The Tower of London

The Tower of London

Right bank, just above Tower Bridge

1610: Camden -

Where the wall endeth also toward the river there were two very strong forts or Bastilions, of which the one Eastward remaineth yet, usually called The Tower of London, in the British tongue Bringwin or Tourgwin of the whitenesse.
A most famous and goodly Citadell, encompassed round with thicke and strong walles, full of loftie and stately Turrets, fensed with a broad and deepe ditch, furnished also with an armorie or magazine of warlicke munition, and other buildings besides, so as it resembleth a big towne, and a man may truly suppose that those two Castles which Fitz-Stephen recorded to have beene at the East-side of this Citie went both to the making of this one.

Tower of London 1802
Tower of London in Picturesque Views on the Thames by Samuel Ireland, 1802

1880: Picturesque England -

THE Tower of London - at once a palace, a fortress, and a prison - is most closely associated with the events of English history.
When we say a palace, we must add, that of the palace of the Tudors that existed within those walls as a splendid building, with a painted hall, spacious galleries and noble courts, not a vestige now remains. Its place has been taken by the Ordnance Offices.
The Tower itself has remained as we see it, though the dwelling-place of kings within its walls is gone. Yet how grand that painted hall must have been!
Here King John of France was feasted by King Edward III.
Here Henry of Lancaster wore the crown torn from Richard II.’s brow,
and Henry VIII. banqueted with his queens, two of whom were destined to die in that fatal fortress.
The Tower is always a weird place, by night especially. The writer spent many days and nights, during childhood, as a guest there, and has often walked in the solemn moonlight round it, on the platform under the old trees, passing the Devil’s Battery, the Stone Battery, and the Wooden Battery, and again the White Tower, all clothed in the solemn light - awesome, and full of terrible memories; for the past scenes of three or four hundred years seemed to be absolutely present under the charm of the hour, and one could almost see the victims of the savage Yorkists and Tudors passing in shadowy procession before one.
The boy princes;
the unhappy Anne Boleyn clasping her little throat;
the saintly Jane Grey;
the gallant Raleigh.
Gray has apostrophised the Tower thus:

Ye towers of Julius, London’s lasting shame,
With many a foul and midnight murder fed;

and Shakspeare asserts the same origin of the Tower in the scene where young Edward V. objects to the Tower as his residence.

Prince: I do not like the Tower, of any place:-
Did Julius Caesar build that place, my lord?
Buckingham: He did, my gracious lord, begin that place;
Which, since, succeeding ages have re-edified. ...

But in fact Julius Caesar did not build the Tower. It was built by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester (who also erected Rochester Castle), in 1078, for William the Conqueror. Rufus added to the keep, Henry I. strengthened it, and Stephen kept his court here. It is a singular fact that Ralph Flambard, Bishop of Durham, who assisted in completing the Tower, was the first person imprisoned in it. He managed, however, to escape. His friends conveyed a rope to him in a flagon; he made his keepers tipsy (therefore doubtless wine had been sent with the flagon), and then, when they were so intoxicated as to be blind and incapable, he let himself down from a window in the south gallery, taking his pastoral staff with him. The rope broke, and the bishop had a serious fall; but though he was injured by it, he managed to escape to Normandy, and lived to recover his See.
King John held his court here; Edward II. found refuge in the fortress; and here were imprisoned two monarchs - David, king of Scotland, and John, king of France, the captives of our third Edward. Richard II. found safety in the Tower from, Jack Cade and his rebels, and was imprisoned here when first brought to London by usurping Bolingbroke. Here his grandson, the saintly Henry VI., expiated his grandsire’s crime by his death, - murdered, it is said, by Gloucester.
In a strangely small and dark room in the Bloody Tower the two young princes of York are said to have been murdered. The room is not generally shown, as the tower is inhabited; but we have seen it, and no spot could have been better adapted for a foul midnight murder. A passage runs between it and the wall of the tower, and the light in it is borrowed from the loophole or window, the side of the room towards the passage being glazed half-way from the top. Through this window tradition says that Tyrrel watched the ruffians execute their deed of blood. The bed is placed sideways to the window. ...

Tower of London 1880
The Tower of London, 1880
a) Lion's Tower; b) Bell Tower; c) Beauchamp Tower; d) The Chapel;
e) The keep or White Tower; f) Jewel House; g) Queen's lodgings;
h) Queen's Gallery and Gardens; i) Lieutenant's Lodgings; k) Bloody Tower;
l) St Thomas' Tower & Traitors Gate; m) Place of Execution on Tower-hill.

Tower Millenium Pier

Right bank, Tel: 020 7941 2420 Fax: 020 7941 2410
Tower Pier has been re-built and was formally opened by Mayor Ken Livingstone on 14th July 2000, renamed as Tower Millenium Pier.

Tower Subway

Subway from upstream of the Tower of London to Pickle Herring Wharf on the left bank
1870:  Built by James Henry Greathead using his newly invented tunnelling shield. This revolutionised tunnelling compared to the methods used previously, enabling the tunnel to completed at a fraction of the cost and considerably quicker than Brunel had achieved. Such was the success of this invention that the Greathead shield was used on nearly all subsequent tunnels under London. The Tower Subway was originally operated as a cable car service, but this proved to be uneconomic and the cars were taken out of service and replaced with a footpath. It thrived until Tower Bridge was built virtually over the top of it and it was abandoned shortly afterwards. Today the tunnel is used to carry a water main and telecommunications cables.

1919: U155, launched in 1916 as the Deutschland, was one of only two cargo submarines built in the First World War. She made two voyages to America in a mercantile capacity before being taken over and armed by the German Navy in February 1917.
She was surrendered to the British in November 1918 and in the following year was placed on display as a floating exhibition at Temple Pier.

U155 at Tower Bridge 1919
U155 at Tower Bridge, 1919

HMS Belfast

left bank, opposite the Tower of London

London Bridge City Pier

left bank

William Dunbar (1465?-1530?) To the City of London
Listen to 'To the City of London'

London, thou art of townes A per se.
Soveraign of cities, semeliest in sight,
Of high renoun, riches, and royaltie;
Of lordis, barons, and many goodly knyght;
Of most delectable lusty ladies bright;
Of famous prelatis in habitis clericall;
Of merchauntis full of substaunce and myght:
London, thou art the flow'r of Cities all.
 
Gladdith anon, thou lusty Troy Novaunt,
Citie that some tyme cleped was New Troy,
In all the erth, imperiall as thou stant,
Pryncesse of townes, of pleasure, and of joy,
A richer restith under no Christen roy;
For manly power, with craftis naturall,
Fourmeth none fairer sith the flode of Noy:
London, thou art the flow'r of Cities all.
 
Gemme of all joy, jasper of jocunditie,
Most myghty carbuncle of vertue and valour;
Strong Troy in vigour and in strenuytie;
Of royall cities rose and geraflour;
Empresse of townes, exalt in honour;
In beawtie beryng the crone imperiall;
Swete paradise precelling in pleasure:
London, thow art the flow'r of Cities all.
 
Above all rivers thy river hath renown,
Whose beryl streames, pleasant and preclare,
Under thy lusty walles runneth down;
Where many a swan doth swim with winges fair,
Where many a barge doth sail, and row with oar,
Where many a ship doth rest with top-royal.
O town of townes, patron and not compare,
 
Upon thy lusty Brigge of pylers white
Been merchauntis full royall to behold;
Upon thy stretis goeth many a seemely knyght
In velvet gownes and cheynes of fyne gold.
By Julyus Cesar thy Tow'r founded of old
May be the house of Mars victoryall,
Who's artillary with tonge may not be told:
London, thou art the flow'r of Cities all.
 
Strong be thy wallis that about thee standis;
Wise be the people that within thee dwellis;
Fresh is thy ryver with his lusty strandis;
Blith be thy chirches, wele sowndyng be thy bellis;
Riche be thy merchauntis in substaunce that excellis;
Fair be thy wives, right lovesom, white and small;
Clere be thy virgyns, lusty under kellis:
London, thow art the flow'r of Cities all.
 
Thy famous Maire, by pryncely governaunce,
With swerd of justice thee rulith prudently.
No Lord of Parys, Venyce, or Floraunce
In dignytie or honoure goeth to hym nye.
He is exampler, lode-star, and guye;
Principall patrone and rose orygynalle,
Above all Maires as maister most worthy:
London, thou art the flow'r of Cities all.

Northern Line Tunnel

1900: City branch tunnel.

South London Railway, 1890
South London Railway, 1890

1911: The River's Tale, Rudyard Kipling -
Listen to 'The River's tale'

Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew—
(Twenty bridges or twenty two)—
Wanted to know what the River knew,
For they were young and the Thames was old,
And this is the tale that the River told:—
 
“I walk my beat before London Town,
Five hours up and seven down.
Up I go till I end my run
At Tide-end-town, which is Teddington.
Down I come with the mud in my hands
And plaster it over the Maplin Sands.
But I’'d have you know that these waters of mine
Were once a branch of the River Rhine,
When hundreds of miles to the East I went
And England was joined to the Continent.
 
I remember the bat-winged lizard-birds,
The Age of Ice and the mammoth herds,
And the giant tigers that stalked them down
Through Regent’s Park into Camden Town.
And I remember like yesterday
The earliest Cockney who came my way,
When he pushed through the forest that lined the Strand,
With paint on his face and a club in his hand.
He was death to feather and fin and fur,
He trapped my beavers at Westminster.
He netted my salmon, he hunted my deer,
He killed my herons off Lambeth Pier.
He fought his neighbour with axes and swords,
Flint or bronze, at my upper fords,
While down at Greenwich, for slaves and tin,
The tall Phoenician ships stole in,
 
And North Sea war-boats, painted and gay,
Flashed like dragon-flies Erith way;
And Norseman and Negro and Gaul and Greek
Drank with the Britons in Barking Creek,
And life was gay, and the world was new,
And I was a mile across at Kew!
But the Roman came with a heavy hand,
And bridged and roaded and ruled the land,
And the Roman left and the Danes blew in—
And that’'s where your history-books begin!”

[ "Five hours up and seven down": If you check you will find this isn't quite right, but the time from low tide to the next high tide is definitely shorter than the time from high tide to the next low tide. Look at the tide graphs or the 24 hour tide clock and see. The low to high slope is steeper than the high to low slope. This is presumably due to the stream of the river contributing to a rising tide and tending to maintain the level of a falling tide.
"Tide-end-town, which is Teddington" has in modern times had scorn poured on such a simplistic derivation. But then Kipling might just have been right! ]

See also an imaginative gallery of pictures to go with Kipling's poem