Sunday 27th July
Today Miss Hannaford and I visited one of London’s oldest and most famous landmarks- the Tower of London. The Tower of London is officially known as Her Majesty’s Palace and Fortress but it is also known as the place where the Crown Jewels are kept as well as a prison and a place where people’s heads were cut off over 500 years ago.
The Tower of London was where the Kings and Queens of England used to live which is why it looks like a castle. It has a moat that used to have water in it and once you cross the moat, you can see where the portcullis with it’s long spikes goes up and down using rope wound around a crank to stop enemies from entering the castle. When we visited, teams of volunteers were putting clay poppies into the ground of the moat for the commemoration of the centenary of World War 1 in 1914. By November 11 2014, there will be 1 poppy for every British solider killed in the First World War.
Since the Tower of London is the place where the Crown Jewels of England are kept, there are 2 groups of soldiers guarding them. The first group come from either the Grenediers, Colstream, Irish. Scots or Welsh Guards who wear the red uniforms and actual Bearskin hats. The hats are made from real Canadian black bears. These soldiers guard all the palaces and they also serve in the British army. The other group of guards are known as Yeoman Warders. They live 24/7 at the Tower with their families and they are retired soldiers but they wear a uniform design that is 500 years old.
The Crown Jewels are kept in the Jewel House within the grounds of the Tower of London. All the famous crowns wore by the Queen and past Kings and Queens are kept here as well as many of the objects used in the coronation.
The most important building in the grounds of the Tower of London is the White Tower. Here is where Kings and Queens lived over many centuries. Inside the tower is a display of suits of armour belonging to all the ancient kings- queens never wore armour. We got to see armour worn by King Henry VIII, as well as many different kinds of weapons that were stored at the Tower of London.
The photo just above shows how much a knight wearing armour could actually see- which is not very much. The exhibition designers at the the Tower of London had cut a helmet in half so you could put your face in to see what the knights could not see!
The tower is also known as a place of execution. 6 people including 3 Queens of England had their head cut off by either an axe or a sword inside the tower grounds on Tower Green while hundreds had their head cut off on the hill just behind the tower. Their heads were cut off if they had been judged and found guilty of the most serious of crimes- treason against the king. Many innocent as well as guilty people had their head cut off. One of the axes and blocks is on display in the Tower of London and a sculpture has been set up on Tower Green to remember the innocent people whose heads were cut off.
One of the unusual things about the Tower of London is that Ravens are always kept at the Tower. The superstition is that if the ravens leave the tower, the tower will fall and the monachy will end. 300 years ago, the English King decreed that the Yeoman Warders must always keep at least 8 Ravens at the Tower of London at all times. The Ravens are allowed to go wherever they like but their flight feathers are trimmed so they can’t fly away.
After our visit to the Tower of London, Miss Hannaford and I went on a cruise on the River Thames to the London Eye. We saw Tower Bridge again, a strange new building called the Shard and eventually the London Eye- a huge Ferris wheel on the bank of the river.
Our last stop of the day was a ride on the London Eye! It takes 30 minutes to go all the way around the wheel and the view of London is amazing!
It has been a very exciting day- I am really looking forward to what we are doing tomorrow!- Lucy