Tower of London

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Tower of London,

ancient fortress in London, England, just east of the City and on the north bank of the Thames, covering about 13 acres (5.3 hectares). Now used mainly as a museum, it was a royal residence in the Middle Ages. Later it was a jail for illustrious prisoners. The Tower is enclosed by a dry moat, within which are double castellated walls surrounding the central White Tower. Although Roman foundations have been discovered, the White Tower was built c.1078 by Gundulf, bishop of Rochester; the exterior was restored by Sir Christopher Wren. Various towers subsequently built were used as prisons; one of them now houses a collection of medieval arms and armor. The crown jewels are displayed in the Waterloo Block, a former barracks. The Traitors' Gate (giving access by water from the Thames) and the Bloody Tower are associated with many historically noted persons, including Queen Elizabeth I (when still princess), Sir Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, the 2d earl of Essex, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the duke of Monmouth. Many persons beheaded within the Tower precincts, or on the neighboring Tower Hill, were buried in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. The Yeomen of the Guard ("Beefeaters"), dressed in Tudor garb, still guard the Tower.


See R. J. Minney, The Tower of London (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tower of London


a castle and fortress in London, on the Thames River. The oldest part of the tower, the Romanesque White Tower, dates from about 1078–85. The Tower of London, a royal residence until the 17th century, also housed the main state prison of England until 1820. Many famous English public figures were murdered or executed there, including King Henry VI, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard (wives of Henry VIII), the humanist T. More, and possibly Edward V and his brother, Richard. Since 1820, the Tower of London has been an arsenal and a museum containing weapons, armor, and objects associated with the royal families.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tower of London

famed as jail. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 1094]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tower of London

a fortress in the City of London, on the River Thames: begun 1078; later extended and used as a palace, the main state prison, and now as a museum containing the crown jewels
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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