Tower of London

ACM London & Florence: Day 4


Today Professor Kennedy gave us a tour of the Tower of London, a real castle (green space nearest its walls would have been a moat). It had a variety of defensive roles through the ages, from defense against outsiders to protecting a king from his own people. The castle that today is from a mix of renovations from many eras. The story of its architectural history reveals a general theme of London–expect stories beside, behind, and within other stories!

Sculptures of animals were displayed here and there throughout the castle as shades of a long ago menagerie.


The Tower of London became a tourist attraction long before this century. Curiously enough, the practice of keeping ravens around for ambiance continues to this day. There is a raven in the far right cage called Munin (what an interesting name!).

The White Tower is the structure in which the Royals lived. One of its four corners was curved (see right)–we learned that this was an easy way to tell that that part of the White Tower contained a chapel.

img_1998There was quite a formidable display of metal in the castle. Believe it or not, this exhibit called the Line of Kings has existed for hundreds of years, with some updated designs of course.


There was also this, created by an artist named John Harris. It’s a dragon composed of all sorts of weaponry.


Finally, we went into a circular room with walls covered in intricate carvings made by prisoners of the tower of London doomed to be executed.  There were beautiful carvings of religious symbols, headstone-like motifs, and also some poetry. In the photo above, the very rightmost figure is the carver’s representation of his own skeleton. It was eery and unforgettable to be with these prisoners in their time of darkness simply encountering the text and images they left behind.

Here are the words of the prisoner Thomas Miagh, 1581

Thomas Miagh which heth

here alone that Fayne would

from hence be gone by torture

straynge my truth was tried

yet of my liberty denied


——–Sunny Zhao, Grinnell College Student


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