Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Tower Of London

Russell Chamberlin's book, the Tower Of London, is a historical view on the history of England through the eyes of it's architecture. Chamberlin's analysis summarizes the development of the Towers, to the present day as a monument. This historic fortress was built on the remains of Roman fortifications. It was built in the late 12th century under the reign of King William II (1065-1087). Although its exterior walls were restored in the 18th century, the interior still has much of its original Norman character. Later buildings surrounding the original keep include a barracks and a chapel built in the 14th century and restored in the 16th century. The inner fortifications, called the Ballium Wall, have 12 towers: the Bloody Tower, the Wakefield Tower, the Bell Tower, the Lanthorn Tower, the Salt Tower , the Broad Arrow Tower, the Constable Tower, the Martin Tower, the Brick Tower, the Bowyer Tower, the Flint Tower, the Devereux Tower, and the Beauchamp Tower.

The tower was used as a royal palace as well as for a prison until Elizabethan times. Use of the tower as a prison was discontinued in the 19th century. Executions were held either in the central keep or outside the tower on Tower Hill. It is now largely a showplace and museum. It holds the crown jewels of England and is one of the country's greatest tourist attractions. A popular feature is the Yeomen of the Guard, known as Beefeaters, who still wear colorful uniforms of the Tudor period.

This book contains some wonderful pictures but is not the comprehensive history I had expected. In fact, it is primarily an extended guidebook. It details all the building works that have ever taken place at the Tower - including demolitions and re-building - and not enough about the historic events played out within its forbidding walls.

Source: Russell Chamberlin, The Tower of London: an Illustrated History (Webb & Bower, 1989.) Eric Wright


Post a Comment