Tower of London general access guide
The Tower of London is a large open air site covering 18 acres (including the moat). As well as being a unique historical monument, it also houses part of the collection of the Royal Armouries. The Tower of London has a village atmosphere, complete with its green and parish church, and is home to some 150 people.
A medieval castle was designed to defend its inhabitants and to keep the lord and his household separate from other castle dwellers. In places it is as difficult to get around as it undoubtedly was during the Middle Ages.
The Tower has a large number of steps, many worn down and smoothed by age, and cobbles laid in some of the roads. Since the Tower is beside the river it can be cold and damp in the winter months.
Opening hours & prices: All disabled visitors are admitted at a concessionary rate.
A carer is admitted free of charge.
The hours of opening vary with the seasons.
For information on these and admission prices contact:
Visitor Services on 020 3166 6266 or email: visitorservices.TOL@hrp.org.uk
There are toilets with easy ramped access situated behind the Waterloo Barracks and near the Salt Tower. There are also toilets in Water Lane and beside the Beauchamp Tower.
The New Armouries Restaurant is open daily and has ramped access for wheelchairs. There is also a kiosk and café on the waterfront wharf (largely cobbled with flat stones). There are numerous seating areas on the wharf and outside areas of the Tower where purchased food or packed lunches can be eaten.
Parking is only available for the vehicles of special schools by booking in advance 0870 751 5191
The Yeoman Warders give regular guided tours starting next to the Middle Tower. Both the Yeoman Warders and other staff are always approachable for help and directions.
Wheelchairs are available from the Welcome Centre on Tower Hill to hire free of charge.
Some of the smaller historic towers have narrow spaces to explore and at busy times can become very crowded. Visitors who do not like small enclosed spaces are advised to visit at quieter times of the day (early or late during opening hours) or speak to a member of staff prior to entry.
Access to various parts of the Tower is rated as follows:
3 Large numbers of steps. Spiral staircases.
Small doorways. Displays on different levels.
2 Some steps.
Displays on different levels.
1 Ramped entrance/exit
Displays on one level.
The Medieval Palace:
Part of the old Royal Palace, built by Henry III and Edward I containing a reconstruction of the king's privy chamber, including three towers, Lanthorn, Wakefield and St Thomas's.
From the Water Lane steps, eastward via several staircases to steps down to the Queen Elizabeth Arch.
Access Rating: 3
A walk around the inner wall of the Tower with views over the River Thames, the City and the rest of the castle. It passes through four wall towers: the Salt Tower has many prisoners' inscriptions; the Broad Arrow Tower has a reconstruction of a knight's chamber; the Constable Tower has a model of the medieval Tower of London and the Martin Tower contains the exhibition Crowns & Diamonds, a history of the Crown Jewels.
From the lower Salt Tower via a spiral staircase.
Some narrow, steep spiral staircases and some handrails.
162 steps with a total rise and fall of 30cm.
Minimum doorway width 56cm.
Wooden and stone steps. Iron spiral staircase. Concrete and tarmac outside.
Access Rating: 3
The Cradle Tower:
Display boards relating to this tower's history as the private medieval watergate built by Edward III, and as the prison cell of the Jesuit priest, Father John Gerard, who was imprisoned here in 1597.
Down 6 steps with a total fall of 1.06m and doorstep of 8cm.
Minimum access width 69cm.
Inside steps of 10cm rise to enter side rooms.
Access Rating: 2
Henry III Watergate:
Original stonework surrounding the remains of the Plantagenet kings' private entrance to their Royal Palace, the bottom of Henry III's spiral staircase to his private apartments and the large guardroom for the soldiers protecting the watergate. Also access to the guardroom for the Bloody Tower with its 'built in' cupboards.
Access: A total of 61 steps with a total rise and fall of 10.67m.
There are handrails but the stairways can be both narrow and winding.
Surfacing: a combination of concrete, stone and wood floors.
Access Rating: 3
Traditionally where the 'Little Princes' were murdered. Gate tower containing lower and upper chambers and workings for a portcullis. The chambers contain room settings and displays on Sir Walter Ralegh's imprisonment. The upper floor leads outside to Ralegh's Walk with view over the Thames. The ground floor can be visited separately with moderate access.
A trip around this tower involves a total of 55 steps with a total rise and fall of 11.13m.
The floors are connected by a very narrow, steep and worn spiral staircase.
Minimum doorway size 51cm wide and 1.80m high.
Surfacing: very worn stone flooring, polished wood floor with asphalting on Ralegh's Walk.
2 - Ground Floor
3 - First Floor
Medieval wall tower. The walls, especially on the first floor, have Tudor prisoners' inscriptions.
Upper and lower chambers connected by spiral staircase.
A total of 80 steps with a rise and fall of 15.23m.
There is a handrail beside steps into the tower.
Minimum doorway width 70cm.
Surfacing: stone flooring and polished wood.
Access Rating: 3
The White Tower:
The stone keep, built on the orders of William the Conqueror as a fortress and palace, now houses part of the collection of the Royal Armouries.
There are four floors of displays and some remaining features of the Norman palace, including the chapel, well, fireplaces and lavatories (garderobes).
Notes on access
The 'ground' floor is reached via a wooden flight of steps. This area recreates the original Norman entrance.
Access: 41 steps, wood and stone, with a total rise of over 5.8m up to the entrance.
Minimum doorway width 1.78m. Arches between galleries with a minimum width 1.04m.
Uneven stone flooring and wooden floorboards.
First and second floors and basement:
The Chapel of St John and Medieval Great Hall.
The basement includes a display of canons and other military exhibits. Also there is a short film showcasing the history of the White Tower.
The basement also includes tactile materials, raised image cards, Braille and a handling point where visitors can feel armour and chain mail.
A trip around the upper floors and basement of the White Tower involves a total of 206 steps, some irregular and very steep, including a spiral staircase of 101 steps and a total rise and fall of over 37.5m.
Minimum doorway width 84cm.
Surfacing: stone and wooden floors and steps.
Access Rating: 3 - All floors.
Note: Access to even part of the White Tower involves a considerable number of stairs. From the ground floor visitors can choose to leave the White Tower or carry on up. If you do choose to see more, you will have to see all the displays on all the floors before coming to the exit again.
From the ground floor visitors are able to reach the basement of the White Tower via a lift.
Please contact the Yeoman Warder stationed on Tower Green for assistance.
The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula
Tudor chapel containing monuments to residents of the Tower, and also its prisoners, including those executed on Tower Green.
Access to chapel during Yeoman Warder tour only. Tours take place every half hour after opening until 14.30 (15.30 April to November) Visitors who do not wish to take the whole tour are advised to join a Yeoman tour entering the Chapel, please speak to the Yeoman Warder on post near the entrance of the Chapel.
4 steps down to entrance, total drop 30cm.
1 step up at doorway with a rise of 5cm.
Wide aisles, plenty of seating.
Surfacing: threshold carpets, stone flooring which is uneven in parts.
Access Rating: 2
The Jewel House occupies the whole of the ground floor of the Waterloo Barracks and contains the Treasury, containing the Crown Jewels.
No steps, minimum doorway/aisle width 1.02m.
Surfacing: York stone or wooden blocks; both smooth.
Access Rating: 1
Note: The Jewel House Warders have raised images of the Crown Jewels for visually impaired visitors, available on request.
The above information aims to make a visit to the Tower of London as successful and enjoyable as possible. An on-going programme of improvements is being undertaken and this information will be regularly updated.
If you have any comments about this information or your visit please contact the Visitor Services department on 020 3166 6266 or by email VisitorServices.TOL@hrp.org.uk