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Two new ‘Beefeaters’ land roles at the Tower of London

11 October 2023

Lisa Garland from West Yorkshire and Ryan ‘Barney’ Barnett from Yeovil in Somerset have become the newest Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London, joining the 33 other ‘Beefeaters’ who live and work at the Tower, alongside their families.

The role of Yeoman Warder, or ‘Beefeater’ as they are popularly known, was created in 1485 by Henry VII – but the role can trace its origins back to the band of warders who guarded the Tower of London and its prisoners from the reign of William the Conqueror. Henry VII created the Yeoman Body as an extension of his personal protection, and to this day they continue to hold a traditional ceremonial role as Extraordinary Members of The King’s Bodyguard. Today the Yeoman Warders help to bring the history of the Tower of London to life for millions of visitors each year, regaling them with stories on their famous Yeoman Warder tours, posing for photographs, and carrying out their ceremonial duties.

Applicants for the role of Yeoman Warder of His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London must have served at least 22 years in the armed forces, hold the Long Service and Good Conduct medal, and have reached a certain rank in their service, before being selected for interview and a rigorous selection process. Both will now don the iconic Yeoman Warder uniform, which features a large royal crown in red, below which is the insignia of the reigning monarch, which now depicts ‘CIIIR’ in recognition of the new monarch.

YW Lisa Garland was born and raised in Halifax, in West Yorkshire, and served for 22 years as an Air Traffic Controller in the Royal Air Force. Reaching the rank of Flight Sergeant, YW Garland served all over the UK during her military career, as well as in the Balkans, Afghanistan and an Operational Tour in Cyprus. The sixth woman to take on the role of Yeoman Warder in its 500-year history, when she isn’t on duty YW Garland likes to spend time outdoors, walking and skiing, and spending quality time with family and friends. She shares that her appointment at the Tower of London “feels very surreal” and that she is “still pinching” herself that she has had the opportunity to take on this historic role.

YW Barney Barnett served for nearly 26 years in the Royal Navy, within the Fleet Air Arm as an Aircraft Engineer. He is the first Royal Navy Aircraft Engineer to become a Yeoman Warder, and throughout his military career was deployed in Sierra Leone, The Gulf, Malaysia, the United States, and across Europe. YW Barnett hails from Yeovil in Somerset, which he has called home since he joined the Navy at 18 and completed his basic training. He is a devoted Tottenham Hotspur FC fan with a passion for history - which comes in handy when sharing the stories of a nearly 1,000 year old fortress - and loves to keep fit by running around his new home.  Having spent part of his childhood growing up just a few miles from the Tower of London, YW Barnett said, “I always dreamed of returning to London, but now I have the best of both worlds, both living and working here”.

Over the coming months, YW Garland and YW Barnett will learn ‘the Story’- the script of the famous Yeoman Warder Tour - word for word before being allowed to lead their own tours of the Tower of London. They will also learn the 21 separate duties conducted by the Yeoman Warders each day, including the Ceremony of the Keys; the ancient closing ceremony that has taken place every single night for at least 700 years.

 

Yeoman Warder facts

  • As of October 2023, there are currently 35 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 scarlet and gold with red stockings, white ruff and black shoes. On a typical day at the Tower of London, visitors will see the Yeoman Warders wearing their blue undress uniform, which comes in two different weights for summer and winter.
  • The sovereign’s initials have traditionally appeared on Yeoman Warder uniforms since 1570, and the uniforms were updated just before the Coronation to bear the new cypher of HM King Charles III.
  • No one is exactly sure what the origins of the nickname ‘Beefeater’ are, but there are plenty of myths and legends associated with the name. The most likely explanation is that the Yeoman Warders were given a daily ration of meat, reflected by records which show that even in 1813 the daily ration for the thirty men on duty was 24lbs of beef, 18lbs of mutton and 16lbs of veal.

Notes to Editors

For further information and images please contact Jessica England in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office via [email protected] / 020 3166 6166

Historic Royal Palaces is a team of people who love and look after six of the most wonderful palaces in the world. We create space for spirits to stir and be stirred. We want everyone to feel welcome and accepted. We tell stories about the monarchs you know and the lives you don’t. We let people explore and we set minds racing. We are a charity and your support gives the palaces a future, for everyone.  

Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk

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