The Tower of London is one of the most famous and well-preserved historical buildings in the world. From its earliest beginnings by its founder William I of England better known as William the Conqueror 1066-87, the Great Tower or White Tower as it later came to be called was fast becoming the most talked-about building in England. The White Tower was also the most frightening building to the Anglo-Saxon people who were trying to get used to the rule of their new Norman king, the destroyer of their own ruler, Harold II, at the in 1066. Within three months of his victory William the Conqueror had begun to build a castle on the north bank of the river Thames in London.
Beginning life as a simple timber and earth enclosure tucked in the south-east angle formed by the joining of the original east and south stone walls of the old Roman town of Londinium Augusta, the original structure was completed by the addition of a ditch and palisade along the north and west sides.
This enclosure then received a huge structure of stone which in time came to be called The Great Tower and eventually as it is known today The White Tower. This formed the basis of a residential palace and fortress ideally suited for a king or queen and as history has shown, to its regal occupants the Tower of London became the perfect all-purpose complex. Since the first foundations were laid more than 900 years ago the castle has been constantly improved and extended by the addition of other smaller towers, extra buildings, walls and walkways, gradually evolving into the splendid example of castle, fortress, prison, palace and finally museum that it proudly represents today.
The guards at the Tower of London are the Yeoman Warders, popularly known as Beefeaters, although the origins of this name is unknown. In their distinctive red and black uniform, the guards conduct guided tours of the Tower for tourists.
While it had been a prison a lot of famous Britons have been executed here: William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings (1431 – 1483), Anne Boleyn, Queen of England (1507- 1536), Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (1473-1541), Catherine Howard, Queen of England (1524 – 1542), Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford (1505 – 1542), Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England (1537–1554), Robert Devereux 2nd Earl of Essex (1566 – 1601).
Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII’s six wives. When the king fell in love with her he was still married to Catherine of Aragon, but the marriage had not produced a male heir. Henry wanted to divorce Catherine and marry Anne. The Pope refused to legitimize the divorce so Henry broke with the Roman Catholic church and proclaimed himself head of the church of England. He and Anne married in 1533. Anne gave birth to a daughter (later Elizabeth I) but not to the son Henry wanted, and his attention turned to Jane Seymour, soon his third wife. Anne was arrested on charges of adultery and found guilty of treason. She was beheaded at the Tower of London in 1536 (a fate that also awaited Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, in 1542). Eleven days later Henry married Jane Seymour. Anne Boleyn’s ghost is one of several that are said to haunt the Tower of London.
The Tower of London
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