A Quick History of the Tower of London

Tower of London

You’ll struggle to find an area of London that isn’t rich with historic and cultural value, but there are certain places so iconic that everyone in the world has heard of them. The Tower of London is one of the city’s oldest and most famous landmarks and draws in millions of intrigued tourists every year.

Here at The Marble Arch London hotel we love the rich history of the city and its many iconic structures so we’ve decided to focus on one of our favourites, the famous Tower of London. This guide will take you through the history of the Tower of London and show you how it’s become one of the city’s most loved landmarks.

After the invasion of French king William the Conqueror, the construction of the White Tower was ordered in 1078 as a celebration of his victory and a form of intimidation towards the local people. During the post-war years the Tower was constructed as a headquarters for the new French monarchy and as a defensive structure to protect against any potential future attacks. As well as this, it was intended to be a symbol of oppression by the new ruling elite and the power they had over the people of England.

The White Tower was built near the area known as Tower Hill, at the heart of the Borough of Tower Hamlets. The build site was specifically chosen for its strategic positioning and its close proximity to the London City square mile. The structure stands at 90ft high and is made up of three storeys, including a basement level. The mighty structure’s design was based on popular Norman architecture of the time and still provides a beautiful example of medieval design.

Structural additions to the grounds have been made throughout history and what was once the White Tower has become the Tower of London we know today. In the late 1100s, the Inner Ward was built to extend the castle’s defences and provide space for timber structures, which were essentially 12th century versions of our central London hotels. Since then the addition of an outer ward and numerous other expansions have hugely increased the size of the grounds.

At the dawn of the 12th century the Tower started to be used as a prison, and housed criminals and enemies of the state up until the 1950s. Throughout the centuries, the Tower of London has held some of history’s most infamous characters, such as Guy Fawkes, Rudolph Hess and Charles Bronson. The Tower of London is famous for being impenetrable however, there have been a number of escape attempts throughout history, a few of which were successful.

Although the Tower of London is famous for being a prison, that was not its only purpose. It’s been used for various other things throughout its existence, including as an armoury, a treasury, the location of the Royal Mint and more recently, home of the Crown Jewels. Today the Tower of London is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, with an average of 2.5 million visitors every year.