Royal beasts

For 600 years, wild and exotic creatures were held captive here by kings and queens

For 600 years, wild and exotic creatures were held captive here by kings and queens

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Surprising animals kept at the Tower of London

Explore the tales of the many exotic animals kept at the Tower, from lions, tigers, monkeys and elephants, to zebras, alligators, bears and kangaroos, in the Royal Beasts exhibition at the Tower of London.

Learn about the polar bear who fished in the Thames for his lunch, the ostrich who ate nails and many other surprising stories.

Experience the sights, sounds, and even smells of the animals through interactive displays and find out what happened when the royal beasts escaped...

Status symbols and extravagant gifts

Founded by King John in the early 1200s, the Royal Menagerie became home to more than 60 species of animal. This began a long tradition of kings and queens keeping exotic animals as symbols of power and for the entertainment and curiosity of the court.

Animals were also exchanged throughout Europe as regal gifts, but sadly, they were often mistreated.

Learn more about the Tower of London menagerie

Life-size animal sculptures

As you explore around the Tower of London, you will see many life-size sculptures of menagerie animals by artist, Kendra Haste.

What animals can you find? 

Sculpture of a baboon made from galvanised wire
Sculpture of a polar bear made from galvanised wire. Kendra Haste was commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces to create a series of sculptures as part of an exhibition 'Royal Beasts' celebrating the history of the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London.

Other institutions at the Tower

The Royal Menagerie is one of the many institutions founded at the Tower of London. Others include The Royal Mint and The Royal Observatory.

While some organisations moved out and other functions ceased, many operated for hundreds of years.

Iron spikes descending from a stone arch, a portcullis, on the Bloody Tower
Things to see

Explore the Tower of London’s early years as a formidable fortress and discover why it has been both feared and revered.

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Two medieval knights, in civilian clothes, talk in the Medieval Palace
Things to see

Step inside the luxurious lodgings of two kings, meticulously re-created in the Medieval Palace at the Tower of London.

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Tower of London

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A Yeoman Warder gives a tour to a group of visitors outside the chapel of St Peter Ad Vincula at the Tower of London
Highlights

Discover captivating stories of pain and passion, treachery and torture with our Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London.

Wednesday-Sunday

Tower of London

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Gift selection of products inspired by the Tower of London from Historic Royal Palaces shop

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Shop our products inspired by the almost 1000 years of history at the Tower of London.

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Palace China Collection, serviettes and cake stand.  Design inspired by the palaces in our care; delicate details taken from the rose gardens at Hampton Court Palace, the famous gates at Kensington Palace and the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.   'Tea Fit for a Queen' book - reciipes and drinks for afternoon tea.  Lifestyle

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Discover books inspired by the palaces in our care, learn about fascinating periods of British history, including our official palace guide books, children's books and more.

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Courtiers: The Secret History of Kensington Palace by Lucy Worsley

Courtiers: The Secret History of Kensington Palace

Told through the eyes of a courtier, this fascinating book explores the ambitious and talented people who flocked to the Georgian court in search of power and prestige.

£11.99