Grand Tour of Great Britain Tower of London and The Thames River

It's Saturday morning, October 21, 2017 (almost three weeks ago now) and today we visit the Tower of London and cruise along the Thames from the Tower to Big Ben.

We have an 8:30 lobby call, only Jay, me and Jeff are going on this tour. The others are spending the day on their own in London.

We take a small cab from our hotel to the Tower. Along the way we pass the famous Ritz Hotel.
It is a  5-star hotel located in Piccadilly and is a symbol of high society and luxury; the hotel is one of the world's most prestigious and best known hotels.

We arrive at the Tower and meet our guide Vicki. She'll be taking us around and showing us all the creepy and interesting things about this fortress.

The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. 

It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. 

The castle was used as a prison from 1100 (Ranulf Flambard) until 1952 (Kray twins), although that was not its primary purpose. 

The Traitors Gates
The water-gate under St Thomas's Tower has been known for over 400 years as 'Traitors' Gate' because of the number of prisoners, accused of treason, who have passed through it.

Unfortunate and important state prisoners were committed to the Tower of London through the River Thames entrance to the Tower of London called Traitors Gate. The journey of these prisoners was made by barge along the River Thames. Often their journey would take them past London Bridge where the heads of recently executed traitors were displayed on the roof of the stone gate house.

Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth I, made her journey through Traitors Gate after her sister Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) ordered her arrest believing that the Princess was involved with Sir Thomas Wyatt and a rebellious plot. 

Princess Elizabeth was taken on Palm Sunday 1554, by barge, to the entrance of the Tower of London - Traitors Gate. Her mother, Anne Boleyn had also passed through Traitors Gate and had been executed at the Tower when Elizabeth was just three years old. The princess was terrified - she believed that she would never leave the Tower once she had passed through Traitors Gate. Elizabeth refused at first to land at the gate, angrily proclaiming that she was no traitor. There was a heavy down pour of rain. Elizabeth had no choice but to be lead into the Tower. At the age of 21, Princess Elizabeth was taken through the Traitors Gate and imprisoned in the Tower of London. She was released 8 weeks later.

You can meet at the gate and take a tour with one of the Yeoman Warders.

The Crown Jewels may be see but NO PHOTOS and no stopping, you are on a conveyor belt that keeps the crowds moving.

A famous murder? 
King Edward V's uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester was declared Lord Protector while the prince was too young to rule. Traditional accounts have held that the 12-year-old Edward was confined to the Tower of London along with his younger brother Richard. The Duke of Gloucester was proclaimed King Richard III in July. The princes were last seen in public in June 1483; it has traditionally been thought that the most likely reason for their disappearance is that they were murdered late in the summer of 1483.

The Tower also hosts a great collection of armor and The Line of Kings.

Even a modern sculpture can be seen made with armaments that were in storage-Dragon

Execution for the rich and famous traitors took place inside the walls, not in public. Or if you were a very popular traitor, you were executed here too.

Three queens were executed here.
Two of those queens were wives of Henry VIII. Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, was in her early 30's and Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, was barely in her 20's. Both were accused of adultery, but neither may have been guilty.

The third queen to meet her end within the Tower was 16-year-old Lady Jane Grey. She was on the throne for just nine days, and was the innocent pawn in a failed military coup by her father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland.

This fountain marks the spot of the executions.

We leave the Tower of London behind and hop on a boat for our cruise down the Thames.

Along the way we pass old buildings and very new and modern ones.

The Tower Bridge.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

The lions keep watch on the Thames for flooding.
“When the lions drink, London will sink. When it’s up to their manes, we’ll go down the drains.”

London Eye

Our cruise ends at the base of Big Ben and Parliament.

We grab lunch and a pint at St. Stephens Tavern. Then head back to the hotel after grabbing a carpet picnic dinner and beer.

The crescent across from our hotel.

More photos of the Tower of London and Thames: CLICK HERE

Our final day in England will be spent visiting Oxford.

Grand Tour of Great Britain with Go Ahead Tours

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