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  1. The Tower of London (© Jonathan Perugia)
    © Jonathan Perugia
  2. A beefeater (© Jonathan Perugia)
    © Jonathan Perugia
  3. Richard Lea-Hair
    Richard Lea-HairPictures by Richard Lea-Hair. 02/04/14

    Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London today (wednesday 2nd April 2014) unveiled a working draw bridge, a site not seen for over a generation.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT - CAT STEVENTON - catherine.steventon@hrp.org.uk -0203 166 6302
  4. Nick Guttridge
    Nick GuttridgeTower of London,The Byward Tower, west elevation and part of the south moat
  5. The White Tower was the original Tower of London. Begun by William the Conqueror around 1080, it would have made a safe and impressive home for the newly crowned Norman invader. During its long life - it is almost as old as the Millennium - it has served many purposes including Royal residence, Royal Observatory, Public Records Office, State Prison, gunpowder store and is still home to the Royal Armouries.
  6. Richard Lea-Hair
    Richard Lea-HairThe White Tower was the original Tower of London. Begun by William the Conqueror around 1080, it would have made a safe and impressive home for the newly crowned Norman invader. During its long life - it is almost as old as the Millennium - it has served many purposes including Royal residence, Royal Observatory, Public Records Office, State Prison, gunpowder store and is still home to the Royal Armouries.
    Credit: Historic Royal Palaces/newsteam.co.uk
  7. The towers (© Tove K Breitstein)
    © Tove K Breitstein
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Time Out says

Experience London’s multifarious history, from the flamboyant to the frightful, with a nosey around this eleventh-century fortress

While it sits low in the London skyline, the Tower of London remains one of the capital’s best and most well known historical attractions. Plus it’s situated next to the iconic Tower Bridge, so you’d be hard pushed to miss this medieval spectacle.

Exhaustively huge throngs of people visit daily, but don’t let that put you off, because if you can handle them then you can delight at the sight of the crown of Queen Victoria or the prodigious codpiece of King Henry VIII (whatever floats your boat more).

This towering fortress goes back over 900 years, which covers a hell of a lot of torture, prisoners, weapons and exotic animals. No you haven’t misread that last bit: up until the closure of the menagerie in 1830 many beasts were kept at the Tower, including King John’s lions and Henry III’s three leopards, a polar bear and an African elephant.

There’s easily a whole day’s worth of activities here, beyond the long-emptied moats of this great castle. Interactive displays showcase the ostentatious and contentious lives of British monarchs of yesteryear. Get the nitty gritty lowdown on a tour led by one of the brilliant Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters), dressed in full costume. But know that despite its bloody reputation (and boy was it) the Tower wasn’t a place of murder, with only 19 executions ever having taken place there. And interestingly enough, it was used as a prison right up until the ’50s, when the East End’s notorious Kray Twins were briefly banged up there

Arrive early to get a glimpse of the infamous Crown Jewels, because later in the day the queues grow to ginormous proportions. If jewellery is not your bag, head on over to the White Tower where you’ll find a collection shiny torture tools. Known as the Royal Armouries, this ancient Norman keep contains swords, suits of armour for both humans and horses, poleaxes, halberds, morning stars (spiky maces) and other means for separating limbs from torsos.

There's also a redisplay of the Line of Kings – an original exhibition dating back to the 1680s – which includes wooden horses carved by the prolific sculptor Grinling Gibbons, Henry VIII's armour and a scale model of tilting knights.

For the little ones, there are swordsmanship games, coin-minting activities and even a child-sized longbow.

VIDEO: Inside the secret pub where only Beefeaters are allowed

Written by
Danielle Goldstein

Details

Address:
Tower Hill
London
EC3N 4AB
Transport:
Tube: Tower Hill/Tower Gateway DLR
Price:
£25, £19.50 concs., £12 children (ages 5–15), £45–£63 family
Opening hours:
9am–5.30pm Tue–Sat; 10am–5.30pm Sun–Mon
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‘The Gunpowder Plot’ review

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Immersive

This lavish new immersive theatre attraction from the Tower of London is, in essence, a 100-minute theme-park ride. Using live acting and pre-recorded VR, it takes you inside the infamous Gunpowder Plot, wherein a group of Catholic radicals – inflamed by King James I’s persecution of their religion – decided to blow the heck out of the Houses of Parliament. London has experienced a proliferation of this sort of big-budget, overtly commercial immersive theatre in recent times: next month we’re getting a big new ‘Peaky Blinders’ show, and ‘The Gunpowder Plot’ is the sister production to the similarly VR-augmented ‘War of the Worlds’ that’s been doing the business in central London for a few years now. What marks the ‘The Gunpowder Plot’ out as special is its superior creative team, headed by writer Danny Robins (‘The Battersea Poltergeist’, ‘2:22 - A Ghost Story’) and director Hannah Price (of the King’s Head and activist company Theatre Uncut. Its greatest strength as a drama is the careful moral ambiguity Robins’s script applies to the England of 1605, riven by conflict between the oppressive Protestant ruling class and the persecuted Catholic minority. We sympathise with the oppressed. But is detonating the Palace of Westminster and its bustling surroundings the answer? Although actually staged in the vaults just outside the Tower of London, the story begins in a recreation of the Tower, where the groups of up to 16 ticketholders are cast as newly imprisoned Catholics, witn

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