Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Learning and discovery.
Do you have a passion for royal history? Do you wish to learn more about the palaces that we look after and the people who lived in them? See below for answers to some of our enquirers' frequently asked questions.

Where can I find out more about the palaces?

Look at the palace bibliographies found in the Building History section for each palace on our website for suggestions of further reading.

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Where can a list of all of the recognised English monarchs since the reign of William the Conqueror be found?

The display in the Hall of Monarchs in the Jewel House at the Tower of London shows every recognised English monarch since the Conquest.

The best online source for recognised monarchs is

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (available online via most local libraries) also gives lists of monarchs from the Anglo-Saxon period onwards.

Alternatively, the best printed sources are published by the Royal Historical Society: Cheney (ed), Handbook of Dates for Students of English History, or D Greenaway et al, Handbook of British Chronology.

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Where can I find royal records?

The best places to look are at the National Archives at Kew, the British Library or the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle. We do not have our own archives at Historic Royal Palaces. 

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Where can I find out more about the Queen and the current Royal Family?

Contact the Royal Household as Historic Royal Palaces only looks after unoccupied royal palaces. Their website is

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Where can I find out more about the jewellery that the queens wore in the past?

Contact the V & A Museum in London as they have a large jewellery collection. Their website is

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Apart from the monarchy, who else has lived at Hampton Court Palace?

Take a look at the Grace and Favour handbook on our website to find out who lived at Hampton Court Palace between 1750 and 1950 and where.

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Is there a register which lists every prisoner who was imprisoned at the Tower of London?

There is no register, but The Tower of London Prisoner Book by Brian Harrison lists a large number of prisoners held at the Tower from the twelfth century onwards.

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Where were prisoners kept in the Tower of London?

We do not keep the records for prisoners at the Tower. They are held at the National Archives. By the mid-seventeenth century the Cradle, Salt, Broad Arrow, Constable, Martin, Well, Beauchamp, Bell, Bloody, Coldharbour and Lanthorn Towers were all used as prison lodgings. Sometimes prisoners were moved around the Tower to various lodgings during their imprisonment.

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How were prisoners treated in the Tower of London?

The more important prisoners were likely to be held in the most secure lodgings in the Tower, such as the Lieutenant's lodgings. Wealthy prisoners were likely to have relatively spacious and comfortable chambers and could sometimes be accompanied by servants and members of their family, although this was often paid for by the prisoners. Meanwhile, those in close confinement would have been kept in solitary confinement, such as in cellars or storerooms (contrary to popular belief there are no actual dungeons at the Tower), with only the very basic necessities. You can find out more about general prisoner conditions from the book Prisoners of the Tower by Historic Royal Palaces:

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How many prisoners were tortured?

Torture was only used in a small number of circumstances and as a means to gain a confession rather than as a form of punishment.

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Who was the last person to be imprisoned in the Tower of London?

The last person to be officially imprisoned in the Tower (i.e. who was held as a state prisoner) was Rudolph Hess, the Deputy Fuhrer to Adolph Hitler. Captured in Scotland in May 1941 after he crash landed there (on an unknown mission!), he was briefly held in the Queens House (then, the Kings House) at the Tower before being taken to Mytchett Place in Surrey for the rest of World War II.

The gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray were held overnight at the Tower in the Waterloo Block in 1952 for failing to report for their military service - although this was because their local regiment was based at the Tower rather than because they were deemed state prisoners.

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What happened to the Crown Jewels during the World Wars?

During World War I the Crown Jewels stayed at the Tower and the Tower remained open to visitors with the Jewels on display. The Tower was not open to visitors during World War II.

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What is the Ceremony of the Word?

The Ceremony of the Word began at 3pm on Tuesday 18th September 2007, involving the Officer of the Guard, six soldiers and the Yeoman Warder Duty Supervisor. The Officer, having inspected his soldiers on the Broadwalk, marches with his escort via the East Side of the White Tower and Water Lane to the Byward Tower where he is met by the Yeoman Warder Duty Supervisor who hands over to him a leather pouch containing the Password to be used in the Tower on that day. The Officer then rejoins his escort who then retrace their steps back to the Broadwalk. On arrival the escort is dismissed. The Officer together with his Sergeant carries out the Daily Rounds to inspect the sentries outside the Jewel House and Queens House. 

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What happens during the Opening Ceremony at the Tower of London?

On Wednesday 19th September 2007 a revival of the traditional Opening Ceremony of the Tower took place at 9am. The Wicket Gates of the Byward and Middle Towers are opened at 6am and then closed by the Yeoman Warder Duty Supervisor at 8.55am. He then proceeds down Water Lane to meet the Ceremony of the Keys escorts who are formed up under the archway of the Bloody Tower. Together they then march down Water Lane. On arrival at the Byward Tower the Duty Supervisor together with the Byward Tower Yeoman Warder open the Byward Tower main gates, followed by the Middle Tower Gates using the same commands and procedures as are carried out at night. The escorts then march back down Water Lane to the Bloody Tower Archway where the Duty Supervisor falls out. The escorts under the command of the Sergeant then continue up onto the Broadwalk to post the two sentries at No 1 and No 2 posts outside the Jewel House and Queens House.

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Where can I find out more about the arms and armour kept at the Tower of London?

Contact the Royal Armouries, who are an independent National Museum and own the Royal Armouries Collections at the Tower of London. Their website is

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Timeline of our palaces

Cross Palace Timeline

Browse through 1000 years of history and discover the stories that connect our palaces.

Our palaces: An interactive timeline