Battles at the Tower of London - a historic fortress.
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 displays along the Tower's defences including a reconstructed fighting platform on the battlements. Discover what it was like to be part of the medieval garrison defending the Tower as you stand beside life-size metalwork soldiers and their weapons on the 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's role as a formidable fortress isn't just about the past. The Tower 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 (or '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, made of a simple frame and a mighty 17-foot throwing arm with a sling. The perrier’s energy is supplied entirely by its operators. With a downward heave on the ropes visitors have hurled 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!
The 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 it 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 (more than £50,000 in today’s money) building similar stone-throwers to defend the walls of the Tower of London.
Get an expert’s guide of what there is to see and do at each palace with one of our State Apartment Warders at Hampton Court.
21 December 2017. 20 January, 08 February and 10 March 2018
Hampton Court Palace
Tours begin at 11:00 and 14:00
Come and hear original Christmas music from Tudor to Victorian eras performed by leading specialists
16 December - 17 December 2017
Hampton Court Palace
The Royal Mint Remembrance Day 2017 brilliant uncirculated poppy commemorative coin is the first official coin minted by the Royal Mint to commemorate Armistice Day. The design, by Stephen Taylor, features red Flanders poppies, the longstanding symbol of remembrance and the inscription "Silence Speaks When Words Can Not".