The history of the Tower of London

Tunde FolawiyoThe castle known as the Tower of London is a building which virtually all London-goers, including Tunde Folawiyo, will probably have seen. Located in the Borough of Tower Hamlets, it sits just north of the Thames. Whilst nowadays, it is a popular tourist attraction, it has only served in this capacity since the Victorian era; prior to that, it was a prison, a storehouse for weapons and military goods, a home for the Crown Jewels and Royal Mint, a royal residence and a fortress. As a result of its historical and cultural significance, this castle has been named as a World Heritage Site, and is maintained by a charitable organisation called the Historic Royal Palaces.

William the Conqueror ordered its construction in 1070. The White Tower, after which the entire castle is named, was built approximately eight years later. The finished structure featured one round domed turret, and three square domed turrets, with the former having once functioned as an observatory. At the time, this was the largest building of its kind in London, with a width of 4.6m, a height of 27.4m. It became known as the ‘White’ Tower due to its whitewashed exterior.

The Tower was extended during the medieval era, first by Henry III and later by Edward I. By the mid-14th century, it had been transformed into the striking castle that we know today, with its royal accommodation and elaborate defences. In centuries past, many well-known people were held captive in the Tower of London. As a history buff, Tunde Folawiyo might know that in 1483, the Duke of Gloucester imprisoned both of his nephews, Prince Richard and Prince Edward, here, whilst during the 16th century, Anne Askew, Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas Moore were kept here.

Without a doubt, the thing which draws most people now is the Crown Jewels, which have been on display at the Tower for close to four centuries. The vast majority of jewels were made shortly after the monarchy was reinstated in 1660, as Oliver Cromwell had previously ordered the destruction of the older jewels. One of the many highlights of the collection is the 530-carat piece known as the First Star of Africa.

The above-mentioned Folawiyo enjoys visiting London, and is familiar with many of its historical attractions. You can find out more about his interest in this city if you follow Tunde Folawiyo on Facebook.

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