After a great night sleep and a hearty breakfast, we are ready to head out the door for the Tower of London. 

Upon arrival, I was surprised at how large the whole complex was.  I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting... maybe just a tower and small courtyard, but the Tower of London is massive!

We were on a fairly tight time schedule and opted not to take a yeoman led tour but instead take an audio tour.  Waiting in line, Boo noticed that the gentleman next to us had his toe nails painted with the Brexit logo.

First tour was the Medieval Palace (click on link to read about the history of the Medieval Palace).  We started outside at the Traitor's Gate.   This water-gate entrance to the Tower of London was built in the late 1200s to create an easy entrance for the King.  As time went on, it became an entrance for those accused of treason, as they were placed on a barge and entered after passing under the London Bridge, where the heads of those executed were displayed on pikes. Yikes!

There was no water in the gate while we were there, but the ground was littered with coins.

Notice the difference in color on the ground of the traitor's gate. The brown areas are covered with coins.

On the sides of the Traitor's Gate are areas where archers would be stationed to ensure the King's safety.

We went up the stairs nearby and entered St. Thomas's Tower

Inside the tower was a video that explained the history of the building.  There were fabric samples so textile learners could feel how the different materials and fabrics would have felt.  This was a favorite of Bug's.

Next we headed into the Edward I bedchamber.

View from the window of Edward I bedchamber
Chapel off the corner of Edward I's bedchamber

Continuing on the tour of the Medieval Palace, we entered the Wakefield Tower, which was built by Henry III. 
Reconstruction of the throne of Henry III

Gorgeous colors in the large stained glass window
Directly across from the throne is a small chapel/prayer area.  The gorgeous stained glass window is located just above a small alter.  It is at this alter that Henry VI was murdered while at prayer, allegedly on the orders of his cousin, Edward IV.

Throne to the left, chapel to the right, this is the doorway leading out of the chamber.

As we moved from the Wakefield Tower on to the South Wall Walk, we had a great view of the Tower Bridge and the outer wall.

On the other side of the South Wall Walk, we entered the Lanthorn Tower and an exhibit of artifacts found on the grounds and from the medieval period.

Lead Toy Soldier
Personal Polyptych
At the end of this audio tour, we made our way to the Salt Tower and along the inner wall walk where we were surprised to see someone's Spongbob Squarepants pajamas and other laundry hung to dry on the outer wall walk.

After we dealt with a skinned knee and torn jeans from Ebabe taking a spill on the wall walk, we headed back down to the ground level and into the Jewel House to see the Crown Jewels.

The collection is guarded by Queen's Guards, and we were there to witness a changing of the guard.

Unfortunately we were not able to take pictures inside the Jewel House.  The Crown Jewel collection is amazing!  You can read more about them and see some photographs here.

Next up was the Beauchamp Tower.  This is the tower where many high-ranking prisoners were held and it is well known for the graffiti created by those prisoners.

Thomas Peverel, 1570
John Dudley, 1553-4
William Rame, 2 Apr 1559
There are more than 75 different carvings within the tower.  Many of these prisoners were later marched out to the Tower Green for their execution.

At the far end of the Tower Green sits the Queen's House.  Now the residence of the Governor of the Tower of London, this house is the only one of its kind to have survived the Great London Fire of 1666 due to its position behind the Tower walls.

The girls listening to the audio commentary

The last stop on this audio tour was the Bloody Tower, where Sir Walter Raleigh was a prisoner.

He was a prisoner here for thirteen years and his wife lived here with him.  Their youngest child was conceived and born here.  During his imprisonment, Raleigh wrote "History of the World" which was published four years before he was beheaded.

The Bloody Tower’s gruesome name seems to come from the mysterious disappearance of the two young princes who were said to have been murdered there by their uncle, Richard III, in the 1400s.
Their bones were thought to be discovered at our next stop, the White Tower, during a renovation in the late 1600s.

The White Tower is the oldest part of the Tower of London and was built by William the Conqueror between 1070-1100.  It currently houses the Royal Armories Museum and the famous Line of Kings, a 300+ year old display of armor on carved wooden horses and figures.

Hand-carved wooden horse for displaying armor
King Henry VIII's Armor
Tallest and smallest suits of armor
German field armor (tallest)
possibly Charles I's armor as a young boy (smallest)
Hand-carved faces for the Line of Kings
Interior of White Tower
Royal Swords
Dragon made from pieces of armor
There was so much more we could have explored at the Tower of London but time didn't allow for it.
As it was, we had to hustle through the last bit of the armory in order to get to our afternoon activity on time. Maybe next trip we can spend more time here.

We grabbed some lunch at the Victoria Station and hiked over to the Golden Tours facility to catch our bus to the Warner Brother's Making of Harry Potter Experience.  We had reserved the tickets, which included the bus ride to and from London about a month before.  We were incredibly lucky to have gotten them.  If you want to go, you have to reserve you tickets as far in advance as you can as there are limited numbers of timed-entry tickets.

Anyway, we got to see a few other London sights on our bus ride.
Royal Artillery Monument with Wellington Arch in background
Marble Arch

Hyde Park Screen
The flats above the shops have their own "street" level! How quaint!
Some of us were just too worn out to care about the sights as we drove.  Ebabe fell asleep on my shoulder and I had to put my hand on her head to keep it from bouncing around.  It's incredible how heavy a sleeping child's head can be!

I woke her up as we pulled into the parking lot of Warner Brothers Studios in Leavesden.

The tour is a mostly self-guided tour through two sound stages and an outdoor area full of props, costumes, set pieces, drawings, and models.

We had a timed entry and had to get back to the bus about 3 hours later. Without a map or any idea of how much was still ahead, we made it through in about 2 hours.

If we'd known how much we still had to go, we might have spent more time reading signs and examining details, but we didn't really feel short changed at all.

We had just enough time to grab a bite to eat in the cafe in the lobby before catching the bus back to London.

We arrived back at Victoria Station and grabbed the underground back toward the hotel.  In our heads we were wishing that we had our Hogwarts ride...

That's it for today.  If you want to read more about our experience at The Making of Harry Potter, I'm creating a separate post for it so click on the link.
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