Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Tower

An essential tourist attraction to first-time visitors to London is the Tower of London.  Hoards of people visit to see the city's castle which has a long list of famous prisoners.  The same was true of tourists in the eighteenth century.  The Tower was rarely used to house prisoners and, like today, it housed the crown jewels which were on display for the public.  For a small fee you could view the royal jewels, which seems quite daring in the days before CCTV and bullet-proof glass.  A renewed interest in the medieval period and the Gothic also brought visitors into the Tower.

Something that eighteenth-century visitors did get to enjoy that we no longer do in the present age was the Tower's menagerie.  The Royal Menagerie at the Tower had been there for centuries and had an array of amazing animals through its many monarchs such as elephants, leopards, lions, and even a polar bear.  For the small price of 3 half-pence you could gain admission but if you didn't have that kind of money, a cat or dog would suffice.  Why a cat or dog? Well, what else were the lions going to eat? Yikes; I surely wouldn't be there during feeding time, how traumatizing!


  1. Is there a tower cam? Retro

  2. There is a really great novel that just came out called The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise. It is by Julia Stuart. It mostly defies an easy explanation, other than it is about the guards and other residents of the Tower (including the ghosts) and an effort to return the menagerie to the grounds. Really weird and random and fun if you like Tower trivia.

  3. Dogs and cats??? Oh noes! I agree. Wouldn't have ventured in there during feeding time to save my life!