Tower of London


Its name is thought to have derived from the Celtic word Londinios which means, the place of the brave one.

The Romans realised the strategic position of this small celtic settlement and by c.50AD it had become a thriving town of some 45,000 people and a port for ocean going ships. Fed by the deep tidal water of the River Thames, London, for the most part, was safe from foreign raiders.

After the destruction of King Harold’s fighting forces at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror and his Norman army marched north. At Little Berkhampstead, just north of London, William received the leading churchmen and dignitaries, who transferred their allegiances to him,

before he marched into London as their ruler.

William then set about building a motte and bailey castle close to the old Roman, east city, wall and the River. There is some belief, however, that there was a second motte near the present Martin Tower. The same year as the great victory, William was crowned King, on Christmas Day, at Westminster Abbey.

The unction, part of the coronation ceremony was performed by Aldred, Archbishop of York. Aldred probably incorporated the rite known as the Third English Ordo, transforming the mortal William

into a consecrated ‘rex’, ‘God’s anointed one’.

About the year 1077, The textus Roffensis (register of the cathedral priory of Rochester) describes,

“while the same Gundulf, by command of King William the Great,

was in charge of the work of the great tower of London”.

So, it can be reasonably assumed that Bishop Gundulf designed and built the Tower of London and it would have taken at least ten years. The stone used for the construction was Kentish rag, although septaria, sometimes called Dragonstone, was chiefly used in the plinth, and the ashlar dressings were originally of Caen but over the years the exterior has been restored using Portland stone.

The castle over the centuries has had its reputation tarnished as a place to be

sent to for punishment or worse!

Of course it was originally built as a dominant power feature as well as a secure palace for the Norman Kings. As such, its defences were modified/improved, especially under King Edward I in the 13th century, using the very latest military design ideas of the day, turning it into a form of concentric castle.

To prove the point, although the castle was besieged several times, it was never taken.

Today it is in the care of, Historic Royal Palaces, an independent charity,

and is open to the public.

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