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4/25/2008

Inside the Tower

The Tower of London has been many things in its rather lengthy lifetime. As we mentioned yesterday, there have been fortifications on this site since Roman times. But William the Conqueror built the Tower in 1066, at first as a Royal residence. Over many years, it has been many other things; prison, armory, place of execution, museum. The diorama you will be looking at in a moment depicts the Tower complex as it existed in the 16th century. By then it had expanded from the original, which is the building in the center with the 4 towers at the corners. That is the Tower of London, itself. Everything else is window dressing. Notice that the Tower isn't very tall. 4 stories, actually. I'd always had an image in my mind of the sort of thing that Rapunzel would have been locked up in, a tall, thin tower, graceful and fairytale-like. Not this short, squat block with spires at each corner.

I have no pictures of the outside of the Tower. It is, currently, undergoing a cleaning and renovation and it is hidden under a scaffolding. So the structure you see in the middle of this diorama is a good as you're going to get - from the outside.



The building in which the Crown Jewels reside is north of the Tower - it does not exist in this diorama. When I took the picture of the entrance to it, I was standing with my back to the Tower, facing North. As you look at the diorama, your view is from South to North.

After the Tower was no longer used as a Royal residence, it was used as an armory. And as such, they stored guns and gunpowder. At one point they had so much gunpowder stored in the building that the third floor collapsed into the second floor. Anyway, look at the guns:



The Line of Kings was created by Charles the Second to assist in legitimizing his rule. His daddy, Charles the First, had been removed from the throne some 11 years before because 'Shorty', as he might have been called by those who loved him not much, had pissed off everybody so Cromwell led a revolution against the King and he was beheaded. Eventually. It's actually a much longer story - but not for here.
These wooden horses and accompanying armor and weapons supposedly represent the actual horses of each king starting with William the Conqueror. But they establish the 'Line' - from William to Charles the Second.



Nice horsey.

The Tower was also a place of execution. All of those beheadings you've heard about in merry old England - this is the ACTUAL chopping block they used. Henry's wives. Various and sundry traitors. A few kings. On this block. Not that they preserved it for any specific reason. It's just that when the Tower was finally given its current purpose, that of museum, they discovered they hadn't thrown it away. So, they put it on display. As far as I know, it has never been formally decommissioned.




And, of course, from the very beginning of its existence, the Tower was a place of worship. This small, charming chapel is at the southeast corner of the Tower. Though unpainted now, in medieval times it was bightly colored with paints and tapestries. This was a hard shot to get.



That just about wraps up England. I wish I could publish all 377 photos. I wish I could share with you all the things I saw and felt and experienced. This has been but the smallest measure of all of that. Someday - I will go back. And take my time. And I'm going to win that lottery and take all of you with me. Right.

5 comments:

Kelley said...

Awesome! How many pairs of shoes can I bring?

'Nice horsey' cracked me the hell up.

Hyphen Mama said...

Absolutely, positively the first time I've ever called my husband over to read over my shoulder. Look honey... check out these guns! He liked it. Then discussed how one English ship was sunk when it took one hit to the gun powder...something-or-other.

I am sad our tour is over. You've gotten me thinking about my trip to Scotland in 2000. Then yesterday the Travel channel had a show in Edinburgh and I was nostalgic all over again. I'm getting the traveling itch.

Elizabeth said...

I can't believe they kept the chopping block! Wow. Think of all the DNA that could be extracted from it. ;) Incidentally I would have appreciated that block last night to put me out of my misery.

"Nice horsey."
Indeed!

Marita said...

I've been really enjoying reading about your trip to england and seeing all the wonderful pictures. It is bringing everything to life for me.

The chopping block is an amazing piece of history.

Nicole said...

Amazing yet again!
The guns and the chopping block give me the shivers :)