Josh and I went to the Tower of London together in the morning, before he had to go to work one day. We started off by listening to one of the Beefeaters give a tour. The Beefeaters are a nickname for the Yeoman Warders who live and are the keepers of the Tower. They have all served honorably in the military for at least 22 years.
Our guide told us some bloody stories of murder and executions that took place in the Tower over the centuries. He showed us the Bloody Tower, Traitor’s Gate, and The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, the church located just steps away from the Tower Green, where executions took place.
Executed and buried there were some famous or infamous people: Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Catherine Howard, Queen Jane Grey, and Sir Thomas More among them.
Our next stop was to The Crown Jewels. We were so pleased that the line was not very long, and we were able to move through at a very good pace. The jewels and diamonds are breathtaking, and each stone seems to have a history of its own.
While we were at the Tower, The Today Show was taping live from London. We stood in the crowd behind the opening segment as well as the interview segment with the USA Men’s Gymnastics team. I enjoyed seeing all of the TV production literally everywhere I went while I was in London.
After watching the show for a little while we visited the White Tower. Inside was a large museum of armor, artillery, the history of the Tower, and the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist.
We also visited the Torture Chamber, displaying medieval torture devices like the rack and manacles.
Josh had to go to work, but I returned in the afternoon and visited the other areas of the Tower: the various rooms where people were imprisoned, sometimes for many years. Many of the prisoners left graffiti on the walls, and some of it was very elaborate.
At some points in time the Tower was used to house many exotic animals and was the Royal Menagerie, a bit like a zoo. There were all kinds of animals, most of them given as gifts from foreign lands, and no one knew exactly how to take care of them, so some of them died from being fed objects that they obviously didn’t eat. They also sometimes escaped into each other’s areas and caused havoc. There were monkeys, lions, elephants, bears, and many other animals. They have metal sculptures around the Tower, to commemorate the animals that lived there. The London Zoo actually started with animals that came from the Tower, and has grown from there.