Monday, November 21, 2011

This Day in History v.23

One of my last escapades before I left London was to mark Tower of London off my to-do list. I was able to visit the place when we had our UBS Christmas Party in tents just outside of it, on its lawn. Yes, it was just as bad-ass as you're thinking....007 theme with plenty of alcohol flowing. This was OBVIOUSLY before all of the investment banks tanked and started cutting staff left and right...thankfully they didn't cut my Christmas party! Anyways, back on topic.

Yes, yes Tower of London. You were awesome. The history, the jewels, the fact that you still have beefeaters in their full regatta is amazing! Beefeaters are actually called The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London. Yeah Beefeater is just so much shorter. They are responsible for looking after any prisoners at the Tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels, but since there hasn't been prisoners there in YEARS, they act as tour guides.

If you'd like to learn a bit more about the Tower, thanks to Wikipedia, here you go:

Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison since at least 1100, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.
The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. From the early 14th century until the reign of Charles II, a procession would be led from the Tower to Westminster Abbey on the coronation of a monarch. In the absence of the monarch, the Constable of the Tower is in charge of the castle. This was a powerful and trusted position in the medieval period. In the late 15th century the castle was the prison of the Princes in the Tower. Under the Tudors, the Tower became used less as a royal residence, and despite attempts to refortify and repair the castle its defences lagged behind developments to deal with artillery.
Today the Tower of London is one of the country's most popular tourist attractions. It is cared for by the charity Historic Royal Palaces and is protected as a World Heritage Site.

The White Tower

Yes, there was jousting on the yard. YES!

Beefeater telling us about the history

The lawn I had my Christmas party!

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