The Tower of London is a historic castle with an infamously bloody past. Originally built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, this complex includes several buildings including the Royal Armouries collection and the Crown Jewels, defensive walls and even a moat. It’s not surprising that this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. Entrance fees are not inexpensive, but cheaper rates are available online than at the door.
After entering the Tower, we were greeted by one of the Yeoman Warders, commonly known as the Beefeaters, who began our extremely informative tour. Among other things, the tour highlighted the execution of two of Henry VIII’s six wives on Tower Green – Anne Boleyn in 1536 and Catherine Howard in 1542 – and the history of the Tower’s ravens. Over 500 years ago, King Charles II declared, “If the ravens leave the tower, the kingdom will fall…” and ruled that at least six ravens must be kept onsite at all times.
- Kid Facts: King Charles II’s superstition is not one to be tested. Seven ravens are always kept at the Tower – six plus one spare. The ravens are cared for by the Tower’s Ravenmaster, and their wings are clipped so they can’t fly away.
The 11th century White Tower was the keep of the castle and is the most iconic image of the complex. The White Tower now holds the collection of the Royal Armouries and St. John’s Chapel, which was built for William the Conqueror. Expert warders provide guided tours of the White Tower.
- Kid Facts: St. John’s Chapel is the oldest church in London. The White Tower was almost destroyed in 1940 during a World War II bombing.
The Crown Jewels of England have been displayed in the Tower of London since the 17th century and are protected by armed guards. No photography of the jewels is permitted.
- Kid Facts: The Crown Jewels are owned by Queen Elizabeth II and not the government.
During our wall walk, our boys enjoyed exploring the inner battlements that served as protection for the castle.
The Tower of London is also a fantastic place to view the Tower Bridge.
We regularly tour a museum or historic site in less than two hours, but we spent the better part of a day at the Tower of London. We arrived close to noon and ate ice cream (possibly twice!) but did not stop to sit down for lunch until about 4:00 p.m. because there was so much to do and see. There was a good deal of standing and listening the whole afternoon, our boys were fascinated and did not complain. While we brought a stroller for our daughter, we parked it for much of the day and predominately used the carrier instead. A visit to the Tower of London definitely requires a few hours but is a site not to miss when visiting London.
London has so many fun family museums, and we can’t wait to go back and check out more! Make sure to check out our posts on London, including Our First Family Trip Abroad, Five(teen) Fun Family Attractions, Five Fun Family Museums, Five Fun Family Parks (to come) and Sample Itineraries (to come).
Every so often, we encounter a place that is so fabulous for those traveling with kids that it is worthy of being featured on its own. For more fabulous locations, please check out our other Spotlight features!