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.
Guest – “" The most famous prisoners of all were the so-called Princes in the Tower. When King Edward IV died in 1483, his sons were locked inside Tower for safe-keeping. They mysteriously vanished a short time later and their uncle Richard III usurped the throne. Their skeletal remains were found hidden in the building two centuries later, and exhumed in 1933." Get it right! This is popular fiction started by Tudor propaganda. It has been shown many times that Richard III did [u]not[u] murder the Princes! He was not the usurper, Henry VII was and organised the deaths of the boys after Richard had been betrayed and slain at Bosworth. Henry was the principle murderer here, and systematically had most of the rest of their family judicially murdered, leaving only two to be polished off by Henry VIII. Try reading The Daughter of Time, published by Josephine Tey in 1951 just before her death. It may be mystery thriller fiction, but it is a brilliant portrayal of the truth versus popular”
Guest – “The truth is that nobody knows for sure who was behind it, and nobody ever will... Because there isn't enough evidence. All you can do is judge the suspects on the evidence that does exist, and the evidence seems to point mostly towards Richard. He had the means, and the best motive. Obviously he didn't actually kill them himself, he would have got someone else to do it. Didn't the boys mother agree to marry Henry before the battle of Bosworth, in anticipation of making him king? She would have been highly unlikely to do that if she didn't already believe that her sons were dead. Why would she betray her young sons in favour of an untested usurper? You sound like you might be someone from that Richard III society, who are trying to rehabilitate his image. But didn't they also claim that Richard's bent spine was all tudor propaganda? but that was shown to be true when they dug up the skeleton in the car park -- so the "tudor propaganda" turned out to be reliable in that c”
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”
Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London – Every night – The Ceremony of the Keys is over 700 years old, and represents the traditional locking up of the Tower of London at night.
Sunday service at the Tower of London – Every Sun (except during Aug) – You can attend a Sunday service at the Chapel Royal in the Tower of London -- one of the most historic churches in the City.
62-gun salute for Prince Charles’ birthday – 14 Nov 2018 – The HAC will be firing off a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London, to make sure everyone knows it's Prince Charles' birthday.
Changing the Guard at Horse Guards – Every day – Changing the Guard at Horse Guards is similar to the ceremony at Buckingham Palace, but is usually a lot less crowded.
4 O’Clock Parade, or Dismounting Ceremony – Every day – The Dismounting Ceremony (or 4 O'Clock Parade) is a short ceremony that takes place every day at the Horse Guards.
Private tour of the Churchill War Rooms – Every day – Enjoy a private tour of the Churchill War Rooms, and experience Winston Churchill's wartime bunker from behind the glass.
Aftermath — Art In The Wake Of World War I – 5 Jun to 16 Sep 2018 – Tate Britain's 'Aftermath' exhibition will explore how British, German and French artists responded at the end of World War I.
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans