the Tower Hill Station forty minutes later, and took some time to snap pictures of the Tower of London from where we were across the street.
We crossed to the other side of the road using an underground passage from the station. My former student Frances was supposed to meet us at 3pm and Maiko and I had arrived just in time.
Since Maiko and I had our London Pass cards, we could get into the Tower of London for free. Frances was running late so I bought her a ticket so we could get in as soon as she got there.
Maiko and I snapped pictures of the Tower while we waited for Frances.
The skies were clear that day, but a cold wind made us pull up our collars and zip up our jackets. Frances arrived 30 minutes later wearing shorts, heels and a thin shirt—and completely unprepared for the chilly weather. She had just come down from Cambridge and up there, she explained, the weather was nice and warm.
was built by William the Conqueror in 1066. The Castle has served as a royal residence, an armory, treasury and menagerie; but it is most known for its use as a prison. Many famous prisoners are said to still haunt the place—including King Edward IV’s sons, and Queen Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded here for treason against King Henry VIII. She was buried in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, and her ghost is said to haunt the place.
Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any ghosts within the castle walls.
We entered the Tower of London at around 3:30PM.
The first thing we saw was Traitor’s gate. Prisoners were brought into the fortress by boat through this gate.
A Yeoman Warder was taking a group of people on tour and we listened for awhile before moving on and exploring the Tower on our own.
Yeoman Warder Tours
Maiko and Frances took a little bathroom break before we headed into the tower. Fortunately, Frances had brought an extra pair of pants with her. She changed into those to keep from freezing, as the wind was only getting chillier.
Tower of London restrooms (on the right side)
Since we only had less than two hours to explore, we decided to visit the Tower’s most important exhibit first—the Crown Jewels.
The line wasn’t so long and we got to watch a few short videos about the crown jewels as well as all the amazing treasures housed within the Tower London. We saw crowns used by various kings and queens on their coronation days, as well their traditional scepters and orbs. We also got to see swords, plates and various other pieces of gold items—and the biggest diamond in the world.
Pictures weren’t allowed inside, which was just as well since I couldn’t really take my eyes off of the gleaming objects within the cases.
My eyes were still blinded by the brilliance of the crown jewels when we stepped out of the building. We passed by the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum. Though we didn’t go inside, we did take pictures with the Yeoman Warders stationed outside the building.
We headed for the famous White Tower, and on our way there we passed by the ruins of the old Roman wall.
The White Tower is the old keep and the central tower at the Tower of London. While it was once a prison, nowadays the White Tower is home to the Royal Armouries.
We climbed up some external stairs to get into the ground floor of the White Tower. The Ground Floor features three major areas: The Line of Kings, The Spanish Armoury & the Small Armoury. We saw a full range of armors and weapons, including the armor worn by King Henry VIII.
Photo courtesy of DickandJanetravel.com
The Line of Kings was particularly interesting as it showcased life sized models of the horses used by each of Britain’s kings.
Line of Kings, photo courtesy of wallyg
The First Floor of the Tower contains three major exhibitions: the Royal Castle, the Royal Armoury, and the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist. We didn’t get to see the chapel, but we did see the Great rooms within the same floor.
We were fascinated by the well-preserved Norman fireplace, which was one of the earliest fireplaces in England.
We also peeked into the Normal Garderobe, which is actually a Norman bathroom. The toilet seat consisted of a wooden plank with a hole in the center. The hole emptied into a pipe through the outside wall and the muck fell straight into the moat.
Walking up more steps, we found ourselves at the topmost floor of the Tower. The exhibit there was called “Powerhouse” and featured displays that highlights the tower’s history as a royal residence, fort, mint, prison, records office, jewel house, observatory, zoo and armory.
The exhibit’s main showpiece is a 10-foot tall dragon made up of artifacts taken from parts of the tower’s history, such as imitation pieces of Jewel House diamonds and rubies placed as the dragon’s eyes, and telescopes from the observatory as its legs.
Naturally, we had to take pictures with the amazing showpiece.
After enjoying the Powerhouse exhibition, the three of us trooped back down to the ground floor. We passed by the an awesome artillery display featuring muskets and canons from the old days.
It was 5PM by the time we finished our tour. Outside, the sun was still shining brightly.
The three of us exited the tower. While Frances and I caught up with each other’s lives, Maiko went into the Tower’s shop to buy a souvenir for her nephew.
The Tower Bridge was clearly visible from where we were, so we decided to take advantage of the great view and pose for pictures.
We were feeling hungry again after the tour, so we decided to look for a place to have an early dinner. We walked down Fenchurch street, and left on Lovat Lane and found a hidden Italian restaurant called TKS.
The place was so hidden that we were the only customers for the whole two hours we were there.
I ordered a nice salmon dinner, which I though was really good.
Frances and I still had a lot of catching up to do, so I decided to drag her along one final adventure for the day to King’s Cross Station, where we would see the famous platform 9 and 3/4.
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