The Tower of London, built on the north bank of the Thames to face Tower Bridge, was once a secure fortress, a royal palace and infamous prison.
The Tower’s origins date back to the Norman conquest of England in 1066, when William the Conqueror built the White Tower, which gives the castle its name. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952 (with the last ‘guest’ being the famous Kray twins), though the primary purpose of the Tower was to be a grand palace and royal residence.
The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history, serving as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, a public record office, and is now famously the home of the Crown Jewels of England, a world-famous collection of 23,578 gemstones still used in royal and national ceremonies.
Today, the Tower of London is one of the capital’s most famous landmarks and most popular tourist attractions, with the iconic Yeoman Warders (popularly known as ‘Beefeaters’) entertaining visitors with tales of the Tower’s occasionally dark history.
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