Destinations Magazine

It's a London Thing No.46: The Tower of London

By Lwblog @londonwalks
It's a London Thing No.46: The Tower of LondonIt’s a London Thing is our Wednesday series in which we turn the spotlight on a unique aspect of London – perhaps a curious shop, sometimes an eccentric restaurant, a hidden place, book or oddity. The subject matter will be different every week. The running theme, however, will remain constant: you have to come to London to enjoy it. It’s A London Thing.

It’s 7.50p.m. A call comes through to London Walks.
“I’m late for the Jack the Ripper Walk and the group have gone. Where can I catch up with them?”
A common call. Mary and David and Noel and Fiona are well used to it, and can usually get you back into the fold in no time.
“Put The Tower to your left hand,” they advise, “and turn right at the first corner. Then…”
“Er, hang on… I can’t see a tower.”
A fair point, this.
Since the year 1097, when building on The White Tower was completed, ambitious architects have been reaching ever-further into the sky. We’ve had (in no particular order) Twin Towers (at 1727 feet), the Eifel (1063 feet), the CN (1815 feet), Sears (1730 feet) and the dear old BT (626 feet) – this last, whilst a pigmy compared to the others mentioned, still dwarfs The Tower of London which clocks in at a mere 90 feet.
In light of this it seems reasonable that some first time visitors may well say: “Er, hang on… I can’t see a tower… is it near the big castle?”
Well it IS the “big castle”.
And big is the key. Indeed a quick Google of the single word “tower” yields a search headed-up by The Tower of London (endearingly, the Blackpool Tower was second!).
At 90 feet it may not dominate the 21st Century skyline. But it the 1090s, we would have looked at the imposing edifice on the waterfront with a gulp. “Them Normans,” we would have said to ourselves, “they mean business. They’re serious people.”
(Perhaps they needed such a statement of authority given that their haircuts, if the Bayeux Tapestry is to be believed, were snigger-worthy in the extreme.)
It's a London Thing No.46: The Tower of LondonSome two-and-a-half million visitors came in 2010 to see what all the fuss is about. And while the Tower of London may not loom over the famous modern towers of the world, it certainly does loom large in London history.
Beheadings, imprisonments, defence of our island realm, the royal family’s past, the royal family’s present, an ongoing love of pageantry (red uniforms abound) and folklore (the ravens) – the history of the entire nation is embodied in the building commonly known as simply The Tower.
Substance really does win out over size at this World Heritage Site.
The Tower of London. It’s A London Thing.
(Metric measurements for the towers mentioned? Sorry, we don’t do metric. That’s A London Thing, too.)
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