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British history

Tower of London

An aerial view of the Tower of LondonAn aerial view of the Tower of LondonThe Tower of London is a castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It was founded in 1066 soon after the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was ordered to be built by William the Conqueror in around 1078. A grand fortified palace for monarchs early in its history, it became used as a prison in the 16th century, when its defences were no longer strong enough to withstand cannon fire. The Tower has also served as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie (collection of captive animals), the home of the Royal Mint, and the place where the British Crown Jewels are kept.


The White TowerThe White Tower

Building the Tower

Soon after his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror moved quickly to establish control over England's largest town, London. He ordered a fort to be built at the southeast corner of the Roman town walls, where the River Thames would provide additional protection from the south. A timber fence, or palisade, was constructed around the fort.

The Ceremony of the Keys, a special ceremony to lock up the Tower, has taken place every evening for at least 700 years. It is carried out by the Yeomen Warders. The Ceremony has only been delayed once, due to a nearby bomb blast during the Blitz in World War II.

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