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.

 

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

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

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

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

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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.

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Swords. Lots of swords.

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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).

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

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

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Stunning contrast – ancient and modern in stark relief.

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

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

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

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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

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