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Tower of London welcomes new ‘Beefeater’, as Leicester born Simon Towe becomes the 417th Yeoman Warder

The Tower of London is one of the most iconic historic landmarks in the world and serves as a home to ravens, the Crown Jewels and a millennium of history. But now, the Tower of London will also become home to its newest ‘Beefeater’, as YW Simon Towe takes up the coveted role at London’s famous fortress. Following 26 years of distinguished service in the Army as part of the Second Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, he will join the other 32 Yeoman Warders who live and work within the legendary fortress, along with their families.

‘Coming from a small village to London is massive. I am still finding my feet and exploring as and when I can,’ YW Towe said. But life within the walls of the Tower of London has been ‘amazing’ so far, according to Simon. He said, ‘I am sure it will only get better once my family move into the Tower as well.’

A father of three, YW Towe was born and raised in the Leicestershire village of Earl Shilton, later residing with his family in Desford, just northwest of Leicester, before making the move to the Tower of London. During his time in the armed forces, YW Towe was stationed across the globe with stints in Cyprus, Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan, having most recently served as The Army Senior Drum Major in the Army School of Ceremonial, based at ITC Catterick. He first became aware of the job during a visit to the Tower of London in 2001. After speaking to one of the Yeoman Warders, becoming one of the team had been a goal of Simon’s. He described landing the role of Yeoman Warder as a ‘massive lifelong achievement’.

YW Towe will now become the 417th Yeoman Warder, also known as ‘Beefeaters’, who descend from the band of warders who guarded the gates and royal prisoners since the reign of Henry VII. Today, they combine their passion and knowledge to bring the Tower’s history alive for the millions of visitors this famous palace, fortress and prison welcomes in a usual year. As well as leading tours, presenting talks and lectures, answering questions on the Tower’s legendary past and posing for photographs, Yeoman Warders also hold a traditional ceremonial role as Extraordinary Members of The King’s Bodyguard. To qualify, applicants must have served at least 22 years in the armed forces, hold the Long Service and Good Conduct medal, and have reached the rank of Warrant Officer or equivalent, before being selected for interview and a rigorous recruitment process.

YW Towe is now getting to work learning the responsibilities required in the new role, including learning the Story - the script of the famous Yeoman Warder Tour – word-for-word before being allowed to lead tours himself, as well as familiarising himself with duties conducted by the Yeoman Body, including the ancient Ceremony of the Keys that has taken place every night at the Tower of London without fail for at least 700 years.

Yeoman Warder facts

  • As of January 2023, there are currently 33 Yeoman Warders at the Tower including the Chief Yeoman Warder and Yeoman Gaoler.
  • There are two uniforms for the Yeoman Body. The Ceremonial Uniform is worn for state occasions; for example, when the monarch visits the Tower or for any state occasion that the Body attends. It is predominantly scarlet and gold with red tights, white ruff and black shoes. For everyday wear, the Yeoman Warders wear a blue undress uniform, of different weights for summer and winter; this is the uniform that visitors will see in use day-to-day at the Tower.
  • No one is exactly sure where the nickname ‘Beefeater’ comes from. The most likely explanation is that Yeoman Warders were given a daily ration of meat for their duties. Records show that even in 1813 the daily ration for the thirty men on duty was 24lbs of beef, 18lbs mutton and 16lbs of veal!

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The story of the Tower of London

Iconic fortress, royal palace and infamous prison