Tag Archives: Tower of London

888,246 Poppies in the Moat at Tower of London

‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’  Poppies in the Moat – Historic Royal Palaces – Tower London

poppies in the moat at tower of london
Tower of London – the moat

From 5 August 2014 to 11 November 2014, a major artistic installation entitled ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ will see the Tower of London’s famous dry moat filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies to create a powerful visual commemoration for the First World War Centenary.

The ceramic poppies will be available to buy for £25 each from 5 August 2014 and the net proceeds, hoped to be in excess of £15 million if all poppies are sold, will be shared equally amongst a group of carefully selected Service charities.

The Legion is been one of the selected charities along with the Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO), Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes and SSAFA (formerly the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association).

“The significance of the vital work that these charities provide is one we must not forget and is especially poignant as we mark the anniversary of the First World War and remember all those who lived and fought during this time”. General the Lord Dannatt, Constable of the Tower.

The installation, in collaboration with ceramic artist Paul Cummins and theatre stage designer Tom Piper, will be unveiled on 5 August 2014, one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War.

The poppies, a symbol of Remembrance in the UK, will encircle the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower, but also an inspiring setting for performance and learning activities, as well as providing a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation intends to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary.

poppies in the moat at tower of london
poppies – www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk

There will be 888,246 poppies installed, one for each British and Colonial fatality during the war.

Visit the Historic Royal Palaces website for more information. http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/stories/firstworldwar/TheTowerofLondonRemembers

The poppies will be free to view from the outer perimeter of the Tower of London, however there is an entrance fee for visiting.

Tower of London, Tower Hamlets, London, EC3N 4AB
Nearest tube station: Tower Hill – Circle and District lines
Bus routes: 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1
Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

Nearest rail stations: Fenchurch Street or London Bridge
Follow directional signage from either station. Fenchurch Street is approx a 5 minute walk to the Tower, London Bridge 15 minutes.
Plan your journey: http://nationalrail.co.uk
– See more at: http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/planyourvisit/gettinghere/

The Tower is also served by all major sightseeing bus tours.

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Information on London Events, Exhibitions, Embassies, Places of Interest & much more


A note for overseas visitors: From July 6th buses on all London routes no longer accept cash.

oyster card travel in london
Oyster Card


Please check their website for details of how to buy a ‘Visitors’ Oyster (travel) card.
Oyster cards no longer needed
If you no longer need your Oyster card they’ll refund any remaining pay as you go credit, the remaining value of any Travel card or Bus & Tram Pass season ticket and the deposit, if you paid one.


To get a refund you can:
Take your Oyster card to a Tube station ticket office
Post your Oyster card to them
Call Customer Services 0343 222 1234
08:00-20:00, Monday to Sunday including public holidays


The Royal Watermen’s Tudor Pull – 11 May 2014

The Tudor Pull is an annual rowing event by the Royal Watermen between two great HRP Palaces, Hampton Court and H.M Tower of London.

annual events in london tudor pull
Hampton Court Palace

The Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’ rowed by the Royal Watermen is escorted by Thames Waterman’s Cutters, rigged with ceremonial canopies and flags, from Hampton Court to the Tower of London in order to deliver a ‘Stela’ to the Governor of the Tower.

The ‘Stela’ is a piece of ancient water pipe made from a hollowed tree trunk which stands on a base of timber from the old Richmond Lock and bears the coat of arms of the Watermen & Lightermen’s Company. The cutters are rowed by members of the Livery Companies of the City of London and, in keeping with tradition, each must carry a passenger.

annual events in london tudor pull
The Trinity Tide gets ready to join the flotilla – Tudor Pull

The event is organised by the Thames Traditional Rowing Association who support and promote the sport of fixed seat rowing and sculling on the River Thames in Waterman’s cutters.

Each year Her Majesty’s Royal Watermen complete a marathon row from Hampton Court Palace to the Tower of London, a distance of some 25 miles.

annual events in london tudor pull
The Gloriana pulls out into the middle of the River Thames at the start of the Tudor Pull

They do this to support the apprentices system of the trade of Thames Watermen and Lightermen and to   draw attention to London’s great underused asset ~ The River Thames. They also commemorate events of 1256 when Queen Eleanor’s royal barge sank under the old London Bridge with the loss of one of her courtiers, the Lady of the Bedchamber.

The Queen has a retinue of 22 appointed Watermen with her Royal Bargemaster to oversee and organise their duties~ these consist of accompanying Her Majesty when travelling on the river, at State visits and at the State Opening of Parliament.

Men are chosen for this honour for the dedication to their trade and for their prowess as oarsmen. Several of the men in the Queen’s retinue have competed in the Olympics and many in major events within the sport of rowing.

annual events in london tudor pull
The Trinity Tide – watermen’s cutter alongside the Gloriana passing Battersea Park

After the ceremony of accepting the ‘Stela’ at Hampton Court Palace HM Bargemaster carries the emblem, made from a slice of Medieval elm water-pipe, placing it aboard the Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’.

During the Tudor Pull the barge is accompanied by traditional oar powered Watermen’s Cutters belonging to the Livery Companies of the City of London dressed in their full company regalia, the Royal Shallop ‘The Jubilant’, the Watermen’s Shallop ‘LadyMayoress’ and by other craft from organisation and rowing clubs who preserve the sport of fixed seat rowing on the River Thames ~ this wonderful Royal high-way of the City of London.

annual events in london tudor pull
The Gloriana and flotilla including Liverymen’s cutters reach the City of Westminster

Following a short stop at Richmond the crews row down to the pool of London arriving at HM The Tower of London where the pageant disembark and the ‘Stela’, escorted by Yeoman Warder of the Tower, is processed to be presented to the Governor of H.M. Towerof London.

tudor pull annual events in london
The Gloriana arrives at the Tower of London

At a short ceremony he accepts the ‘Stela’ under his protection until it is returned to Hampton Court Palace for the following years procession.

The Tudor Pull is organised under the governance of the ‘Thames Traditional Rowing Association’.

More information at: http://www.traditionalrowing.com and http://www.jubilant.org.uk

and http://www.watermenshall.org/

and http://www.thamesalive.org.uk

For more information about annual and other events in London:

Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

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I have been very lucky to participate as an observer in the Tudor Pull.  The delightful craft I had the good fortune to travel on was the little ship ‘Verity’.

Many thanks to Malcolm K of Thames Alive and Peter who owns the ‘Verity’.


#AskHenryVIII – Monday 24th with Historic Royal Palaces

Historic Royal Palaces are doing a live Twitter Q&A with Henry VIII (#AskHenryVIII) on Monday 24 March between 8-9pm GMT They’re inviting the world to tweet the past and ask the Tudor monarch the questions which previously only 500 years of separation has kept them from asking. Their Co-Chief Curator (and Tudor expert) Tracy Borman will be providing accurate replies whilst a costumed interpreter will be providing photos, vines and videos of Henry VIII answering in real time. Twitter handle: @HRP_Palaces    Event hashtag: #AskHenryVIII

Henry VIII
Henry VIII

So who was Henry VIII, you might ask?  What were the Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber, and did he feel any remorse at having his wife’s head chopped off??

The man who was to become Henry VIII was born on 28 June 1491 at Greenwich Palace, the 3rd child and 2nd son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. On the death of his father Henry VII he became king and ruled as King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death on 28 January 1547 at the age of 55.

Henry was the 2nd Tudor monarch and besides being best know for his six marriages.  Henry was also known for his role in separating the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church.  He then established himself as the supreme Head of the Church of England. His struggles with Rome ultimately let to the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Henry originally used the style “Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England, France and Lord of Ireland”.

The style “Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth Supreme Head” remained in use until the end of Henry’s reign.

the passageway leading from the Chapel Royal to Henry VIII's apartments
the passageway leading from the Chapel Royal to Henry VIII’s apartments

During his reign, Henry was involved in the construction and improvement on several significant buildings: Nonsuch Palace, King’s College Chapel, Cambridge and Westminster Abbey in London, Christ Church Oxford, Hampton Court Palace, The Palace of Whitehall and Trinity College Cambridge.

westminster abbey north door
Westminster Abbey – North door

As a young man, Henry was athletic graceful and loved all sports, especially tennis.

the tennis courts at Hampton Court Palace
the tennis courts at Hampton Court Palace
Henry VIII as a young man before ascending to the throne
Henry VIII as a young man before ascending to the throne

Never one to shy away from the ladies, he was probably well aware that he cut a fine figure in his flowing white silk shirt.

The Venetian ambassador at court, Sebastian Giustiniani, was also impressed, describing the King in 1510 as ‘much handsomer than any other sovereign, a great deal prettier than the King of France. It was the prettiest thing in the world to see him play: his fair skin glowing through a shirt of the finest texture’.

Henry grew to be a big, strong man; over six feet tall and broad in proportion, excelling at jousting and hunting.

Henry married 6 times, the first being Catherine of Aragon who he married on 11 June 1509 in a low key ceremony at the friar’s church in Greenwich. On 23 June he led Catherine from the Tower of London to Westminster Abbey for their coronation, which took place the following day after which the was a grand banquet in Westminster Hall.

tower of london
The Tower of London

Henry’s 2nd wife, Anne Boleyn was born c 1501 at Blickling and grew up Hever Castle in Kent, was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536. She was executed on Tower Green at the Tower of London at 8am on 19 May 1536 accused of adultery, incest, and high treason.

site of execution - Tower Green
site of execution – Tower Green

The day after Anne’s execution Henry became engaged to Jane Seymour, previously one of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting, and married her 10 days later.  Jane gave birth to a son on 12 October 1537 but the birth was difficult and she died on 24 October from an infection and was buried at Windsor.  The boy, Prince Edward later became King Edward VI.  Henry recovered quickly from the shock and measures were set in place to find him another wife He married another three times after Jane but no further children were born or survived till birth.  Henry VIII of England had several children, many of whom were illegitimate. The three legitimate children who survived; the only son, Edward and youngest of the three became Edward VI, Mary I who succeeded Edward and Elizabeth I who subsequently succeeded Mary. Henry’s first two wives Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn had several pregnancies, all ending either in miscarriage, stillbirth or death in infancy. His last three wives, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr are not known to have conceived by him. Catherine survived Henry, married again and conceived.

It is suspected that he fathered a number of illegitimate children by many mistresses, the number and identity still a matter of historical debate. However, Henry did acknowledge one illegitimate child, Henry Fitzroy, as his own. The six women to hold the title “queen consort” of King Henry VIII were, in order: Catherine of Aragon (annulled; died while detained under guard at Kimbolton Castle) Anne Boleyn (annulled and later executed) Jane Seymour (died days after giving birth to prince Edward. her death is widely believed to be following birth complications) Anne of Cleves (annulled) – Following the annulment of their marriage, Anne was given a generous settlement by the King, and thereafter referred to as the King’s Beloved Sister.  Anne lived to see the coronation of Queen Mary I, and outlived the rest of Henry’s wives. Catherine Howard (annulled and later executed) was Queen of England from 1540 until 1541, as the fifth wife of Henry VIII, beheaded after less than two years of marriage on the grounds of treason for committing adultery. Catherine Parr (widowed) Six months after Henry’s death, she married her fourth and final husband, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. The marriage was short-lived, as she died in September 1548, probably of complications of childbirth.

King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII


Henry VIII was frequently characterised in his later life as a lustful, egotistical, harsh, and insecure king, who became morbidly obese. His heath suffered and he died in 1547.

Henry’s ‘motto’ was “Coeur Loyal” (“true heart”), and he had this embroidered on his clothes in the form of a heart symbol and with the word “loyal”.

His ’emblem’ was the Tudor rose and the Beaufort portcullis. Henry’s ‘coat of arms’ were the same as those used by his predecessors since Henry IV: Quarterly, Azure three fleurs-de-lys Or (for France) and Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or (for England).




Henry VIII was succeeded by his son Edward VI.

the coronation of Edward VI in 1547
the coronation of Edward VI in 1547

Line of Kings – sorting fact from fantasy

About 10 days ago I opened my direct messages on twitter and was astounded to discover an invitation to attend a Press Preview of the new Line of Kings exhibit at the Tower of London…was I interested? Heck yes!! I was interested….very!! :) I replied with alacrity and within a short space of time I had my printed invitation….I was, to say the least….bubbling with excitement!! I love the Tower of London and to be invited to this Press Preview was beyond amazing.

line of kings tower of london
The Opening Ceremony at the Tower of London

On the day, I set off really early, and arrived just in time to watch the Opening Ceremony! How cool is that! I was met at the gate by the lovely Emma and Ella who kindly escorted me through the gate and over to the White Tower where the Line of Kings exhibition is located.

Wow!!! The Royal Armouries in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces have endeavoured to sort fact from fantasy to correct any historical errors and have transformed what is apparently the longest running visitor attraction in the world! I remembered my first impression of the previous exhibit, that feeling of awe as you entered the attraction and saw that line of horses for the first time!!! Amazing!!

line of kings tower of london
image of an older Line of Kings exhibition

“For over 300 years, visitors to the Tower of London have marvelled at displays featuring arms and royal armour, life-sized wooden horses and figures of kings”. The new exhibition has arranged the horses and suits of armour in what feels to me like a journey…through time!

“After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, this exhibition – like the Crown Jewels – was used to promote the king’s right to rule. Re-arranged and dispersed over the centuries the exhibits have been brought back together again, to show it off in all its glory”.

Many famous and surely a few infamous people have visited this exhibition over the last 350 years (imagine!!); Samuel Pepys, Lodewiky Huygens (1652) and many other people over the years including Jouvin de Rochefort; French mapmaker, traveller & writer, IbrahimPasha; Viceroy of Egypt in 1848 and in 1860… Empress Eugenia; Empress of the French.

line of kings tower of london
Samuel Pepys

The Line of Kings opened to the public on 10 July 2013 and is intended to leave you awed and amazed. A stable of magnificent carved wooden horses, some of which are about 325 years old, the oldest of which (although not conclusively proved) was possibly carved by Grinling Gibbons, apparently it has all the hallmarks of his particular style. Many of these magnificent creatures are incredibly fragile and as you can imagine they have to be carefully placed so as not to incur any damage. Despite that, the creators of this marvellous exhibition has cleverly ‘seated’ riders in full armour onto the backs of a few of them. One almost feels envious really….I would love to be riding that beautiful animal! Not sure I could manage the armour though, it looks incredibly heavy.

line of kings tower of london
Knight on his horse

But wait!! Walk just a wee bit further and be amazed at the magnificent figure of Henry VIII seated on his enormous steed; in full armour, he must have looked quite terrifying! Look closer at this silvered and engraved armour dated about 1515 and see the most beautiful story – hidden amongst the twirls and whorls are figures of St George and his dragon, St Barbara, Tudor Roses and pomegranates; celebrating the marriage of Henry VIII to Katherine of Aragon. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into this beautiful suit of armour, surely created by a master-craftsman! Paul van Vrelant in Greenwich. It is accompanied by elaborately engraved Flemish-made horse armour.

Continue your journey and just beyond what is a most awe-inspiring wall of breast-plates; designed to shock and awe, is the Field and Tournament armour of Henry VIII dated 1540. Henry was 49 by this stage and rather over-weight as the size of the armour will testify. This is the type of armour known as a garniture; a single armour with a set of alternative pieces that could be combined to create different armours for use in a variety of different tournament events or in battle.

line of kings tower of london
an awe-inspiring wall of armour; breast plates

Just beyond that is the exquisite gilt armour of Charles I, considerably smaller than that of Henry VIII (who was well over 6foot tall) and yet far more beautiful. This spectacular armour was actually made for Henry, Prince of Wales, Charles I’s older brother. On Henry’ death in 1612, Charles inherited his armour – and four years later his title. The surface is covered in gold leaf with engraved and punched foliage decoration. Just beautiful. Of course history was not kind to Charles I and he lost his head at Banqueting House. (look out for a fabulous new exhibition coming up there in the near future).

Besides those amazing items, there are a number of star objects, some of which were not included in the previous exhibitions. To be seen in this exhibition is a stunning Burgonet helmet, about 1600, a beautiful early 15th century saddle from either Austria or Hungary, its bone plaques decorated with dragons…possibly a gift from the emperor Sigismund to King Henry V, and many other superb armours once worn by nobles and pikemen.

line of kings tower of london
a beautiful early 15th century saddle

The exhibition also includes curiosities like the armours of the ‘Giant’, the ‘Dwarf’ and the gift from the ‘Great Mogul’ and incredible suit of armour that is in total contrast to the other armours.

As I continued my journey through the exhibition I passed what is definitely the most macabre part of the whole exhibition…..the unique wooden heads of the monarchs; individually carved to show the likenesses of historic kings….Henry VIII dominates the cabinet and frankly he doesn’t look like a happy chappie. It’s quite weird looking at these faces from the past and it gave me a bit of a chill up my spine.

I met John who had sent me the invitation and a few of the lovely Historic Royal Palaces representatives and was treated to a tour of the exhibition by the very entertaining and knowledgable Bridget Clifford; Keeper of Collections and met the lovely Claire of @TinctureOfMuse who was on the same tour. :) Afterwards, I spent a very happy 3 hours in the White Tower, reading the stories and photographing the various items in the Line of Kings exhibition. In fact I stayed so long I almost got locked in!!! One very startled Security Guard unlocked the outer door to let me out once I had explained that in fact I was an invited guest and not trespassing!! He graciously showed me the door and didn’t lock me away and lose the key!! :)

Line of Kings is now on display in the White Tower as from 10 July 2013 and is included in your Tower of London ticket.

line of kings tower of london
Line of Kings

For more about the exhibition and to plan your visit to the Tower of London click through to their website to check visiting days and times and entrance prices.

line of kings tower of london
Tower of London

Join me on twitter and facebook and if youre on instagram or flickr, do join me there for more scenes of London. We recently released an App; its free and you can download yours here for apple or android here. Thanks for dropping by, I hope you have been inspired to visit this amazing exhibition. Feel free to share this article with anyone you think may be interested in visiting the Tower of London. Enjoy your visit….do leave a comment if you happen to visit and tell me of your experience.

a place of execution; a melancholy place….

A few days ago I visited the Tower of London to see their latest exhibition: Coins and Kings: The Royal Mint at the Tower.

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition (for more about that see my previous post) and then I went walkabout.  I have visited the Tower of London dozens of times in the past and most especially since becoming a member of Historic Royal Palaces, and yet I never tire of walking around and revisiting many of the exhibitions and especially the Towers.  One of the places I always stop at is the beautiful sculpture on Tower Green.  Tower Green contains this evocative memorial to the people who died here by order of the state.

The inscription on the base is poignant and I often wonder what must have been the thoughts of the people in their final hours.

‘Gentle visitor pause awhile : where you stand death cut away the light of many days : here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life : may they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage : under there restless skies’.

tower of london, anne boyelyn
pause awhile….

Brian Catling is the creator of the execution site memorial.

“Execution inside the Tower, away from the gawping crowds, was a privilege reserved for those of high rank, or for those who had dangerously strong popular support”.

execution memorial tower of london anne boyelyn
execution memorial sculpture

The best-known among those executed on or near the site of the memorial are the three queens of England: Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, barely in her twenties, and Lady Jane Grey, who was only sixteen.

Anne Boleyn:  Executed: 19 May 1536 The Tower of London

Buried: 19 May 1536 Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London

Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London
Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London as seen from the site

For more information about Tower Green visit their site.

The Tower of London surely deserves it’s honour as one of the Top Ten Attractions in London…well worth a visit at any time of the year.

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