Fortress

Battles at the Tower of London - a historic fortress.

Battles at the Tower of London - a historic fortress.

When

  • Open Daily

Ticketing info

Included in palace admission

The Peasants' Revolt and other battles

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.

Wellington's modern fortress

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.

Siege engines on display

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.

Explore what's on

Chief Yeoman Warder carrying the Tower keys

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17 December 2017. 21 January, 18 February, 18 March, 15 April 2018.

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Starting promptly in the Undercroft at 10:30 and 12:00

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