Musement shares six curiosities about one of the English capital’s most iconic landmarks.
The Tower of London is just as emblematic of the British monarchy as Buckingham Palace. Dating back to the eleventh century, the Tower has played many roles from fortress to palace to prison to an armory. Today, it’s one of London‘s most visited sites. Not only is the Tower home to the precious Crown Jewels, but also legends, ghosts, torture instruments and disturbing anecdotes as well as funny and disconcerting secrets. Here’s a look at six of them.
1. The Ravens
Anyone who has ever visited the Tower of London has certainly noticed the majestic black ravens. An old superstition states, “If the Tower of London ravens become lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it”. The English take this unfortunate possibility so seriously that each raven has one clipped wing to prevent it from flying away.
2. Isaac Newton “in da Tower”
The Tower of London was home to the Royal Mint, which remained there for five centuries. From 1699 to 1727, Isaac Newton served as Warden of the Mint. Not only was he one of the greatest scientists of all time, but also one of the most efficient wardens the Kingdom has ever had. He took his duties very seriously, dedicating a great deal of time and energy to seeing all coin forgers and counterfeiters brought to justice.
3. Princes of the Tower
There are some relatives who make Scar, Simba’s conniving uncle in The Lion King, seem loving. In 1483 Edward IV died suddenly leaving behind two sons. His eldest, twelve-year-old Edward V was the rightful heir to the throne. Their uncle, Richard of Gloucester invited them to the Tower prior to the June coronation. In the meantime, the Edward IV’s marriage was declared invalid rendering his sons illegitimate and as a result, Richard was named King Richard III that July. The boys were never seen again after August, and are believed to have been killed in the Bloody Tower, which owes its name to this occurrence. In 1674, two small human skeletons were found in the ground near the White Tower.
4. Richard of Gloucester inspired Shakespeare
The aforementioned loving Richard of Gloucester was indeed the Richard that inspired Shakespeare for his Richard III. The second scene of Act IV contains a passage concerning the imprisonment and killing of the two princes. A few choice words Shakespeare uses to define him: deformed monster, dog and demon. However, Richard still has some supporters. The Richard III Society believes he was not the monster that Shakespeare created, and since 1924 they have been advocating for people to evaluate his reign a little more objectively.
5. The White Tower
Despite its name, the Bloody Tower is not the most disturbing tower on the property. The White Tower holds this “honor” because the scaffold where many of the Crown’s “traitors” breathed their last breath once stood on the lawn surrounding it. Treason was whatever the king said it was, and he accused anyone he wanted to eliminate either for either political reasons or on a whim of this crime. Two of Henry VIII’s most famous unfortunates were Sir Thomas More and his second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn.
6. The Ghosts
Every self-respecting castle has a ghost or ghost or two, and the Tower of London is no exception. An elegant translucent noblewoman, known as the White Lady, wanders the White Tower and leaves a distinct perfume in her wake. She’s been seen waving at children. Anne Boleyn’s headless ghost has been spotted all over the palace grounds as well as two young boys dressed in white gowns who are believed to be the aforementioned princes.