The Tower of London

The Tower of London is one of those places that everyone’s been to as a kid. So when we had a request from our weekend guests Paul and Carol to go there, I couldn’t resist it!

It was bound to be super busy but what the hell, it had to be done. We were blessed with amazing weather which made everything look luminous. Of course it’s very touristy but that aside, it’s very well presented and for a history geek like me, it’s the closest thing to heaven you’ll get. Of course for some people it was the closest thing to hell.

 

DSC_1695

The Tower is still officially the headquarters of the Royal Armouries (with the full collection up in Leeds of course) and is chock full of impressive arms and armour, including this exquisite detailing on Henry VIII’s quite voluminous suit.
DSC_1674

Ancient doorways with history steeped patina lead to infamous courtyards featuring murder, torture, executions and, er, ravens.

DSC_1700

Breastplates a go-go. Must have been quite uncomfortable and chafed somewhat.

DSC_1678

This medieval stained glass is reported to be the last thing Henry VI saw before he was murdered.

DSC_1702

Beautiful detailing belies the true nature of the job its required to do.

DSC_1682

Solid gold crowns sit atop William the Conqueror’s impressive white tower, built just after the Battle of Hastings, a proto power play if ever there was one.

DSC_1704

Swords. Lots of swords.

DSC_1705

Up until relatively recently, the royal mint was based in the Tower of London harking back to times when the monarchy needed hard currency to fight wars and keep the peasants under control (a bit like these days).

DSC_1689

Nice art commissions dot the site too with the famous menagerie of animals that were kept there represented as chicken wires sculptures.

DSC_1691

Vivid cannon detail belies an energetic creative streak in the casting designers.  Who knew?

DSC_1687

Stunning contrast – ancient and modern in stark relief.

DSC_1677

If you didn’t believe me about Henry VI, here’s the proof…kind of.

DSC_1697

Loving the detailing and craftsmanship on another of Henry VIII’s suits.

DSC_1684

In many of the towers there is ancient graffiti left by prisoners awaiting their fate in either the torture chamber or the executioner’s block.
DSC_1680

Named after the Tower or actually its towers, mmm. Not sure, any ideas?

DSC_1672

Blood and the shard. There’s something poignantly beautiful happening at The Tower of London…

 

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

The evolving installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, will be unveiled on 5 August 2014; one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War.

Entitled ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, the installation is being created in the Tower’s famous dry moat. It will continue to grow throughout the summer until the moat is filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies, each poppy representing a British or Colonial military fatality during the war.

The poppies will encircle the Tower, creating not only a spectacular display, but also an inspiring setting for learning activities, as well as providing a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation reflects the magnitude of such an important centenary, creating a powerful visual commemoration.

The last poppy will symbolically be planted on 11 November 2014

– See more at: http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/stories/firstworldwar/TheTowerofLondonRemembers#sthash.hxSoeBfc.dpuf

Tour de France 2014

DSC_1501 DSC_1413 DSC_1392 DSC_1585 DSC_1514 DSC_1497 DSC_1417 DSC_1596 DSC_1544 DSC_1366 DSC_1495 DSC_1438 DSC_1483 DSC_1369 DSC_1463 DSC_1487 DSC_1491 DSC_1539 DSC_1470 DSC_1460 DSC_1569 DSC_1561 DSC_1448 DSC_1486 DSC_1484 DSC_1380 DSC_1492 DSC_1384 DSC_1498 DSC_1519 DSC_1378 DSC_1372 DSC_1518 DSC_1500 DSC_1459 DSC_1442 DSC_1490 DSC_1576 DSC_1451 DSC_1524