The Tower of London

The Tower of London takes its name from the White Tower which was constructed in around 1078 by William the Conqueror. Over the last 900 years the Tower of London has served a number of uses including a fortress, armoury, royal palace, royal mint, treasury, menagerie, prison more recently the home to the crown jewels. The Tower is guarded by the Yeoman Warders who were formed by King Henry VII in 1485.

The Norman Conquest

The Tower of London’s origins start with the Norman Conquest of England. After Edward the Confessor died childless in 1066 England was plunged into a succession crisis. King Edward’s brother in law Harold Godwinson was crowned King Harold II on the 6th January 1066. Harold was the first king to be coronated in Westminster Abbey which had been constructed by Edward the Confessor & consecrated on the 28th December 1065, only eight days before Edward’s death. Harold’s succesion was contested by King Harald Hardrada of Norway who invaded England in August 1066. Hardrada’s army burned the town of Scarborough to the ground & conquered the city of York before they were defeated by Harold II’s forces on the 24th September at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

William Duke of Normandy contested Harold’s claim to the throne & claimed that the late King Edward had promised the throne to him instead. William prepared a large invasion force & landed in Pevensey, Sussex on the 28th September. King Harold’s army was weakened from the battle at Stamford Bridge & had to quickly march South to meet the Norman invasion force. After arriving near Hastings Harold’s army set up defence positions on Senlac Hill (present day Battle in East Sussex) on the 14th October.

Little is known of the events of the Battle of Hastings but it is generally agreed that William marched his army from their Norman fortifications to meet the English army. The battle commenced at around 09:00 & lasted for most of the day (a long battle by medieval standards). The decisive event of the battle was the death of King Harold although it is unknown how the King was actually killed. Some say he was killed by an arrow through the eye whereas other sources claim he was killed by Norman knights. The Norman victory at Hastings marked the end of Saxon rule over England, Norman Kings would reign for the next 88 years.

Tower of London, The White Tower
Tower of London, The White Tower

The White Tower, constructed by Gundulf Bishop of Rochester

Tower of London, Tower Green & Scaffold Site
Tower of London, Tower Green & Scaffold Site

Tower Green & The Scaffold Site

The White Tower

William Duke of Normany was crowned King William I on the 25th December 1066 at Westminster Abbey. King William quelled numerous rebellions during his reign & built over 80 castles to strengthen his control over the English. The most famous of William’s castles would become the Tower of London. The original Norman fortress in London was a timber structure utilising the old Roman walls & the River Thames. The stone White Tower was started in 1078 & was designed by Gundolf, Bishop of Rochester. Gundolf was a Norman monk who travelled from Normandy to England after the conquest. Gundof was appointed Bishop of Rochester in 1075 & is also responsible for the castles at Rochester & Colchester.

Tower of London, The White Tower
Tower of London, The White Tower

The White Tower, constructed by Gundulf Bishop of Rochester

Tower of London, Tower Green & Scaffold Site
Tower of London, Tower Green & Scaffold Site

Tower Green & The Scaffold Site

Explore the Tower of London

The White Tower

The White Tower

Tower of London, The White Tower
Tower of London, The White Tower

The White Tower

More White Tower

Tower Green & Scaffold Site

Tower Green & Scaffold Site

Tower of London, Tower Green & Scaffold Site
Tower of London, Tower Green & Scaffold Site

Tower Green

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The Crown Jewels

The Crown Jewels

Tower of London, Waterloo Barracks
Tower of London, Waterloo Barracks

The Crown Jewels

 Tower of London

Tower of London Gallery