First ever Tower of London iPhone app launched

First ever Tower of London iPhone app launched

Escape from the tower characters

First ever Tower of London iPhone app launched: Escape from the Tower game

18 December 2010

Press release

Visitors to the Tower of London will be able to actively participate in some of its most infamous and audacious escapes in the places they really happened, with the launch of the London landmark’s first ever iphone app. Developed in partnership between Historic Royal Palaces and Calvium, the free app will bring the 1,000 year old fortress’ spaces and stories alive through the innovative use of new technologies.

This historically accurate, location-aware game uses sensors within the Tower to trigger content as participants attempt to smuggle virtual letters, ropes and other contraband to help prisoners escape. Blending the physical site with virtual content, players also have to answer questions and make decisions which affect the outcome of the game. They earn gold sovereigns as they complete tasks but may have to bribe Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters) with them if they get caught mid-escape! 

Visitors can download the app to their own iPhones (and later to Android smartphones) for free – either before they arrive or at newly installed Wi-fi hotspots on Tower Hill - and play it on site at the Tower.  The highest scoring players will have an opportunity to win prizes.

The game will allow visitors to meet some of the Tower of London’s most colourful characters, including:

• Ranulf Flambard, the Tower’s first escapee who fled by rope from the White Tower in 1101 after throwing a party and getting his guards drunk;
• A polar bear, a gift from King Haakon of Norway to Henry III in the 13thcentury, who had a collar and chain so he could go fishing in the Thames;
• John Gerard, a Jesuit priest who wrote secret letters in orange juice and then escaped by rope from the Cradle Tower into a waiting boat in 1597;
• Henry Laurens, an American who was captured sailing to Holland to raise funds for the fight for independence in 1780 and negotiated a prisoner swap with the former Constable of the Tower. 

The project was awarded a "Creating new markets for digital content" grant from the Technology Strategy Board, providing matched funding.  The grant is intended to support collaboration between content rich organisations such as Historic Royal Palaces and technology developers to maximise the potential of their intellectual property. The grant is funding the development of apps at the Tower of London, Bristol Old Vic and the New Museum of Bristol.

Notes to editors

For more information about this app, or for accompanying images, please contact Tim Powell in the Historic Royal Palaces press office on 07812 241 572 or at

Historic Royal Palaces

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. 

We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We receive no funding from the Government or the Crown, so we depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors. These palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

We believe in four principles.  Guardianship: giving these palaces a future as long and valuable as their past. Discovery: encouraging people to make links with their own lives and today’s world.  Showmanship: doing everything with panache. Independence: having our own point of view and finding new ways to do our work.   Registered charity number 1068852


Calvium is a start-up formed out of the closure of Hewlett-Packard's Pervasive Computing Lab in November 2009. It has six employees working to the on-line delivery of authoring and delivery services. Building on research experience at Hewlett-Packard the team are exploring the design and technology requirements to enable context-based mobile applications to be authored by people with little or no programming experience.

The 'Creating new markets for digital content' grant from the Technology Strategy Board is providing financial and collaborative support for our startup to engage in R&D in this early phase of the company's activities. The matched funding from the TSB enables the team to work with potential customers to build prototype authoring and delivery services and to use these to build exemplar applications. For more information visit:

Technology Strategy Board project

The project is a collaboration with partners Historic Royal Palaces, Calvium, Watershed, Bristol Old Vic, and the New Museum of Bristol. Initial experiments will focus on the Heritage and Tourism sector but will create technology that can be rolled out across other sectors. The project will be managed by Watershed and technical development and delivery will be by start-up and studio resident Calvium. The project was selected as one of eighteen investments by the Technology Strategy Board to support new research and development projects aimed at helping the UK's digital content creators and rights holders to maximise the commercial return potential from their intellectual property.

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