This week, we have taken a bit of a holiday and decided to visit my family in Essex and Suffolk. During every family visit we always try to visit a London attraction and during this trip we decided to visit The Tower of London.
The Tower of London is steeped in nearly 1000 years of history, with monarchs throughout the ages extending the castle walls during their reigns. The saying, “if walls could talk, the things they would tell us” really does apply to this historic building, as it has been used as a stronghold, an armoury, a safe house for the Crown Jewels, a prison, a place of execution, a tourist attraction and a home, amongst other things. As well as a place of historic value to Great Britain it is also a place of beautiful architecture and it is hard to not relish in the beautiful structure itself.
So how does it fair as a tourist attraction and is it really worth the visit?
Getting to the place itself is relatively easy, the fabulous thing about London is that the underground tube system connects it all so well. However travelling by tube with a baby and a pushchair in tow is not for the faint hearted and is most definitely not a job for one person to embark on by themselves. Luckily for us, we were travelling from Essex via the C2C line that takes you straight into Fenchurch Street, which is about a five minute walk from the museum. If you are travelling by tube, travel information is available from Transport for London.
For the four of us (myself, Mr. C, my Mum and Oliver) the admission fee would have been £73.50 but thankfully My Mum paid using her airmiles (now known as Avios), which saved us rather a lot of money. For a full list of admission prices take a look Admission fees for Tower of London.
My Dad took me to visit the Tower of London when I was a child and I remember the Ravens were always strolling freely around the green. The legend of the Ravens is that the tower will fall if the Ravens ever leave. However during my recent visit I only saw a few Ravens that were kept in cages. Although there are apparently seven ravens currently residing at the Tower of London, perhaps you will have better luck seeing them than we did.
The Tower of London is steeped in a dark history and this is strongly felt when you see engravings on the walls that once imprisoned the people that were kept there. This element of the building brought the fact that these are not just fictional stories that surround the Tower but the lives of actual people who once walked the corridors, climbed the stairwells and resided within the Tower walls (albeit not always from choice).
The Tower also highlights the presence of historical figures such as Anne Boleyn and Guy Fawkes and the presence they still have to this day. During our visit we actually saw Anne Boleyn wandering around (not a ghostly figure, an actual person dressed as Anne Boleyn), which I felt brought history to life so to speak, especially for children.
There are a lot of interactive elements to the museum, such as short video clips explaining the history of different parts of the Tower of London, which was great for anybody interested in British or English history. There are also a lot of Yeoman Warders also known as ‘Beefeaters’ that readily give you information or help you find your way. I asked one of them if anybody actually lives in the various houses dotted around the grounds and he told me all about how the beefeaters themselves live in the cottage like houses.
As you explore the museum, you will also notice the Queens Guard, who are not just there for show but are actually military trained soldiers entrusted with the job to protect official royal residences.
Of course you can’t visit the Tower of London without taking a look at the Crown Jewels. Beautifully crafted crowns and maces, encrusted with the biggest diamonds I have ever seen are lined inside glass cabinets. This part of the visit was particularly interesting to myself and Oliver as we both love anything shiny and sparkly, Mr.C often refers to us both as magpies.
Visiting the Tower of London with a pushchair did make getting around it rather tricky and during several parts, I had to wait outside with Oliver and the pushchair. So in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t recommend this as a tourist attraction for people with pushchairs and wheelchairs as a lot of the museum wouldn’t be easily accessible to them. There was also a lot of building and restoration work going on during our visit, meaning it was even more awkward to get around with a pushchair. However, overall I would say this is a London monument worth visiting, although if we visit again, I would wait until the building and restoration work is complete and my children no longer require a pushchair.