The Bagpiper

A Newsletter for Erwin & Related Families

Volume 5, Issue 1                          Sub Sole Sub Umbra Virens                    March 2006

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The Tower of London

There is more of London's history in the Tower than anywhere else. It is the oldest surviving building in London, dating from the Norman conquest. Even before that the site had been used by the Romans, and later by the Saxons as a fortress.
     From the eleventh century onwards the Tower served many purposes. It was always a fortress, but at various periods it was also a royal palace (King Charles II was the last monarch to reside there). It has a long history as a prison, and has a long list of unfortunate inmates, including kings, queens, princes and other nobles. King Henry VIII had several of his wives beheaded in the courtyard, and William Wallace was held in the Tower for three days before he was drawn and quartered just outside the walls.
     The oldest part of the Tower fortress is the White Tower pictured at left. It was built as a family residence by William the Conqueor in 1078 (his forces invaded and conquored England in 1066). The name is said to have originated during the reign of King Henry VIII who ordered the Tower to be whitewashed.
     Today the White Tower houses a unique collection of arms and armor, as well as various instruments of torture. The Chapel of St. John, located on the first floor, is one of the finest surviving examples of pure Norman architecture.