28 February 2014
Jails and Prisons: Tower of London
William the Conqueror began constructing what would become the Tower of London.
The fortifications he devised were originally designed to control access to the city’s port on the
Thames River. The Tower of London has been used for many different things over the years
(“Tower of London”).
The Tower of London is a famous fortress that is a cluster of fortified buildings enclosed with a protective wall. The White Tower was built within the old Roman city wall, but by the
1100s the fortifications had expanded beyond that boundary (Austrian 128). During the 12th and
13th centuries the White Tower became the nucleus of multiple concentric defenses enclosing an inner and outer ward. The most wellknown of the inner ward are the Bloody Tower, the
Beauchamp Tower, and the Wakefield Tower. The outer ward is surrounded by the moat, which used to be fed by the Thames River, which has been drained since 1843 (“Tower of London”).
During Shakespeare’s time most people entered through a gate that lead from the Thames River to the Tower’s moat (Austrian 128). Its nickname Traitors’ Gate derives from the prisoners brought through it to the Tower, which was long used as a state prison (“Tower of London”).
The Tower of London is historically known for many different things. Its buildings and grounds served as a royal palace, a political prison, a place of execution, an arsenal, a royal mint, a public records office, and a zoo where exotic animals were kept for pleasure of the royal court(known as the Lion Tower) (“Tower of London”). It’s said that if the ravens ever get out,
the Tower of London and the British Kingdom will fall. In reassurance that doesn’t happen, the ravens’ wings are regularly clipped (Austrian 129). Elisabeth spent time in the Tower when her sister, Mary, was suspicious of her plotting to seize the throne (Austrian 129). Other notable inmates included the soldier and conspirator Guy Fawkes, the adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh, and
Sir Roger Casement, who was arrested for treason during World War I (“Tower of London”).
The Tower of London is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. The
ravens kept at the Tower are an attraction themselves and one of the officials is in charge of