Tuesday, April 21, 2015
The Tower of London: Part Two
This is the second of two blog posts about my recent visit to the Tower of London. The first part was covered on Tuesday, April 14. I hope you enjoy the continuation of this virtual tour.
Beefeaters. Dressed in dark blue and red uniforms, the Yeoman Warders are royal bodyguards and have provided the ceremonial guard for the Tower since approximately 1509. To serve in this elite group, an individual must be retired from the Armed Forces of Commonwealth Realms. They must be former senior non-commissioned officers or petty officers with at least twenty-two years of service. In addition, they are required to hold the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. In 2007, Moira Cameron became the first female Yeoman Warder. Congratulations, Moira!
Remember Waterloo. Constructed in 1845 to replace the Grand Storehouse that was destroyed by fire in 1841, the Waterloo Barracks is one of the “newer” buildings in the Tower complex. The name refers to Battle of Waterloo and the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. The cannons in front of the building were captured from the French at Waterloo. The Crown Jewels are housed in the Barracks when not being worn for ceremonial or state occasions.
Royal Bling! Kept in the Tower since 1303 after they were stolen from Westminster Abbey, “Crown Jewels” is the collective term that refers to the crowns, scepters, orbs, swords, rings, spurs, armills, tunics, and robe worn by the sovereign of the United Kingdom during the coronation ceremony or state functions. The term includes other objects used during the ceremony itself. Most of the original items were melted down, broken or sold during the English Civil War in 1660. When Charles II ascended the throne after the war, new pieces were crafted based on descriptions of the lost items. Apparently visitors tended to loiter at the Crown Jewels display, so there is now a travellator that moves people past at a brisk, steady pace.
Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Named for the new style musket (the Fusil) that had a covered flash pan to minimize the risk of sparks igniting the gun powder, the Volunteers Battalion Royal Fusiliers date back to 1648. Based at the Tower in the Regiment’s headquarters, the Fusilier Museum chronicles the history of this regiment that continues to serve with distinction.
Destruction during WWII. During WWII, the Tower sustained major bomb damage, especially during the Blitz, and a number of buildings were destroyed, including the mid-19th-century North Bastion that received a direct hit in October 1940. After the war, the damage was repaired, and the Tower was re-opened to the public.
Privately funded. I was surprised to discover The Tower one of six palaces cared for by an
independent charity (Historic Royal Palaces), and it receives no money from the government or crown.
Our trip to England was unforgettable. Do you have a special trip or vacation that you can share?
Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win Gail Pallotta’s ebook Mountain of Love and Danger.
A freelance writer for over twelve years, Linda Matchett also writes historical fiction. She is currently seeking a publisher for her series about war correspondent Ruth Brown. Visit her at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com