TOWER OF LONDON
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
As much as it was interesting to learn about the queens and other “noble” people that were imprisoned and subsequently beheaded, hanged, drawn and quartered or shot in the Tower (and seeing the Crown Jewels), I was much more interested in learning about the ravens and the lives of the Beefeaters (Yeoman Warders is their proper name). They got the name Beefeaters as part of their salary was made up with chunks of beef - right up to the 1800s.
There are 37 Warders - and they all live within the walls of the fortress. It is a requirement. I was surprised to learn that there are two, three, four, five and six bedroom apartments and lots of families with children within the walls. It is like a small village, numbering around 130. They even have their own pub! And a doctor on site.
The first female Yeoman Warder arrived at the Tower in 2007. I got chatting with the one, and only one, I saw. Each Warder comes from a military background, must be between the ages of 42 and 55, and been in service for at least 22 years before they are offered the position. Also, they had to have been awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. She loves the life within the walls and lives there with her husband who has a job on the “outside”.
Now, there are seven ravens at the Tower. The minimum requirement is six- they keep one as a spare! There are great myths and legends associated with these ravens. King Charles II ordered the birds to be killed as they were interfering with astronomical observations. However, he was told that if the ravens left the Tower the White Tower would fall and a great disaster would befall the Kingdom. They were kept!
The ravens all have names and their very own keeper, known as the Ravenmaster. They are called Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Erin, Poppy and Merlina. Each day they are fed 6oz of raw meat, and bird biscuits soaked in blood. Once a week they are given an egg as well as the occasional rabbit - fur and all. They get scraps from the Mess as well. So they are very well looked after.
To stop them flying over the walls, one wing is clipped (doesn’t hurt them) which unbalances them. One did manage to do this, however, and was found at an East End pub in 1981. They can be very naughty and get “dismissed from service”, one such raven being George, who was given to the Welsh Mountain Zoo with the reprimand of ‘conduct unsatisfactory, service therefore no longer required’.
Ravens can live to a good age - one called Jim Crow lived for 44 years.
It’s an incredible, secluded and extremely historic place in the centre of London. We have been meaning to come since arriving here. Steve has been on a previous visit but this was my first time and I loved it. I’m sure lots of you have been.