Reviewed by Sandra McGhee
How lucky was I to be invited to one of London’s most famous landmarks with so much history attached to it and visit the Tower of London to complete a review on behalf of What’s Good To Do. I decided to take my husband along with my two boys (14), (13) and daughter (9) and bought 3 children’s tickets online the day before at a very reasonable price which saved a few pounds. We found the venue very easily which was only a few minutes walk from Tower Hill Tube Station.
We noticed lots of tourists close by on a very sunny day which was an added bonus. Upon collecting the online e-tickets almost immediately at one of the kiosks which only had a couple of people in the queue we were then directed to the pass office to collect my tickets. We were then greeted by a very friendly Beefeater who welcomed us and agreed for my children to have a photo with him. I decided to buy the official guide for £4.99 upon entry which was a lovely souvenir, keepsake and worth every penny showing lots of facts and photographs. I noticed there was only one entry into the Tower and at first glance the queue looked fairly long, but was very impressed in how quickly this was moving so would anticipate queuing is no more than about 20 minutes which I thought great as previously queued at another famous museum in London for 2 hours before we gained entry!
We were very fortunate the sun was shining and a really clear day to view the Tower and its surroundings upon entering. There was the option of taking 6 special separate guided tours making sure you didn’t miss anything. We spent around 4 hours in total in the Tower and had a quick pit stop for our/lunch picnic which we purchased on the way, however we noticed there were plenty of places to eat within the Tower ranging from a restaurant, cafes as well as kiosks serving refreshments, ice-creams etc… There were also plenty of toilets and bins (no litter in site so it was a pleasure to witness a very clean, immaculate place that took pride being spotless) as well as staff close by to ask any questions etc…
Many towers make up the famous Tower of London where some gruesome executions were carried out (around a dozen towers in total, I will not list them all but a few we visited included The Bloody Tower, The White Tower (which also included one of my favourite places, (The Chapel of St Johns), The Salt Tower). The first tower of many we visited was The Bloody Tower, where it was believed the place where the ‘Princes in the Tower’ had been murdered by their uncle Richard III. Important prisoners were later held here.
We then decided to join a very long queue to visit the Crown Jewels, again we were anticipating a long wait but I don’t think it took any longer than about 20 minutes, worth the wait (however I would highly recommended doing this as early on in your visit as you could as the queue was getting longer and longer throughout the day). A spectacular tour, absolutely breath-taking seeing the world famous collection where the Crown Jewels have taken residence since at least the 17th Century, I think this was our favourite place so much on display and so interesting, I would definitely spend more time in there on another visit. There was a slideshow which showed the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, she looked so young and my daughter especially enjoyed watching this. Apparently one of the most frequently asked questions to the Jewel House Wardens is ‘Are these the real deal’ and the answer is simply yes.
One thing I do remember about visiting the Tower over 20 years ago when taking my little brother (11) at the time was the famous Ravens. I made sure I told my children about the legend says that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the 6 resident ravens ever leave the fortress. A few of the Ravens came very close so and was not fazed by all the visitors and these were a popular attraction alone as lots of tourists including us took photos of these Ravens close up.
I could continue with a longer commentary describing all the beautiful things on display and exhibitions, but can only highly recommend, go visit, you will not be disappointed. There’s so much to see it’s such an awesome experience. We will definitely be going back next year, a perfect day out and very educational not only for the children, but all ages, we was so impressed with what we saw we found some episodes in a series called ‘The Tower’ on the discovery channel once home and watched these and learnt more facts with the kids and felt very lucky to have the opportunity of visiting such an incredible place our memories will be treasured. My daughter especially enjoyed attempting the archery machine inside the White Tower. I would recommend this place for young boys in particular to see all the Knights in shining armour. One last thing I almost forgot to mention is make sure you don’t miss Tour 6: The Wall Walk, a very pleasant experience.
Value: very good, you can purchase family tickets for £59 including 2 Adults, 2 Children or individual Children’s tickets £11 & Adults £22, however if you buy in advance, there’s an online discount.
Your ticket includes access to the Tower and Crown Jewels display plus Yeoman Warder guided tour and talk, live historical re-enactments, White Tower tour, children’s activity trails and much more!
For more information or to book tickets online visit www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon.