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Tower of London.

This ancient edifice is situated on the north bank of the Thames, at the extremity of the city. The antiquity of the building has been a subject of much inquiry and discussion. That the Romans had a fort on the spot at present occupied by the Tower, is now past doubt, in consequence of the discovery of a single ingot, and three golden coins; (one of the emperor Honorius, and the others of Arcadius,) which were found in 1777, in digging for the foundation of a new office for the board of ordnance; through the foundation of certain ancient buildings, beneath which they were met with on the natural ground. The present fortress is generally believed to have been built by William I., at the commencement of his reign, and strongly garrisoned with Normans, to secure the allegiance of his new subjects The first work seems to have been suddenly thrown up in 1066, on his taking possession of the capital.

The great square tower, called the "White Tower," was erected in 1078, when it arose under the directions of the great military architect Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, who gave this noble specimen of innovation, in the art of castle building, and which was pursued by him in the execution of Rochester castle, on the banks of the Medway. The walls, which are eleven feet thick, have a winding stair-case continued along two of the sides, like that in the castle of Dover. The Tower is separated from the Thames by a platform, and part of the ditch. The former, and the parapet were erected in 1761, when sixty cannon, mounted on iron carriages, were placed there, merely for firing on rejoicing days, as there is no kind of cover for the artillery-men who work them. At each extremity of the platform, are passages to Tower-hill, and near that to the East, a place for proving muskets. The ditch, of very considerable width and depth, proceeds north on each side of the fortress, nearly in a parallel line, and meets in a semi-circle; the slope is faced with brick, and the great wall of the Tower has been repaired with that material so frequently, that it might almost be disputed whether any part of it but the turrets, had ever been stone. Cannon at intervals are planted round the line; they command every avenue leading to Tower-hill; and, as the garrison has a shelter, they might be fired with great effect. The ditch is very much neglected, and seldom contains water sufficient to cover the bottom completely. The state of security in which government have long considered the country, has operated conspicuously within the Tower, where some hundreds of old houses line the interior of the wall, to the evident injury of the place as a fortress. If heavy cannon were brought against the Tower, the lines would not be tenable one quarter of an hour, because the balls taking place in those houses, must inevitably bring them down in rubbish. And this observation will also apply to the armoury on the north-side.

Within the Tower is a very ancient chapel, dedicated to St. John. It is of an oblong form, rounded at the east end; on each side are five short round pillars, with vast squared capitals, cut in different forms on their sides, with a cross on each; the arches are round, but they suit the architecture of its date. The columns pass down quite to the ground floor, through a lower apartment, which is now a magazine of gun-powder. The chapel forms a part of the Record Office, and is filled with papers.

Adjacent to this room is another very large one, also filled with papers. This is called the Council Chamber, in which many of the first moment have been held. In 1092, a violent tempest did great injury to the Tower; but it was repaired by William Rufus, and his successor. The first added another castellated building on the south side, between it and the Thames, which was afterwards called St. Thomas's Tower. Beneath that was Traitor's Gate, through which state prisoners were brought from the river: and under another, properly enough called, "the Bloody Gate." In the southeast angle of the enclosure, were the royal apartments; for the Tower was a palace during near 500 years, and only ceased to be so on the accession of queen Elizabeth.

In another portion of the building, called the Wakefield Tower, is a fine octagonal room, in which, tradition records, that Henry VI. was murdered. This room is at present filled with papers belonging to the Record Office, containing all the Records from the conquest to the year 1483. The rest, to the present time, are kept in the Rolls Chapel. This Tower got its name from having been the place in which the prisoners, taken at the battle of Wakefield, were confined,

The Beauchamp Tower is noted for the illustrious personages confined within its walls. Among them were the ill-fated Anna Bullen, and the good and accomplished Lady Jane Grey.

Edward IV. built the Lion's Tower; it was originally called the Bulwark, but received the former name from its use. A menagerie had very long been a piece of regal state; Henry I. had his at the manor of Woodstock, where he kept lions, leopards, lynxes, porcupines, and several other uncommon beasts. They were afterwards removed to the Tower. The royal menagerie is to this day exceedingly well supplied. The office of the keeper of the menagerie was added to that of constable of the Tower for the sake of the emolument. In the reign of Henry VII., John de Vere, earl of Oxford, was constable; and was appointed keeper of the lions, with the allowance of twelve-pence per diem, and six-pence for each beast.

The room, in which the artillery is kept, and the armoury of small arms above, (each 345 feet 5 inches long,) do great honour to the kingdom. They are in the most admirable order, and are said to excel all other collections of the same kind in Europe. The principal entrance to the Tower is on the west, and is wide enough to admit a carriage. It consists of two gates on the outside of the ditch; a stone bridge built over the ditch, and a gate within the ditch. The gates are opened in the morning with great ceremony. The Tower is governed by the constable of the Tower, who, at coronations, and other state ceremonies, has the custody of the crown and other regalia. The armoury and the jewel rooms are objects of great curiosity, and merit the investigation of the inquisitive.

Other London Buildings:

St. James's Palace

Buckingham House Palace

Carlton House

Kensington Palace

Lambeth Palace

St. James's Park

The Green Park

Hyde Park

The Regent's Park

Westminster Hall

The House of Lords

House of Commons

Courts of Justice

The New Mint

The Monument

Mansion House

The Bank of England

The Royal Exchange

The Auction Mart

Trinity House

New Custom House

Excise Office

General Post Office


Temple Bar

The Adelphi

Somerset House

Charing Cross

Horse Guards

The Treasury

Admiralty Office


King's Mews

New Court House, or Westminster Guildhall

Northumberland House

General List of other Noblemen's Residences

Source: Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand;
by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819