Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Favorites #1: The Tower of London

The iconic White Tower, built by William the Conqueror and the central feature of the Tower of London complex. In Tudor days, there was a range of royal domestic buildings next to the White Tower--it was in those royal apartments, for example, that Anne Boleyn stayed the night before her coronation. The White Tower is a nearly-perfect example of a Norman keep. 

The famous water gate, known now as Traitor's Gate. Important prisoners were often brought to the Tower by boat and entered their prison through this gate. Anne Boleyn, though, was probably not one of them; she more likely arrived at Tower Wharf west of this gate and entered through Byward Tower. 

The Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula where three queens of England are buried: Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, and Jane Grey. The rail in the forefront of the picture encloses a memorial to the scaffold site upon which the three women died, but the site is inaccurate. The scaffold was actually built to the east, between the White Tower and today's Jewel House. The present form of the chapel dates to about 1520 and is a lovely example of a Tudor church. It was Queen Victoria, when bodies were discovered during a renovation in 1876, who caused the three queens to be reburied before the altar of the chapel.

Another iconic view, of Tower Bridge over the Thames. The famous ravens' cages are on the green to the left; the round-walled tower in the center is Wakefield Tower where Henry VI died as a prisoner under Edward IV. 

Also built during Henry VIII's reign, what is known today as the Queen's House was then the residence of the Lieutenant of the Tower. He had several prisoners in his personal keeping during the Tudor period, including Jane Grey, and it is widely-believed that Anne Boleyn spent her final days here awaiting her execution, which was delayed twice. She is reported to have said at news of one delay: "I am very sorry therefore, for I thought to be dead by this time and past my pain." It was from here that Anne Boleyn walked to the scaffold on May 19, 1536 to be executed by a swordsman brought from Calais for this purpose. 

And my favorite part of London on this trip was Jake--ever patient with his mother and (occasionally) willing to be photographed. This is ground floor of Beauchamp Tower, famous for its walls highly-carved by prisoners (including the Duke of Northumberland and his son, Robert Dudley.) 

What is your favorite spot in England, visited or not? Don't forget to comment on this post to be entered to win a signed Boleyn Deceit ARC and other gifts!


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