The White Tower staircase project

The White Tower staircase project

White Tower staircase conservation

From forest to fortress: follow the journey of 50 English Oak trees from woodland in South Oxfordshire to the Tower of London.

The White Tower is the most complete surviving 11th-century fortress palace in Europe and the most outstanding Norman keep in England. Since its entrance is raised about 6.4m above ground level, it is likely a staircase was originally used to reach the doorway. The current staircase, built in 1973, was removed in January 2015 after it was identified as a maintenance priority.

Norman design

Research and the initial design of the new set of stairs began in 2013 and the spring of 2014 saw the project team carefully select and fell the trees from Mapledurham Woods, near South Oxfordshire. The design of the steps, which are currently being built, has been informed by extensive research into Norman design and architecture.


The trees were shaped with axes in a process called hewing - a laborious practice rarely used today, but one which produces a genuine hand-worked finish.
The project is due to be completed in July 2015.

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