White Tower (Tower of London)

The White Tower
The White Tower

The White Tower is a central tower at the Tower of London. The great central keep was built by William the Conqueror and finished by his sons and successors, William Rufus and Henry I, around 1087. It is 90 feet high and is of massive construction, the walls varying from 15 feet thickness at the base to almost 11 feet in the upper parts. Above the battlements rise four turrets; three of them are square, but that on the northeast is circular. This turret once contained the first royal observatory.

In the White Tower the medieval kings of England lived with their families and their court. Here was the seat of government and here the laws of the land were made. The royal family lived in the top storey; the council chamber was on the floor below. In this chamber in 1399 Richard II was forced to sign away his throne, and in 1483 Richard III summarily sentenced Lord Hastings to death.

Its walls are now home to displays from the Royal armouries including original armours worn by Henry VIII and Charles I plus a reconstructed display of the massive collection of weapons once housed in the Grand Storehouse. Visit the 'Spanish Armoury' which contains The Tower's historic instruments of torture, including the infamous block and axe.

In 1974, there was a bomb explosion in the mortar room in the White tower leaving one person dead and 41 injured. No one claimed responsibility for the blast, however the police were investigating suspicions that the IRA was behind it.

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