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The Tower was known as a formidable historic fortress with impenetrable defences. However, a rabble of peasants managed to successfully attack the Tower in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 - one of many battles at the Tower of London.
Explore our displays along the Tower's defences which include a reconstructed fighting platform on the battlements. Discover what it was like to be part of the medieval garrison defending the Tower as you get up close to the life-size metalwork soldiers and their weapons on the Tower wall walks. Peer through the gate and imagine what it was like to be a medieval soldier working in this cramped but beautiful space.
The Tower of London isn’t just a formidable historic fortress - it remains a working fortress today with a strong military presence. You will see soldiers guarding the Jewel House and Queen’s House, as well as the famous Yeoman Warders ('Beefeaters') who have been guarding the Tower for 500 years.
The Duke of Wellington, one of Britain’s greatest military leaders, became the Constable of the Tower in 1826. He remained Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces and became Prime Minister twice while serving as Constable at the Tower.
Besides draining the filthy moat, where possible, Wellington adapted the fortress for modern warfare and a more professional army. He closed the Tower pubs in favour of an army canteen and erected purpose-built barracks for 1,000 soldiers with a new officers’ mess. He also demanded the closure of the Royal Menagerie at the Tower and the removal of all the animals following a series of vicious attacks. Under his command the number of visitors soared, despite his reservations about public access to a military site.
Wellington dealt with the aftermath of a major fire at the Tower in 1841 and strengthened the ancient fortress at a time of civil unrest, when the government feared that rioting and revolution would spread to London.
The perrier, a stone-thrower, is one of the least complicated medieval siege engines, comprising a simple frame and a mighty 17ft throwing arm with a sling. The perrier’s energy is supplied entirely by its operators. With a downward heave on the ropes our visitors can hurl a water balloon 50 metres. However, with greater force, a perrier can easily throw a rock the size of a grapefruit hundreds of metres.
Our perrier is operated by four people but history has recorded perriers large enough to need as many as 16 men pulling on the ropes!
Its relatively simple design made the perrier an ideal weapon for both attack and defence. Attackers could build one quickly (provided they could find a straight enough tree trunk for the throwing arm) and use them to damage castle walls and bombard the defenders inside.
Defenders used perriers to launch stones from their walls, often targeting the enemy’s own siege engines. In 1192 Richard I’s government spent more than £100 building similar stone-throwers to defend the walls of the Tower of London – more than £50,000 in today’s money.
You’re invited to an evening with Daisy Goodwin, creator of hit ITV show 'Victoria' and two of the stars of the series, hosted by our Chief Curator Lucy Worsley.
9 October 2017
Join Siobhan Clarke for an exclusive tour of this revolutionary building.
Winston is the oldest and wisest of the Raven family. A slightly pompous professor, he takes his work very seriously, educating children about the Tower of London and trying to keep the rest of the ravens in line! Dressed in his Yeoman Warder costume, this cuddly Winston the Raven can leave the Tower of London!