Tower of London

Tower of London

Tower of London

A building history

In the early 1080s, William the Conqueror began to build a massive stone tower at the centre of his London fortress. Nothing like it had ever been seen before.

Through the centuries that followed, successive monarchs added to the fortifications. This short history charts the different stages of its construction and explains its role as fortress, palace and prison.

A history of the Tower's development...

  1. The Normans
    It is with William the Conqueror (1066-87) that the history of the Tower of London begins.
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  2. Medieval Tower
    As a powerbase in peacetime and refuge in times of crisis, the Tower’s fortifications were updated and expanded by medieval kings.
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  3. The Tudors
    Henry VIII (1509-47) continued the work begun on the royal residential buildings by his father Henry VII, but on a grander scale.
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  4. Restoration
    Charles I’s reign (1625-49) ushered in a long and bloody civil war (1642-9) between the King and Parliament. Once again the Tower was one of the King’s most important assets.
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  5. 19th-century Tower
    Work on the huge new barracks commenced. On 14 June 1845 the Duke laid the foundation stone on the barracks named after his greatest victory – Waterloo.
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  6. A modern Tower
    Two World Wars saw the Tower back in use as a prison and a place of execution. Between 1914 and 1916 several spies were held and subsequently executed there, including Franz Buschmann.
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  7. Further reading
    The bibliography of the Tower of London
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