Saturday, August 2, 2008

London in Bits: The Tower

At this rate, I'll be finishing accounts of London around the time we return to the US. Sorry for the snail's pace. The state of packing and sorting a house to move across the ocean, indeed, has a life of its own.

One of the quirks of traveling with a historian in tow are the snide comments directed my way during historical tours. The Tower of London was no exception. Courtesy of Good Housekeeping's Buy One, Get One Free admission to the Tower (thanks, Sian!) we saved ourselves a bundle. We entered the fortress just after the tour had started but caught up with it just a few feet down the road at Traitor's Gate. The tour guide, dressed in full Beefeater attire, was delivering a rousing account of the history of the premises to which Trey quietly retorted, "This is not history. It's theater." I have to laugh because although I know these apocryphal accounts are often just anecdotal heresay, this is what keeps the audience interested. Real historians are hard to please! Trey had great reason to visit the Tower. The man he is writing his thesis on, Andrew Melville, was imprisoned there for 4 years from 1607-1611 for writing 6 lines of offending Latin poetry against the worship of the English church. During his time in the Tower, England experienced both very cold winters and very hot summers. One of the winters was so icy that the Thames remained completely frozen over for several months.

Much of the White Tower, the famed central edifice, was under restoration which impeded our photographs a bit. Trey took Addison in to see the exhibits. Davis had lost patience with the sightseeing and just wanted to wander the cobbles and flirt with the girl tourists. We indulged to maintain the peace. Afterwards we managed a quick glimpse at some of the crowned jewels and then found the famous ravens. I have heard repeated stories about one particular raven at the Tower of London back when Trey visited with his family some 15+ years ago, Ronald Raven. Yes, the punning is, indeed, clever. Sadly, Trey discovered after speaking with one of their caretakers that Ronald, like his namesake, is no longer with us. Legend has it that as long as the ravens remain at the Tower, London can never fall. In an effort to preempt the possibility of their flight and the subsequent fall of this great city, their wings have been clipped. Hmmm...that hardly seems fair. But then what would the tourists gawk at, and let me tell you, those are some big birds which do bite.

Said actor performing for the crowd.

One of the ravens.

Trey took this photo of Addison inside the White Tower. Apparently, it took awhile to pose because Addison was totally freaked out by the boy in armor behind him. Its face is a little creepy.

My boys with a beefeater.

London Bridge in the shadow of the Tower.

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