Historical information

The beginning

After the victory of the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror, crowned at Westminster in 1066, decided to fortify London, the new capital city. It was edified next to the Thames to make London both an forteress and an access to the city.

To secure the threatened side of the Tower that is the sea, he elevated a clod in the south-east cost of the old roman wall. The Whiter Tower which is the central tower of the monument took 30 years to be erected and her construction finished in 1100.

In the 12th century

Plenty of destructions happened during Henri I’s and II’s reign with civil wars. The only piece still visible at this time are the rests of the “Wardrobe Tower”, in the east cost of the White Tower. During the reign of the king Richard I (also known as The Lion Heart), archbishop of Ely extended the west coast of the fortress.

In the South-West coast was built the Bell Tower and one of the last parts of the ramparts of this era are located between this tower and the “Bloody Tower”. In addition to the ramparts, the ditches were extended.

In the 13th century (under the reign of Henry III)

It was under the long reign of Henry III (56 years) that the Tower of London has undergone the most changes since its construction. At first, he built the Wakefield and Lanthorn towers in the south as well as the "Bloody Tower" which will serve as a valve for the water of the Thames. Then expansions to the North and West took place, as well as reinforcements at the level of the fortifications.

The main entrance was built in the South West and it’s made of several buildings: the "Lion Tower", the "Middle Tower", the "Byward Tower" connected by "West Causeway" overlooking the moat. Another gateway to the land was built in the Southeast guarded by the "Devlin Tower" and the "Well Tower".

Then many towers have been built: the "Devereux Tower", the "Flint Tower", the "Bowyer Tower", the "Brick Tower", the "Martin Tower", the "Constable Tower", the "Broad Arrow Tower" and finally the "Salt Tower". In front of this wall was extended the ditch. Before this expansion to the north, St Peter Ad Vincula Royal Chapel and its cemetery were encompassed by the enclosure of the Tower.

In the 13th century (under the reign of Edward I)

His construction program quickly eclipsed his father's: he had the defenses of the Tower extended in all directions. He will organize the construction of the entire outer wall and moats all around. Originally this wall was quite low and the main defenses were on the inside wall. The northwest was now defended by the "Legge's Mount", whose interior was open and composed of a gallery that went around the building.

The main entrance was built in the South West and it’s made of several buildings: the "Lion Tower", the "Middle Tower", the "Byward Tower" connected by "West Causeway" overlooking the moat. Another gateway to the land was built in the Southeast guarded by the "Devlin Tower" and the "Well Tower".

Croquis de la tour (vers 1300)

Towards the end of the Middle Ages

The use of the Tower has changed, it has gone from Royal Residence to a place of storage for administrative departments that have grown. It also serves as an armory, arsenal, workshop, menagerie, prison, military fortress and royal refuge in case of emergency as during the War of the Two Roses.
Moreover, it is known that the apartments of the Tower were granted to the officers of certain administrative organs.

Under the Tudor Dynasty (1485-1603)

At first, under the reigns of Henry VII and VIII, the works were mainly repairs or improvements of the present buildings. The repairs on the walls began in 1530. The Chapel was destroyed following a fire in 1512 and the current building was built in 1519. The Queen's House was built in the south-east inside the ramparts.

Under the Stuart dynasty (17th century)

The first king of this dynasty, James I will be the last to use the Tower as a royal dwelling. It serves as a prison and shop (the Great Hall has been turned into an artillery store).
At that time, his prison saw the passing of very famous men like the participants of the Powder Conspiracy to blow up one of the Houses of Parliament or Walter Raleigh a deputy, poet, writer and explorer who spent 13 years at the Tower where he ends up being executed. After him, King Charles I ordered the restoration of the doors, windows and quay in 1636.

In the 18th century

This period saw the Tower undergo a small number of changes and remain under the responsibility of several administrations. The year 1718 saw the construction of a Hospital to the east of the Tower.
Other buildings were built during the century but they were demolished during the second half of the 19th century such as a guard post west of the Tower or an Irish barracks between the two ramparts northwest of the Tower.

In the 19th century

During the 19th century, the defensive side of the Tower diminished considerably and the administrations that had shaped the Tower in the previous century gave way to tourists. In 1812, the "Royal Mint" (an agency responsible for the production of English coins) was moved outside the Tower followed by the Royal Menagerie in 1830 and the artillery in 1850.

In the 20th century

The 20th century has mainly seen the strengthening of the Tower as a tourist place and the decrease of its role of military depot. The Tower still served during the Second World War as a gymnasium and canteen for military personnel as well as a Prisoners of War Treatment Center.
The Tower was also hit by the bombings in London, these bombings completely destroyed the North Bastion, part of the Hospital and the Guardhouse.

Subsequently only minor constructions related to tourism appeared (Roman Wall stores, a ticket office ...).

The Tower was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 to pay tribute to the history of this monument and to help preserve it and restore its interest to tourists.