No tourist’s mental image of London would be complete without them, but how many people can actually say what the Tower of London’s Yeoman Warders – or as they’re better known, Beefeaters – actually do every day? As Chief Yeoman Warder Alan Kingshott explains, it’s a role that’s changed over the years as the Tower has evolved from head-on-spike fortress to world-famous attraction. ‘We get 2.8 million visitors a year,’ he says. ‘So we’re ultimately responsible for them. We impart our knowledge, interpret history, give guided tours and look after lost children. And although there are no prisoners now, we still look after the security of the Tower.’
And the nickname? ‘That’s uncertain,’ Alan says, ‘but there’s a legend about the Yeoman Warders being the envy of local people. They weren’t well paid, but they were given lodging and had a good diet.’ Forget free eye tests – employers, we want beef!
And while we’re at it: why is London called the ‘Big Smoke’?