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Tower of London

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The Tower of London. In LEGOTM. What kind of utter dullard...?

Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London was one of the first post-Roman stone castles in Britain.


Early Normans

A much-loved monument and tourist attraction today, the Anglo-Saxons of the 11th and 12th centuries would have seen it as a symbol of their oppression by their Norman conquerors.

The White Tower was built first and was intended to intimidate the natives into not wanting to rise up against this tiny number of half-Viking frogs. They had decided that, because their boss had been promised the throne of England by some bloke they'd dragged off a beach, they had a divine right to come over here and steal our women, our land and our jobs whilst still complaining about the inability to get a decent bottle of wine or any good cheeses. Naturally, the incumbents weren't wholly happy about this so William the Bastard (as he'd been called up to that point, presumably not to his face) decided to make a statement that essentially said:

  • "You, peasant! Yes, you in your one room wattle-and-daub hut; look at me in my impregnable, glistening multi-storey tower! I'm your master now, don't even think about an uprising or my well paid and, may I remind you, half-Viking henchmen will throw you off the top just to see the mess you make at the bottom!"

To which the response was basically: "Grumble, grumble, froggy twat, grumble grumble, yes sir". Or at least in London where the tower had the desired effect. Northerners took a bit more slapping to finally get them to "get with the program".


Late Normans/Henry III

Built a big wall around it, even though by this point the natives were less restless. Eventually extended it to the area of the palace today, despite NIMBY-ism from the locals.


Edward I (aka number 6)

He fucking loved castles did Eddy-baby, pissing the Welsh off by building some of the biggest ever seen all over their land, pissing the Porridge Wogs off by executing Mel Gibson and pissing the English off by taxing the crap out of them to pay his B&Q account. Even with all this building work going on elsewhere he couldn't leave his most prestigious castle alone during this time, digging moats, building walls and towers all over the place. Like some obsessed DIY-er whose wife just can't settle on the right wallpaper.


Use as a palace

Too draughty for modern Kings and Queens, it hasn't been regularly used as a palace since Henry VIII decided he preferred Cardinal Wolsey's little pad at Hampton Court.


Use as a fortress

Its first major test against a baying mob of Londoners was, frankly, a bit of a Cake and Arse Party. During the Peasants' Revolt the Archbishop of Canterbury locked himself in there in an attempt to avoid the great unwashed tearing him limb from limb. Well, he had just introduced a Poll Tax - stupid sod. Unfortunately the warders weren't the current bunch of fiercely loyal and reliable (if slightly tubby) ex-SNCOs who know to keep the fucking gates shut in the face of a bunch of Cockneys armed with nothing more than agricultural implements. For many years before (and after!!) the role had been a "job for the boys" sinecure and you just paid some peasant a pittance to actually do the job while you collected the nice fat salary. Can anyone see the flaw in this? You need a clue? OK then: Peasants on both sides of the wall during the Peasants' Revolt?


Use as a prison

Not much better in the early days - the first prisoner escaped, largely due to him getting the guards pissed. Got a bit better later on, but still more of a "Now, do you promise not to escape?" sort of a prison until the twentieth century when it was finally realised that you actually had to lock the prisoners up in a building to stop them escaping. A few U-boat POWs were locked up in one of the outer buildings during WW2 and apparently still have a dislike for British food, especially over-boiled cabbage.


Use as a treasure house

Very safe in recent years, but back in the Restoration era the fabulously named Colonel Blood managed to nick off with them - by the simple expedient of him and a couple of mates giving the one elderly guard a quick shoeing and tying him up. Despite being caught red-handed he received a very mild slap on the wrist and this, along with the land in Ireland worth £500 a year he was given afterwards by King Charles II suggests to many that the King had a hand in the whole thing - especially as he was a bit strapped for cash at the time. The chances of King Charles III convincing a cavalry Colonel to repeat the attempt in order to pay off his losses from his "Duchy Originals" organic food business are considered slim by the Metropolitan Police.

Use as a place of execution

One of the things they seem to have got right pretty much from the off when Henry VIII decided he'd had enough of Anne Boleyn and much preferred her sister Scarlett Johannsen. Of course, it was all beheading back in Tudor times; only progressing to hanging much later and eventually ending up as firing squads - with the last execution (a WW2 German spy - filthy Hun weasel fighting his dirty underhand war) being carried out by tying him to a chair indoors and having a firing squad of Scots Guards shoot him. The chair still exists, as does the bit where a .303 took a chunk out after passing through the Boche.


Use as a tourist attraction

Pretty much as soon as The Tower was no longer needed to subdue the locals the tourists started coming en masse (and en boats as well). Initially it was the wealthy who got personal guided tours from the guards, these days the Yeomen Warders give (very loud) guided tours to anyone, even Spams asking how far away "the Harrods" are. The history as given by the "Beefeaters" is very much a piece of entertainment, and is not strictly intended to be totally accurate - it's not far out, but it definitely contains elements carried over from their Victorian forbears who had a penchant for "embellishment". The so-called "Spanish Armoury" for instance was supposed to comprise various horrific-looking weapons recovered from the Spanish Armada. It was later discovered that the vast majority of these weapons were actually English.


Ceremonies

Ceremony of the Keys - this is believed to be the oldest continuous daily ceremony in the world. One of the Yeomen Warders, usually the Chief Yeoman Warder or the Yeoman Gaoler, marches around the tower after closing time locking the gates and shouting things at sentries (who have to remember exactly what to shout back).

Queen's Guard - as it's still officially a Royal Palace, a guard is still mounted outside the Jewel House and the Queen's House.