The Arms and Armour (Part Two)
In the adjoining Sixteenth-century Room, fine arms and armour date from that century, but exclude English products. Most conspicuous is the massive suit of German armour made around 1540 for a man nearly seven feet tall. From the middle of the century is the splendid Lion Armour embossed with lions masks and damascened in gold.
On the top floor, the Tudor Room is devoted mainly to the armours made in the royal workshops at Greenwich which Henry VIII established about 1514. They include four armours made for the king himself -- one engraved and silver plated -- and others made at Greenwich for Tudor courtiers. There is an armour made for one of Elizabeth I's favourites, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, another for William Somerset, Earl of Worcester, another for Sir John Smythe, who vainly championed the use of the long bow many years after its inevitable super-session by firearms.
In the adjoining Stuart Room are beautiful little armours made in France and England for the Stuart kings and princes and the London-made harquebus armour of James II. They are the focus of a display devoted to the 17th century -- the last period before armour ceased to be used. Separate displays are devoted to the armour, arms and accoutrements of the richly equipped bodyguards, the light and heavy cavalry, and the infantry. The armour of the pikemen was the last to be worn by foot soldiers before the increased efficiency of firearms made its use impractical.
In the basement is the Mortar Room, where the bronze mortars on view include one of the bores used for fireworks at the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. At the far end of the room is the entrance to the sun-crypt of the Chapel of St John, where a carved and gilt figure of the Lion of St Mark, a trophy from Corfu, is flanked by a number of the finest small cannon from the armouries collection.
In the adjacent Cannon Room the walls are hung with relics of Henry VIII's army and a great array of armour and weapons returned to the Tower after the Civil War. Here also is the greater part of the Armouries collection of cannon, including several from the ships of Henry VIII's navy.
The New Armouries comprise a red brick building close to the White Tower. On the ground floor is a representative collection of armour and arms of Africa and the Orient. It is dominated by armour for an elephant, probably captured at the battle of Plassey in 1757. One Japanese armour on view was presented to James I by the governor of Edo in 1613. Many of the later sporting firearms on the first floor are of the highest quality. The flintlock guns include ones given by Louis XIV to the first Duke of Richmond, another was sent by Napoleon to Charles IV of Spain, and a third with matching powder flask, pair of pistols and stirrups, was made to the order of Elizabeth, Empress of Russia. Here also are the Reverend Alexander Forsyth's own models of the percussion lock he invented after years of experiment in the Tower. Superseding the flintlock, it completely revolutionised firearms development and, consequently, the science of war.
The Crown Jewels
During medieval times Crown Jewels were the personal property of the sovereign. It was fairly common practice for the King or Queen to pawn them or use them as security for loans in time of war. Most were kept at the Tower, particularly when the sovereign was in residence there, although the Coronation Regalia was held at Westminster Abbey. Sometime after 1660, a new set of Regalia was made to replace what had been destroyed during the Commonwealth. It was at that time that the Tower became the permanent home of the Crown Jewels and put on public display.
The Crown Jewels are what most visitors to the Tower of London come to see. This incomparable collection of crowns, orbs, swords, sceptres and other regalia, and gold and silver plate was refashioned in 1661 after parliament had ordered the original gold and precious metals to be melted down for coinage in 1649.
The Imperial State Crown worn by monarchs at their coronations is set with jewels of great antiquity and historical significance. The oldest is Edward the Confessor's sapphire, believed to have been worn by him in a ring. The great gem above the rim is the ancient balas-ruby, known as the Black Prince's ruby, which is said to have been given to him by Pedro the Cruel of Castile.
From the intersections of the arches hang four superb drop pearls, the so-called Queen Elizabeth's Earrings, but there is no evidence that she ever wore them in this way. Set in the rim at the back of the crown is the Stuart sapphire. It is probably much older than its name implies, but is known to have been in the possession of James II when he fled to France after his deposition. It was formerly mounted in the rim, at the front, but was displaced by the Second Star of Africa cut from the Cullinan diamond. In addition to these jewels, the Imperial State Crown contains over 3,000 diamonds and pearls, as well as fine sapphires, emeralds, and rubies.
The Crown Jewels have in the past resided in both the White Tower and in the Martin Tower. Today they have their home in Jewel House which is a part of the Waterloo Barracks (left side of photo). [Greeley/Gilmore]
The Royal Sceptre with the Cross is a rod of chased gold, with the peerless Star of Africa cut from the Cullinnan diamond held in a heart shaped mount. Above this is a superb amethyst with a diamond-encrusted cross set with an emerald.
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's Crown was made for her coronation as queen consort in 1937. This graceful crown is set with diamonds, dominated by the famous Koh-i-noor. Its Indian name means "Mountain of Light" and the jewel has a long and turbulent history. Tradition says that its male owners will suffer misfortune, but women who possess it will rule the world.
These are some of the ceremonies that take place at the Tower of London.
Ceremony of Keys
The traditional locking up of the Tower of London each night. This ceremony has been carried out every night for the last 700 years.
Set admit the mighty battlements of this ancient historic fortress, it is one of the oldest and most colourful surviving ceremonies of it's kind, having been enacted every night without fail for approximately seven hundred years, in much the same form as we know it today.
The exact origin of the Ceremony is somewhat obscure, though it probably dates from the time of the White Tower - the great Norman fortress commenced by William the Conqueror and completed in about 1080 AD - become regularly used as a Royal stronghold in the capital city.
As the fortifications around the Tower were increased from time to time so it became used not only as Royal residence, but also as the Mint and State Prison. The Country's gold was stored at the Tower, as were the Royal Records and Royal Regalia, and numerous historical figures were imprisoned within it's walls for political reasons, many of whom were never to emerge to freedom, dying either from natural causes or by execution on Tower Green or Tower Hill.
The surrounding populaces were not always in sympathy with activities inside the Tower, and as enemies of the King might attempt to rescue prisoners or to steal the Crown Jewels, the need for security was very great. Thus it was in olden times that every night at dusk the Gentlemen Porter - now known as the Chief Yeoman Warder - would collect an armed escort, and would Lock and secure all the gates and doors leading into the Tower, thereby making it proof against hostile attack or intrigue, This done, the Keys would be handed over to the Tower Governor for safe keeping during the night.
In 1826, the Duke of Wellington (then Constable of the Tower) ordered that the time of the Ceremony be fixed at ten o'clock each night, so as to ensure that his soldiers were all inside the Tower before the gates were locked.
Accordingly, every night at exactly 7 minutes to ten, the Chief Warder emerges from the Byward Tower, carrying the traditional lantern - still lighted with a piece of candle - and in the other the Queen's Keys. He proceeds at a dignified pace to the Bloody Tower, where an escort consisting of two sentries, - a Sergeant and a representative Drummer are marched to the outer gate. En route, all guards and sentries present arms as the Queen's Keys pass.