“If only these walls could talk” – Tales of intrigue at the Tower of London

Quite the history buff, I was unable to contain my glee at having the opportunity to amble amongst the footsteps of long-ago generations whilst gallivanting around the British capital.  Meandering along the cobblestoned pathways that Shakespeare himself trod upon, I was giddy at being able to finally immerse myself into the rich literary world of William Blake, Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens.  Virtually oozing hundreds of years of history, with sacred churches and gilded palaces regally scattered on every which corner, their crumbling and restored facades seeping with tales of intrigue, privilege and power.

Ever fascinated by the Tudor dynasty, especially with daily life at Hampton Court, the reign of King Henry Vlll and his six wives continued to pique my curiosity about what it was like to reside in the 16th century.  The scandals, the clandestine forbidden liaisons and, of course, the beheadings were topics that continued to enthrall my wildly over-active imagination and send it to places of no return.  I therefore could not wait until I firmly placed my pink-sneakered foot onto London’s famously arresting (literally!!) Tower of London and come face to face with history.  Ravenously poring over hundreds of books that documented the tragic and gruesome events that had transpired over the centuries in this medieval fortress, I was anxious to finally be witness to this unsavoury past.

The Tower of London has quite the ghastly and morbid history, imprisoning and executing a number of tragic souls, the majority of them undeserving of such a dreadful fate.  Locked up on trumped up charges of treason, adultery and espionage, neither paupers nor royals were exempt from imprisonment in the Tower.  Coups and plots of overthrow ruled supreme, as rival family members sought to usurp the other in their blood thirsty desire for prestige and power.  Depending upon the political allegiances of the day, one could literally be a court favourite today yet find himself on the chopping block the next.  From Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen for only 9 days, to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, a parade of Queens have been mercilessly executed at the infamous Tower, all upon royal orders.

“If only these walls could talk” took on an entirely new meaning, as I pondered what hopes, desires and secrets the cold stone slabs held, forever sealed in mystery behind those ancient padlocked prison gates. It is unfortunate then, that I didn’t have the chance to see for myself the inside of this massive medieval fortress, for alas, I had arrived at the World Heritage Site quite late in the afternoon, a couple of minutes before the questionably early 5:00pm closing time.  Yikes!!  Scheduled to depart London the following day for the next leg of my journey to the white cliffs of Dover, I had to content myself with merely traipsing around the grounds of this sprawling edifice and stock up on even more reading material in the Tower of London souvenir bookstore.

Vowing to return to London sometime within the next couple of months and spend a full two days visiting the Tower, I consoled my disappointment and indulged with a few pints of Guinness and jumped feet first into history, eagerly devouring page after page of my newly purchased Tudor history books.

Pink Sneaker Tidbits of Info about the Tower of London:

Legend has it that if the six ravens (there is one to spare) were to fly away from the Tower of London, the city as well as the fortress would ultimately fall.  Why take any chances then? Their wings are therefore clipped in order to prevent such a possibility from coming to fruition.

The black ravens are treated as minor celebrities and are catered to with an impressive menu of delicacies such as only ravens would dare to lunch on - raw meat, biscuits soaked in blood (yuck!!) and furry rabbits (double yuck!!).

The Crown Jewels were almost stolen in 1671 by an appropriately named “Thomas Blood” who brazenly attempted to walk out of the fortress with the priceless gems. Surprisingly though, he was pardoned by the King who must have admired the Colonel’s sheer gall and tenacity in attempting to pull off such an incredulous feat.  I read somewhere that he was also gifted a parcel of land by the monarch, but am unable to verify whether that is either fact or fiction.

Animals of all sorts were also “imprisoned” in the infamous Tower, its menagerie home to a lion, hyena, owls, monkeys and even an elephant! A polar bear gifted by the King of Norway in 1252, frequently swam in the river Thames and caught fish for his supper while tethered to an extremely long leash.

Come walk through the corridors of history as you listen in to the tales and whispers of royal intrigue, treason and drama, carefully guarded secrets of the walls of the Tower of London.

Next week – What adventures lie ahead for the Kid and Miss Pink Sneakers?? Stay tuned!!

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