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Tower of London – a must visit

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21st July 2010

I am getting a bit behind on my posts and I apologized for that. Time to get my lazy ass off the couch and blog something! A couple of weeks ago, we visited Tower of London. We waited so long to do that even though after being in London for so many months because I was undecided if we should get a London pass. I was also waiting for the weather to get better. In the end I decided to use my Tesco vouchers instead so I don’t need to rush from attraction to attraction if I were to use a London pass. Since I have plenty of time in London, I thought it would be better to slow down and take in all that I can instead of rushing from place to place.

Tower of London middle tower crest
The middle tower greets you when you step into the Tower of London.

Almost every itinerary of a first time visit to London includes Tower of London and I can see why. I can assure you that this place is worth your time but is it worth your money? This debate will be endless and needless to say the entry fee of £17.00 (for 2010) is anything but cheap. There will always be skeptics out there but these people are usually skeptical about everything and anything. Every often there are discounts available such as a 2 for 1 voucher or buying a London pass with the entry included. I used my Tesco vouchers and every shopper at Tesco should know that Tesco vouchers are sometimes worth 4 times as much when redeemed for entry into selected attractions. Of course there are intricacies in using your Tesco vouchers but they are too many to be discussed in this post. If you have any questions, you are most welcome to contact me.

small siege machine shoots arrows
A small siege machine that shoots large arrows.

small siege machine, catapult
A smaller brother to the catapult. Have to be manually pulled or fired by people.

We got into the Tower of London at about 130pm and believe it or not, we still did not manage to finish checking out everything! I probably spend a lot more time taking photos than I should. Memories fade but hey, digital photos live on forever as long as you can store it safely. For me, there are 3 must-dos when visiting Tower of London. Firstly is the exhibition of the Crown Jewels. They are literally kept in a vault the size of a large apartment. Well, at least the door looks like a vault but I can’t say if the walls are reinforced. Feast your eyes on some of largest diamonds in the world, including both the Great and Lesser Star of Africa which weighs more than 800 carat together. To speed up the viewing and to prevent people from standing around and gawking, the proprietors had cleverly installed travelators on both sides of the display cases. Don’t miss out on the information panels as they contain some interesting information if you don’t know your crown jewels well. Sadly no photos allowed here but you can find tons of them online.

small sentry post used to guard Crown Jewels
Sentry post used by the RAF guards.

Clock at the waterloo block in Tower of London
This clock that jut out of the building stands directly above the entrance to the Crown Jewels.

change of guard right outside the jewel house
Change of guard performed by the RAF regiment.

Secondly, all visitors should attend a Yeoman Warder guided tour. Actually everyone should make this tour the starting point of your visit. This tour contains most of the interesting background information on the Tower of London and what you get out of it will largely depend on your Yeoman Warder. Well, ours was extremely hilarious and animated resulting in a very entertaining and informative hour. The “Beefeaters” as they are traditionally nicknamed, also share with us some interesting information such as they lived on site but still have to pay rent. Their loud and colorful uniforms are a delight among the kids and also good for photos too.

Yeoman Warder guided tour
Our Yeoman Warder

Posing with the Yeoman Warder
Li Ying posing with the Warder.

Thirdly, explore the most imposing the building within the Tower of London, the White Tower. This building is the keep for this castle and they have an armour exhibition running. See many pieces of unique and exquisite armour belonging to the English royalty. Weaponry is included too! You can get to see a lance, a musket and
some really long double handed swords just to name a few. There are also some very special commemorative pistols on display. There are a lot of exhibits and after a while it can get tiring. It was also quite stuffy due to the warm weather and the large number of visitors.

The white tower in Tower of London
The White Tower

wind vane on White Tower
The wind vane on top of the White Tower.

rider armour, horse armour
Rider and the steed in armour.

King Henry VIII's armour
Armour belonging to King Henry VIII, who was greatly overweight at that time.

Samurai armour
Gift armour presented to King James I by Tokugawa Hidetada in 1613.

gilt armour, surface covered with gold leaf belonging to King Charles I
Gilt armour belonging to King Charles I. The surface is covered with gold leaf.

armoury crest in Tower of London
Pair of ceremonial swords
Pair of ceremonial swords. The illustration in the case shows the usage.

jousting lance in display case
A lance meant to be mounted on a horse.

a boy armour
A boy armour.

smith & wesson revolver decorated by Tiffany and Co.
A Smith & Wesson revolver decorated by Tiffany and Co.

jeweled revolver, Magnum
A customised .357 magnum decorated with red gold, red enamel and diamonds.

jeweled pistol with 1517 diamonds
A pistol decorated with blue enamel panels, white gold and 1517 diamonds.

executioner's axe
A executioner’s axe.

executioner's mask
The mask of an executioner.

chapel in White Tower
A working chapel within the White Tower.

medieval toilet
This toilet bowl in the keep goes straight out to the walls outside.

trying to shoot with a bow, Li Ying
trying to shoot with a bow, Leng Yeow
We tried out this virtual shooting using a bow.

insignia of tower of london
Similar to the one at the entrance

Since Tower of London is huge, I would recommend you to do theses 3 attractions first lest you missed them due to a lack of time. At the end of the day, we still have not covered all the places. The place is huge and visitors can really benefit if they first check out the map of the place that is available online. Even though I have not been to many attractions in London, the Tower of London is by far the best paid attraction I visited. I recommend at least half a day here if you are visiting for the first time.

ravens at the Tower of London
Legend has it that if the ravens leave, the Kingdom will fall. Of course, their wings are clipped nowadays.

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge in the background. Not to be mistaken for London Bridge

Globe Nomads review ratings: 4
We had a very entertaining day out. If not for the really expensive entrance fees, we would go back again to check out the places we had missed.
(please refer to ratings explanation)

Visitor Information:
Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) property
Admission: adult £17, child £9.50, family £47, concessions £14.50. HRP members free.
No parking on site.
Please refer to HRP website for latest updates and discounts apply when buying tickets online.

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