The Tower of London and its Bloody Tower

The famous Tower of London was first built by William the Conqueror for the purpose of protecting and controlling the city. It originally lay within the earlier Roman city walls, but it was enlarged in the 13th century stretching to the east beyond those confines. Eighteen acres in all (including the now dry moat), you will find it covers the borough of Tower Hamlets today.

The architecture within the walls is of all styles that flourished in England. The impressive architecture has not changed styles but has changed roles over the decades. It has been a fortress, a palace, and a prison. It has housed the Royal Mint, the Royal Menagerie, Public Records and even the Royal Observatory for a short time. It was for centuries the arsenal for small arms and being one of the strongest fortresses in the land, the Tower protected the Crown Jewels as well. Whatever the country needed, it would become. We wonder, did William envision his magnificent structure as all or even some of those things when being built?

The Tower was occupied as a palace by all the Kings and Queens down to James I. It was the custom for each monarch to lodge in the Tower before his coronation. The other side of that coin? Infamously the Tower has also been used as the principal place of imprisonment for State prisoners from the early 12th century into the 20th, including Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy. Many famous and important people spent time there whether royal or just deemed royal pains. But what of the Towers?

Although the oldest and most important building is the Great Tower or Keep, also called the White Tower, the more famous today may be the Bloody Tower. One of thirteen towers, its gateway was put in place during the reign of Henry III, and the tower was actually added over it during the reign of Richard II. It was not always so morbidly named, in fact, it was once known as the Garden Tower as it overlooked the Constable's beautiful garden. All that beauty though was marred... by murder.  It was thought to be the scene of the murder of Edward V and his brother the Duke of York forever changing how we see this Tower.

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