1067 the Normans built temporary fortifications in the south-east
corner of the Roman wall enclosing the City of London.
Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester
was given the task of building the keep in 1078. He
used white stone from Caen to build an impressive royal residence,
including a chapel and great hall, 90 feet high with 15 feet
This was the tallest building
in London and became known as the White Tower. William
II completed the work started by William the Conqueror and
in 1097 built a wall around the Tower.
the 12th century further buildings were added to the castle
but it wasn't until the reign of Henry III that work was clearly
recorded. Henry III carried out major rebuilding and redecoration
of the royal residence. The internal rooms were whitewashed
and so was the outside of the Tower.
Edward I was responsible for
building the outer curtain wall and towers and the digging
of the moat which were completed in 1281. He also built
the river entrance known as Traitors' Gate. By now the
site had expanded to 12 acres including an embankment built
along the river. It was at this time that the Royal
Mint was set up in the Tower and remained there until 1811.
VIII was mostly responsible that the appearance of the Tower
of London today. He also built a half-timbered royal
residence known as the King's House and the angle turrets
on the White Tower. During the 1530s the Tower ceased
to be a royal residence and after the Civil War the ancient
palace was demolished.
a royal residence the Tower was also used as a prison from
its early beginnings up to the 20th century. The last
prisoner held here was Rudolf Hess in 1941. It was through
Traitors' Gate that high-ranking prisoners would enter the
Tower. Many prisoners were executed on Tower Hill just
outside the castle and the last execution took place in 1747.
The atmosphere of the Tower at
the present date is the result of restoration carried out
by the architect Salvin in the 19th century. In 1875
the Tower was opened to the public for the first time.
Today the Tower houses the Crown
Jewels and the Royal Armouries. 40 Yeoman Warders
in Tudor regalia guard the Tower and one of these, the Ravenmaster,
looks after the famous ravens.