Tower of London - Crown Jewels
See the world-famous Crown Jewels and meet the Beefeaters on a tour of the highlights at the Tower of London with The London Pass, plus access to 80+ London attractions
The Tower of London is one of the world’s most famous fortresses and has seen service as a royal palace, prison, armoury and even a zoo. The ancient stones hold within them dark secrets. Their fortified vaults shine with priceless jewels. And historic uniformed Beefeaters stroll the grounds. Situated in Central London, just a stone’s throw from the River Thames, the Tower of London is one of the city’s premier attractions.
- — Rich history dating from the Norman Conquest
- — It has undergone amazing restoration over the centuries, including repairing damage taken from the Blitz
- — Used by Royals through the years as a refuge and powerbase
- — The Tower is still home to her Majesty’s Crown Jewels, on display for visitors to see
- — The Beefeaters are tasked with the job of guarding the jewels, as well as acting as tour guides for the attraction
Tower of London History
Fortress, prison, royal mint and now a tourist attraction - the Tower of London has seen many lives over the past centuries and persists this day as a powerful symbol of British heritage. Although the permanent fixture on London’s skyline seems to have been there forever, the question of why and when was the Tower of London built still prevail to this day.
This iconic historical site started off life as an imposing river fortress for the formidable force that was William the Conqueror, dating back to the 1070s. In the 1200s, the Tower was expanded by King Henry III and Edward I - adding a moat and more defensive structures to prepare for the possibility of battle.
It famously became one of the most secure places in the country after it was appointed the home of the Tower Mint in the 1800s. All the money in the nation began here. Shortly after, the Royal Family also began storing its most precious jewels and possessions under the eye of some of the most powerful soldiers in British history - the Yeoman Warders. The warders have lived there since the 1500s and now serve as kindly tour operators.
The Tower has also famously been the site of many high profile executions, the chopping block for which still stands on the grounds to this day. King Henry VIII famously had his wife Anne Boleyn executed there three years into their marriage on the grounds of adultery and treason. She was buried at the Tower’s Chapel Royal alongside her fellow queens, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey. However, rumour has it that she continues to haunt the execution grounds and unwitting tourists.
Tower of London facts:
- — There are 12 acres of land within the walls
- — When it was built, it was initially resented by the people of London as a symbol of oppression by the new ruling forces
- — It has been used as an armoury, a menagerie, a treasury and a prison
- — The term ‘sent to the Tower’ was coined during the 16th and 17th century when those who had fallen into disgrace were sent there
- — The prisoners entered through the water gate, called ‘Traitor’s Gate’
- — The White Tower is a fortified tower, called a keep and houses the crypt of St John’s Chapel
- — The Tower is said to be haunted by the ghost of Anne Boleyn walking the chapel of St Peter and Vincula
The White Tower
This Tower was referred to by Shakespeare in many of his plays and stands as one of the most famous keeps in the world. It contains the impressive Royal Armouries collections and even an 11th-century Romanesque chapel. You can take daily tours of the White Tower at 10:45, 12:45 and 14:15.
The Royal Mint
Explore the Coins & Kings exhibition which depicts the story of the Mint at the Tower between 1279 and 1812. Learn about what life was like on Mint Street through outdoor installations and interactive displays, even fun facts about Isaac Newton and his thief catching skills.
Take a walk through history and learn about some of the most important symbols of our culture and monarchy. Try and count the 23,578 gems that make up the Crown Jewels and marvel at the stories of how the collection was nearly destroyed through history. You can even see the crown Elizabeth II wore to her coronation!
For 600 years the Tower was kept as a menagerie of wild and exotic animals; gifts that the King and Queen were donated by their visitors and admirers. Everything from ostriches to elephants, lions and polar bears were kept in the confines of the Brick Tower.
If the six resident ravens ever leave the court, legend has it that the court and the Tower will fall. The ravens who inhabit the Tower are named and are replaced if they misbehave! Currently, the Tower has seven ravens, in case one goes missing, and they are looked after by the Raven Master. A word of warning: don’t approach the ravens as they’re known to eat 170g of raw meat a day, as well as blood-soaked bird biscuits!
Yeoman Warder Tours
Present-day Yeomen Warders only qualify for the role after serving in the armed forces for 22 years. But have you ever wondered where Yeomen, aka Beefeaters, got their name? Centuries ago, as part of the Royal Bodyguard, they were allowed to eat as much beef as they wanted from the king’s table.
Tours are included in the price of an entry ticket, and depart every 30 minutes (last tour 15.30 in summer, 14.30 in winter). Tours last approximately 60 minutes and start near the main entrance.
If you’ve got small kids, don’t worry! There’s no need to keep them entertained the hard way, the Tower of London provides family fun trails and interactive touchscreens at the exhibitions to keep even the little ones happy!
Please note: You may need to wait in line to pass through security checks. Entry to Tower of London is now back to using the Middle Tower entrance and not the Middle Drawbridge entrance.
How to get there:
- Tower Hill underground (district and circle lines)
- Tower Gateway (DLR)
- London Fenchurch Street (national rail network)
- Normally £27.50 - Included with The London Pass
- 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, 6-day and 10-day passes available
- Tower of London