The next time you visit the Tower of London, how about having a tour with a Yeoman Warder? Most tourists know them better as the Beefeaters, but they're not just there for the holidaymakers -- they are all ex-military and have a very real job to do: they protect the treasures in the Tower -- chief of which is the Queen's own Crown Jewels.
The cost of a Yeoman Warder Tour is included in the price of your entry ticket. The tours start every half hour from the main gate (by the moat), and last for about sixty minutes.
Their tours are always very informative, and contain tales of intrigue, imprisonment, execution and torture (there are lots of very bloody stories!). You'll hear all about the traitors -- Guy Fawkes, Thomas More and more -- and all the Royal wives of Henry VIII who ended up on the chopping block at Tower Green. They'll take you to Traitor's Gate and the Bloody Tower, and show you where the ravens are kept. It's all very interesting and amusing, and their are enough jokes and gory bits to keep the kids entertained.
The only downside is the crowd-size, because you'll be standing in a crowd of 100 people at least (and usually a lot more). Luckily the guards are all ex-military so it's never an effort to hear their voices -- they can shout louder than a plane taking off. But it does mean that he can't go inside any of the towers because all the winding stairs and tiny rooms will be too small to squeeze the crowd into. He does take you inside the Chapel Royal of St Peter and Vincula, though, where they buried the body of Anne Boleyn. This place is usually closed to tourists during the day, so the tour is worth doing simply to see that.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to add another couple of hours after it ends. The Beefeater tour only lasts for sixty minutes, but he doesn't show you inside any of the main towers. So you will need to walk around the Tower again after its finished to see inside the Bloody Tower, White Tower, and visit the Crown Jewels.
Craig has been to the Tower of London countless times, and he thinks that the Yeoman Warder tour is definitely worth doing. You can read his review of the tour on his blog. He thinks it's worth doing simply to see inside the Chapel. The only other way of seeing inside the chapel is by attending a Sunday service. Feel free to ask Craig about the tour before you go, so he can tell you what it's like.
There are always plenty of other events at the Tower of London. One of our favourites is the Ceremony of the Keys. The also lay on some Twilight tours after hours, but you'll have to visit during the winter for those.
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Craig’s review – “Don't call them Beefeaters because they don't like it. (That's what I've been told -- I'm not going to test it out.) Apparently the nickname dates from the days when they couldn't afford to pay them coins so they let them eat the meat from the King's kitchens instead. The starving local Londoners didn't like that very much and hissed "beef eaters!" at them e… continued”
Read Craig’s review of this event
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