Short after he became king in 1066, William the Conqueror constructed the Tower of London to protect the entrance to London from the Thames Estuary. In 1097, the White Tower, standing at present at the middle of the complex, was completed in sturdy stone; other buildings have been added over the centuries to create a powerful and formidable fortress.
The tower has served as a royal residence, an armory, a treasury, and, most famously, as a prison for enemies of the crown. The tower has been prison to kings, queens, and notorious figures all through its historical past. Early prisoners in the Tower of London, who have been sentenced to execution, could look ahead to a drawn-out death. Within the 14th and fifteenth centuries, many would have been hanged, drawn, and quartered, or burned at the stake, though some might have been stretched on a rack first. Others have been disemboweled or hacked to pieces. Today, the tower is a popular attraction, housing the Crown Jewels and different priceless reminders of royal might and wealth.
THE CROWN JEWELS
One of many world’s finest-recognized collections of valuable objects in the Tower of London includes the regalia of crowns, orbs, scepters and swords used at coronations and different state events. Just a few older items survived, hidden till the restoration of the monarchy in 1660-notably, Edward the Confessor’s sapphire ring, now integrated into the Imperial State Crown. The crown was remade for Queen Victoria and has been worn at coronations since.
THE WHITE TOWER
Work on the White Tower, the oldest surviving construction in the tower, was begun in 1078. It was designed as a palace-fortress to accommodate the king and the Constable of the Tower of London, the garrison commander. Each had their very own rooms, together with a corridor for public events, a partitioned chamber, and a chapel. When the fortress was enlarged a century later, king and constable moved to new residences. On the higher two stories, the monarch’s elegant royal suite was used to hold distinguished prisoners.