Ceremony of the Keys is No.1 in our list of things to do for free in London
Here's your chance to be part of an ancient ceremony -- a truly ancient one -- because the Ceremony of the Keys has been taking place every night, without fail, for at least 700 years.
What you'll be witnessing is the locking up of the Tower of London after everybody has gone home. The importance of securing this 1,000 year old fortress is still very important because, whilst the monarch no longer resides at the royal palace, the Crown Jewels and many other treasures still do.
The evening will begin when one of the Yeoman Warders (better known as the Beefeaters) escorts you into the Tower after it has closed. He will take you straight up Water Lane towards Traitor's Gate and the Bloody Tower, where you'll hear some gruesome tales about the Tower's history. He'll tell you all about Guy Fawkes and William Wallace, where they they got locked up and tortured, and where they found the bones of the two little princes buried under the stairs.
Hopefully it will be a cold, dark night, because the best thing about this parade is the atmosphere. The Tower will be totally clear of tourists and the only lights you'll see are the dusty yellow lamplights swinging from the lampposts. You will be standing there in the cold whilst the traditional locking of the gates happens all around you... you'll see the lone guard marching down to the Byward Tower, and get challenged for the password by an armed sentry. Then you'll march through the Bloody Tower arch, and hear the Last Post sound out in the shadow of the White Tower.
Craig has actually been to this ceremony himself, and thinks that it is one of the best things you can do in London. It really is that good. Read his Ceremony of the Keys review before you go, so you can get a feeling for the atmosphere and the kind of things you'll see on the night. Feel free to ask a question about the Ceremony of the Keys, or write your own review on the forum. You might like to read Craig's review of the Tower of London as well.
There are always plenty of other events at the Tower of London. You might like to come back during the day and have a tour with one of the Beefeaters (the Yeoman Warders). Or how about attending a church service at the Tower of London? You can sit in the same chapel that houses the bones of Anne Boleyn!
Guest – “I should like to bring a coach party of Lea Valley U3A members to the Ceremony of the Keys in early summer at a date to be agreed. I should like to arrange a meal as well in the Tower. I know several coach parties that have done this, and greatly enjoyed the event. I would be grateful if you could let me have details of times, cost of meal and dates in May or June which are available. My friend, coach driver Gary Whitfield had offered to arrange this event for me as he has arranged these events in the past, but I have not heard from him. I don't know whether he has made a provisional date already? I look forward to your reply and our visit, Kind regards, Elizabeth Brown (Mrs.)”
Admin – “We're not the Tower of London — we're a London tourist website. It sounds like you meant to contact the Tower. There's a link to their website in the post above yours.”
> Craig’s review of this event – “One of the best things about going to the Ceremony of the Keys is that you get to see a little bit of London at night. It starts at half-past nine, but if you take the tube to Tower Hill five minutes beforehand then you really are missing out on a treat. So take a tip from me -- go for a bit of a walk along the river beforehand. Get the tube to London Bridge instead a… continued”
Yeoman Warder tour, at the Tower of London – Every day – One of the best ways of seeing the Tower of London is alongside a Yeoman Warder (better known as the "Beefeaters").
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 to mark the Queen’s Coronation – 3 Jun 2019 – The HAC will be firing a 62-gun salute by the Tower of London, to mark the anniversary of the Queen's Coronation in 1953.
62-gun salute, to mark Prince Philip’s birthday – 10 Jun 2019 – The HAC will be firing off a 62-gun salute by Gun Wharf at the Tower of London to honour Prince Philip's 98th birthday.
Changing the Guard at Horse Guards – Every day – Changing the Guard at Horse Guards is similar to Buckingham Palace but it's less crowded and takes place every day
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 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.
Check out our guide to all the daily parades in London
Here are some more free events in London if you want a cheap day out
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|Military events in July|