My life at the Tower of London
People and Places (or I remember when......)
This page has a selection of the people we've met and the places and events we have been to whilst we were living in the Tower of London.
A night in the Club
The Yeoman Warders have their own club within the walls of the Tower. It is open every evening except Sundays and is for the Yeoman Warders, their families and guests only. It was run by the Yeoman Warders and their families on a volunteer basis, that is that a couple of them would volunteer to run the club for two weeks at a time. It was during a two week stint that our Daughter was managing the Club that she mistook a small group of gentlemen as being a deaf group due to the 'hearing aid and wire hanging down the back of their ears'. The small group were members of America's Secret Service who were in the Club as the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, has been invited to come in. Rob and I were in the club at the time with a friend of ours who was also a member of the Secret Service, who fell about laughing when he found out that our daughter had thought it was a party of deaf people and so was talking slowly and loudly at them, making hand gestures for drinks! Steve, our friend, sent an email off that night back to Washington D.C., to make them aware of their 'special needs' group.
Borough Market is on the South of the river Thames and is about a five minute walk from the Tower. It is an over-sized farmers market and a wonderful place to walk round and take in the sights and sample the offerings. We would go there at least once a week and use the displays as a buffet, sampling the fares on our way through the stalls. Top quality food!
Epping Forest is on the outskirts of London and is accessible by Tube. We would sometimes take our dogs there for a walk, an experience itself taking dogs on the tube! We were a little disappointed with the Forest as it has been sectioned off, you are unable to walk from one side to the other without going through golf courses and housing estates, but what remains is rather beautiful. http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/epping-forest/Pages/default.aspx
This is a shot of the inside of Tower Bridge along the top. Tower Bridge is situated next to the Tower so it was easy access from there. Most people when first seeing it think that it was built around the same time as the Tower, but in fact it wasn't built until the 1890's, the architect designed it specifically with the Tower in mind so that it would compliment the Tower and fit in. Well worth a look if you get a chance.
Rob Lowe and his family came for a visit to the Tower, and like a few of the famous that come to look round, they asked if they could have an early tour on their own. Robin (Hubby) was the Yeoman who took them round. When he had finished he came home for a quick break and cuppa and told me who he had just given a tour too, well I was out of the apartment and down the stairs so fast that I didn't even put the kettle on for him.
Of course Rob Lowe wasn't the only celebrity to come to the Tower while we were there, Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Fry, Dan Ackroyd, Woody Allen, Madonna, The Chopper Boys, and Sir Tim Rice also came along to name but a few. Annie Lenox, of the Eurythmics, walked around the moat with our daughter and two of our spaniels when she and others were playing for the Prince's Trust 2006 which was held in the moat of the Tower that year.
Jack the Ripper
Living five minutes from Whitechapple, taking a Ripper Tour is a must. There are many tour companies that offer a guided walk around the sites of the murders and they meet early evenings at Tower Hill tube station. The one we took was Ripping Yarns - From Hell tour. Excellent tour and value for money. http://rippingyarnstours.com/
Greenwich market is on Sundays, it is a couple of tube stops away from the Tower. Once you've had a look around the market you then have the park to walk around as well as taking in the Observatory.
Explore the beach
Once a year the beach along Tower Wharf is opened up to allow the public to go down onto the foreshore and see what ancient article they can find. All the articles are then collated to continue to build up the history of London. I did this once, I didn't find much mainly old pieces of water pipes.
Every year the Tower hosts Music in the Moat and as residents of the Tower we are given complimentary tickets to the shows. We have been lucky to see many artists, from Acker Bilk to the Pet Shop Boys.
Taking a walk along the South Bank was a favourite pass time of ours as there was always something different happening.
The Tower moat is where as residents we walked our dogs. It is completely safe as of course it is walled in. We did use to get some funny looks from those passer-byes above on the walkways, and sometimes a few comments were shouted down. As residents we get to see parts of the Tower that others do not, around the back of the outerwall, at the outer edge of the moat you can see Roman remains, these are railed off, however, we regularly had to retrieve our springer spaniel when he was young as he would like nothing more but to go for a treasure hunt in the remains; and trying to get a springer out from behind railings does take some time and a few heated words too! It is also where the childrens playground is located for the residents' children.
Of course being the moat it used to hold water, this was all drained in the 1800's by the Duke of Wellington, however, there is a 'token' of what it was like, by traitors gate. It is only about a foot deep, (30cm) and it is only for show. Again having spainiels trying to keep them away from water is like trying to stop the sun from rising everyday. Our spaniels could often been seen 'swimming' in the moat, Branston used to like to bring us rocks and pebbles from around Traitors gate, which we then had to take back. Great fun for him and exhausting for us!
Evening/night walks in the Tower
Evening and Night time was great at the Tower, all the visitors had gone and so the place was ours. Spring through to Autumn we used to take an evening walk with our dogs, down to the moat, then out around the outside of the Tower before coming back in before the Ceremony of Keys. On warm nights we would sit outside on one of the benches and listen to the blackbird singing. It was amazing how peaceful it was inside the walls at night, considering we were right in the middle of the city with busy roads right next to us. Looking up at the White Tower at night with the fold lights on it, really made you think and bout all that has happened there, all the history, it made you feel quite humble. One of my favourite views at night was on top of the wall walk looking out towards Tower Bridge.
We sometimes met people who had arrived too late to enter the Tower, and sometimes we would invite them in as our guests and give them a tour round, to which the mouths were always open in sheer wonder of such a majestic place. On one of our evening walks we encountered a gentleman called Steve, from Texas and his daughter Brittany, Brittany was about 14 and she had arrived that morning from the States to visit her Dad in London for a day before the pair of them flew out the next morning to Paris to meet up with their wife and mother. We saw them just by the lower entrance to Tower Hill tub station and Steve was telling Brittany all about the history on the posts and how he was so sorry for not getting them there in time to go into the Tower. We stopped and started chatting to them and invited them in with us to see the Ceremony of the Keys and to have a walk round with us. I don't think they believed that we lived there until at the gates the security guard came up and opened them to allow us is. I took our dogs home and met up with them by the Medieval Palace (above Traitors Gate). We took them into the Palace where there was a long table against one wall and a throne on the wall adjacent to it (the Medieval Palace has since been refurbished). Steve and his daughter and Rob sat down at the table and I took a few photos for them, the lighting wasn't that fantastic being evening time, however when they all got up to go I watched as their shadows followed them out of the room, and then noticed that there was one more shadow sat at the table without a body in front of it. A little strange I thought, so I said aloud 'Well I'm off now, and I have to lock up' and with that the shadow got up and left.......very strange! Steve and Brittany were thrilled with the tour and couldn't thank us enough, we were only too happy to be able to share the history with them.
One night I had some friends in from the American Embassy and we were walking round and chatting taking photos; we were on the South Wall Walk with the Tower Bridge in the background and I was asked to photo of the group, I did, only every time I took the shot, when checking the photo, my friend David had what looked like an orange/yellow large flame coming out of the top of his head. There was no such light in the background, so I took the shot again and again there was the flame coming out of David's head. I switched the positions around of the group so that David wasn't stood in the same place but it was still there on the taken photograph, it didn't matter where he stood it would always appear on the print, if he wasn't in the group shot then the image would not be there too! We decided that he must be possessed and therefore had to pay for the next two round of drinks! lol Again very strange ........