Click here to find out more about the Crown Jewels (you will be taken to the Royal Collection's website) >
1100s - The Tower of London becomes a stronghold for the nation’s valuables
15 July 1377 - Richard II’s coronation procession leaves the Tower and sets off to Westminster in style
The Tower of London has long protected the monarch's most valuable possessions, from jewels and weapons to state records. The coronation regalia – the crown and other precious symbols of monarchy used at the coronation itself – were kept at Westminster Abbey until their destruction in 1649. Since the new regalia were made in 1660, they have been kept at the Tower.
In a magnificent display, the boy-king Richard II processed through the streets of London which were lavishly decorated and bustling with entertainers. The following day, the ten year-old was crowned in Westminster Abbey. For the next 300 years, coronation processions started from the Tower.
1649 - The Crown Jewels are destroyed at the Tower on the orders of Parliament
Following the execution of Charles I and the abolition of the monarchy, men acting for Parliament ‘broake into the Jewel House and took away…three crowns, two sceptres, [and] bracelets’. A parliamentary order stated that the crowns should be ‘totallie broken and defaced’. The gold and silver was sent to the Royal Mint, also at the Tower, to be made into coins.
1661 - The Tower becomes the permanent home for the new Crown Jewels
Most of the Crown Jewels at the Tower today were made for Charles II’s coronation in 1661, and followed closely the form and symbolism of those that had been destroyed after the Civil War. People have been coming to see the Crown Jewels at the Tower ever since. In the 17th and 18th centuries, some visitors were allowed to handle the Jewels – for an additional fee to the warder.
9 May 1671 - Attempt to steal the Crown Jewels is foiled
The infamous ‘Colonel’ Thomas Blood almost succeeded in stealing the Crown Jewels. Having befriended the Keeper of the Regalia through many visits, Blood returned to the Tower with three fellow conspirators. As they created a diversion, he knocked the Keeper unconscious then grabbed the Jewels. The crime only failed when the Keeper’s son arrived home unexpectedly and raised the alarm.
1815 - Security stepped up after a visitor seizes the State Crown
When visitors could reach through the bars and touch the Crown Jewels, a woman seized the State Crown and wrenched its arches apart. The crown was ‘very much damaged’ and had to be repaired at what was then a substantial cost of £10 and 10 shillings. A magistrate found the woman ‘insane’ and visitors were no longer allowed to handle the Crown Jewels after this.
30 October 1841 - The Crown Jewels are saved from fire
When a fire broke out in a building next to the Jewel House, the key to the case with the Crown Jewels could not be fetched in time. A City policeman wrenched the bars apart with a crowbar. The Times reported: ‘A most extraordinary scene presented itself, the warders carrying crowns, sceptres and other valuables of royalty, between groups of soldiers, police, firemen…to the Governor’s residence.’
2 June 1953 - A gun salute is fired at the Tower to mark the coronation of Elizabeth II
In accordance with tradition, a 62-gun salute was fired from Tower Wharf at the moment that Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in Westminster Abbey. This salute is repeated each year at the Tower on the anniversary of the coronation. Similar salutes mark her accession to the throne, actual birthday and official birthday.
Discover the stories of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Entrance to the Crown Jewels exhibition is included in your Tower of London admission ticket and is free for members. Find out more >
Click here for ticket prices >
Click here for opening times >
Click here for membership prices >
The re-presentation of the Jewel House at HM Tower of London in 2012, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of HM The Queen, was made possible thanks to the generosity of De Beers Family of Companies with Forevermark.