The Tower of London With Kids
Activity: The Tower of London. Tube Stop: Tower Hill. Cost: £22.70/adult, £10.75/5-15. Hours: 9-5:30.
Today we will be exploring The Tower of London! It's one of the more expensive London landmarks to get into, but it's worth it for the history and The Crown Jewels. On your way in, you'll also get to see Tower Bridge. Don't mix it up with London Bridge. London Bridge is near Big Ben.
Although it looks similar in style to the Tower of London, it is actually relatively new (built in 1866). The Tower of London was built in 1066. Every time I read a date like that, I can't help but marvel at how new the USA is! Our oldest buildings are only about 300 years old while some of the oldest buildings in Europe are thousands of years old!
After you get your Insta snap with Tower Bridge and you make sure your caption doesn't say London Bridge, go into the building. The Tower of London is the royal prison to end all royal prisons. The list of people mentioned in this guide who have been imprisoned or killed here is long! Elizabeth I, her mother Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard (wife #5), Lady Jane Grey, among others. Basically, don't mess with the royals.
If you can, snag a Yeoman tour. They are the guys in the red outfits. There are always people in costume around The Tower of London, so see if you can watch them put on one of their little reenactments. Don't miss the monument to where Anne Boleyn was beheaded!
While you're here, you are going to learn about three monarchs that ruled after Henry VIII did his thing (see Day 5 for his story). The line of succession after Henry went Edward (Wife #3 Jane Seymour's kid), Mary (wife #1 Catherine's kid), and Elizabeth (wife #2 Anne Boelyn's kid).
These three all had different opinions on which religion England should follow. Remember Henry VIII switched everyone from Catholicism to The Church of England.
Edward was crowned at the age of 9 and died at the age of 15. During his 6 years as King, his main goal was to get everyone to be Protestant. When he found out he was dying, item one on his agenda was to make sure his half-siblings Mary and Elizabeth wouldn't get the throne because he knew they wouldn't want to be Protestant. He put a random cousin Lady Jane Gray in charge. After his death, Lady Jane Gray ruled for exactly 9 days before Mary deposed and beheaded her.. Sorry Edward!
Mary ruled for 5 years. Her main goal during this time was to reverse what her silly father Henry VIII had done and get everyone back to Roman Catholicism. She had a violent way of achieving this goal. She burned 300 Protestants at the stake, earning her the title of "Bloody Mary." History remembers her as a vengeful queen, angry about what her father did to her mother. There's an urban legend that says if you say the name "Bloody Mary" into a mirror three times in a darkened room, she will appear behind you in the mirror. Nooooo thank you.
After Mary's death, Elizabeth took over. Mary had actually had her imprisoned for a full year because she thought she was sympathetic with the Protestants. So if you think your siblings are mean, at least they didn't throw you in The Tower of London!
Elizabeth ruled for 44 years. She switched everyone back to Protestant and set up the church with herself as the head. She never married (likely not into marriage because of her crazy father Henry!) but instead insisted she was "married to her country." England flourished under her rule. She was level-headed and supported the arts. Shakespeare lived during her reign (The Elizabethan Era) and she went to lots of his shows.
Elizabeth died at the old age of 69 (people didn't live as long back then) and was buried in Westminster Abbey. She shares a tomb with her half-sister Mary. The tomb inscription's Latin translation translates to "Consorts in realm and tomb, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of resurrection".