The “Not So Gruesome” Tower

Mist gathers on the cobbled rise above the Traitors Gate in the Tower of London, the sound of lapping water a reminder of the nearby Thames. Out of the swirling white comes a Warder, his keys jangling in time to his steps, his red coat illuminated by a candle lantern.images[1]

Okay, I admit it sounds rather spooky, but it’s actually the Ceremony of the Keys that’s been part of the Tower’s history for the last 700 years. Each night the gates need to be locked. After all, the Crown Jewels are inside. In true British fashion the dialogue is the same each evening, and the event takes place within a precise time frame. Except, one night during World War ll. A bomb knocked the Warder off his feet, but he stood up, brushed himself off, and carried on. He was forgiven for being late. (Once every 700 years isn’t bad.)                                                                               images76TJJ490

It’s a good thing they lock up each evening. There have been attempts to steal the jewels, which isn’t surprising considering the Star of Africa sits atop the royal scepter. It’s awe inspiring to go through and look at the crown which is still used by the monarchy for affairs of state. The rulers of England are shrouded in tradition, including the decree that ravens occupy the Tower.

Six ravens are mandated to live in the royal holding, with a seventh waiting in the wings–so to speak. As a matter of fact, their wings are clipped so they can’t fly too far. Legend has it the monarchy will fail if the ravens leave the Tower. As you can imagine, the birds are named, well-fed and considered soldiers of the kingdom. As such, they can be dismissed for unsatisfactory conduct.images79UWMNK9

Poor George lost his appointment to the Crown for attacking and destroying TV aerials. Another raven, Grog, deserted his duties for a nearby pub. (Mmm. Do you think it had something to do with the name?) Animals were not a novel thing for the Tower.

At one time a Royal Menagerie resided in the White Tower and offered the privileged an opportunity to see exotic creatures. A wide variety came and went over the years, a Polar Bear who was allowed out on a chain and used to fish in the Thames, a leopard who loved to shred parasols and an elephant that stunned visitors with his size.


The dangerous animals eventually caused the menagerie to be moved to a zoo. The lions or bears would escape their cramped holding cells and attack guests.  My hero and heroine visit the Menagerie in my book, The Perfect Duke, but it is a danger of the two legged variety that threatens their plans.

I loved visiting London’s Tower and attending The Ceremony of the Keys. Do you have any tales about your visit you’d like to share?

24 thoughts on “The “Not So Gruesome” Tower

  1. The Tower of London doesn’t sound bad in your account of the Crown Jewels and the Ravens but in the 700 year history there have been many unpleasant things that have happened there. I think I enjoy your account better. Would love to win “The Perfect Duke.” Thanks for participating in the Blog Hop.

  2. What an interesting post! I have never been to London. Someday I would love to visit London to see all the historical sites, including the Tower. Thanks for sharing.

    1. HI Book Lady,
      I’m glad you liked the post and I hope you get to visit London. It’s a fascinating place. There isn’t anywhere you go that doesn’t have a sense of history. Even the worn cobblestones remind you of what’s gone before. If you ever go, please let me know what you liked best. (And I highly recommend Portabello Market. One day of the week – can’t remember which – they turn the street into a market and sell everything from food to antiques.)

  3. I’ve been twice – on both my trips to England. The best time was when we took the kids who, like their parents, are history geeks. Not only did I get to enjoy everything about the tower, I also got to watch my kids as they soaked it all in. 😀

    1. There is nothing like viewing the world through the eyes of a child. It feels as if you’re discovering it for the first time. I envy you that experience! Thanks for sharing and if you ever come across some interesting historical tidbits about England or Scotland, please e-mail me. I love to learn new things and you never know what will be perfect for my next book..

  4. Enjoyed reading the comments.
    I toured the Tower when I visited London a couple of years ago. History is fascinating, isn’t it?

    1. I’ve never understood why people shy away from history. To begin with, it might keep us from making the same mistakes – or not. (Some of us have to learn on our own.) But it’s so much fun to discover the trends in clothing and what is considered beautiful. Yes, there was a time when a man’s muscular calf turned women on. Men used to pad their legs in the 1700s. Ahhhh, vanity.

  5. I love factoids like this! I knew a about the ravens but some of the others (polar bear!!) are new to me. Way cool!t

  6. I love your flaming red hair, Dawn. My hair is mousy brown. I always wanted red hair (or at least auburn!).
    That’s funny to think of men padding their legs!
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

    1. Hi Catherine,
      Yes, and during that era, some men used “patches” on their face as decoration,
      and wore heeled shoes with buckles. Mmmmm, It may have been “fashionable” but not terribly romantic. My heroes refuse to bow to fashion.

  7. I left this same comment on the wrong post, Dawn. So I’m “replanting” it here. 🙂 So exciting to have “met” you on Nina Mason’s blog, Dawn! I crave and devour historical romances and am always looking for new authors. BTW, I love your red hair! Irish descendants? Red hair runs in my family and, sadly, I didn’t get it myself. Boo hoo. Now I gotta go shopping at Amazon for a book of yours. 🙂 Also, I had the good fortunate to visit The Tower in 1986 and was awed (and appalled) at the instruments of torture and the bare, cold, crude stony walls of the cells. What misery the occupants must’ve felt, although I guess that was the point. Thanks for this post.

    1. You called it, Irish AND Scottish. My Great Grandma, Grandma, Mother, Aunt May on Dad’s side and my sister all have different shades of red hair. You don’t see it that much anymore which makes me sad. (Although I hated being “different” as a girl.)
      I’m so glad you discovered me on Nina’s blog!!! I hope you like my historical romances. I have two types, the Georgian stories (Love’s Guardian, The Perfect Duke) are set in the late 1700’s, mainly in England, and are fast paced. My Scottish stories are set in the Highlands with touches of magic. I only have a Highland short story out at the moment, but I’m working on a full-sized time travel set in Scotland. You can see the opening on my website.
      And you’re right, the Tower can be very depressing if you think about what went on there. That’s why I thought I’d try to show it in a different light.

    1. Emelle,
      Thank you for stopping by! I love hearing from fellow SoulMate authors! I’m glad you like my site. I’ve always been attracted to green and black, so it seemed like the perfect choice. I’m going to head on over to your site now. It’s so much fun to see the different styles of websites.

    1. Hi Brandi,
      You’re my last entry for the drawings:) Thank you for stopping by and if you ever get the chance to visit England, I think you’ll find it fascinating.

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