The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 2

Allen, Thomas


The is situated on the east side of the city, adjoining the Thames, and is surrounded by a broad and deep ditch, in some places an feet wide, supplied with water from the Thames, which washes its south bounds; within which is a strong and lofty wall.

The contents of the plot, within the walls, measure acres and rods. And the circumference, on the outside of the ditch, measures feet: in the inner ward stand the following towers, commonly known by the following names, the White Tower, Bloody, Constable, Lanthorn, Brick, Salt, Broad Arrow, Bowyers, Flint, Devereux, Beauchamp, Record, the Bell, and the Jewel Tower, and a spacious wharf next the river.

Maitland says,

it has been a matter of great debate, whether this royal fortress be within the city of London: but that was finally determined, upon a view and strict examination, in Michaelmas Term,


James I, in the trial of the murderers of sir Thomas Overbury, who was poisoned in a chamber situate on the west part of the ancient wall of London, which is yet discoverable, and extendeth through the Tower; when it was adjudged, that all that portion of the Tower which is environed within the said wall, or on the west part thereof, is within the city of London, within the ward of the Tower, and parish of All Saints, Barking; and that the residue of this fortress, lying on the east of the said ancient wall, is within the county of Middlesex. And accordingly the murderers were tried in London.

There can be no doubt as to the fact of the Romans having erected a fort on the site of the Tower, the discoveries of their remains made in fully support this assertion, and it is certainly probable that they fortified the banks of the river on this spot as the situation was so particularly desirable. The building known to have been erected here is the White Tower, which was built about by Gundulph, bishop of Rochester. This fortress or keep, stands upon the spot where the bulwark once stood, in the east part of the wall from the Thames. It was greatly shaken in the year , by a violent tempest of wind, which, amongst other damages, blew down houses in the city: which misfortune was repaired, and a castle was built under the same tower, on the south side, which was incastellated round about, at a great expence.


These repairs and additions were not finished till the reign of king Henry I. And yet this tower stood in need of further help in , when Thomas a Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, and chancellor to king Henry II. caused it to be repaired again. In lord chancellor Longchamp, bishop of Ely, encompassed the premises with a wall and ditch; and in this work, in a very arbitrary manner, broke into and deprived both the church of the Holy Trinity, the hospital of St. Catharine, and the city of London, of some of their lands: for, after he had enclosed the Tower and Castle with an outward wall of stone embattled, he caused a deep ditch to be dug round, from the south-east point by the north side to the south-west corner of the said wall, in order to environ it with the river Thames: in which work the mill belonging to the brethren of the hospital of St. Catharine's, and standing on the site of Iron-gate, as at present called, was removed, and part of a garden, which they had let to the king at per ann. was rooted up, and, for the most part, laid waste; and another piece of ground next Smithfield, belonging to the priory of the Holy Trinity without , worth half a mark per annum, was taken from it; and the city was deprived of all the ground from the White Tower to the Postern Gate.

In king Henry III. in order to overawe the citizens, and to make them the more readily submit to his exactions, added several bulwarks to the foregoing: but they were so much damaged by an earthquake in the following year, that his majesty commanded them to be restored and augmented; which, when finished, consisted of a stone gate, bulwark, &c. on the west side or entrance. But this new work, which is recorded to have cost upwards of , fell down in the same manner a few years after.

The same king also commanded the keepers of the tower work to repair the garner within the said Tower, and to amend it well throughout, wherever it stood in need; and so to lengthen the leaden gutters of the great tower, from the top, for the conveyance of rain water, that they should reach to the ground, to prevent the dripping of the rain water upon the new plaister work, to the great detriment and decay thereof; and to make upon the said tower, on the south side above, deep alures, of good and strong timber, and to be well leaded all over; by which people might see even to the foot of the said tower, and, if needful, to ascend and descend the better: also to whiten the whole chapel of St. John the Evangelist in the same tower; and also the old wall about the same tower; from whence it is probable this building took the name of the White Tower.

King Edward I. so highly approved of the improvements made to this fortress by king Henry, that he, in the year of his reign, commanded his treasurer and chamberlain to take certain sums of money out of his exchequer for finishing the work of the


ditch, then new made about the said bulwark, now called the Lion Tower; so called from the lions and other wild beasts lodged therein by the king's command, supposed to be the fancy of Henry I. who greatly delighted in those foreign animals. Henry III. received a present from the emperor Frederic in , of leopards, [which were committed to the same place under proper keepers; and king Edward II. commanded the sheriffs of London to pay out of the fee-farm of the city sixpence per day to the keeper of the leopards for their maintenance, and halfpence for the diet of their keeper. In the of Edward III. there remained in this Tower only leopard; but Robert Bowre was charged with the custody of lion, lioness, and cattes lions. This bulwark is still continued in the same use, as will be noticed hereafter.

King Edward IV. added to the fortifications of the , and inclosed with a brick wall a piece of ground, taken out of , west from the Lions'-Tower, now called the bulwark. In the year of this reign, the king's officers erected a scaffold and gallows for the execution of offenders: of which, when the city complained, the king commanded the following proclamation to be published:

Forasmuch as on the 7th day of this present month of November, gallows were erected and set up besides our Tower of London, within the liberties and franchises of our city of London, in derogation and prejudice of the liberties and franchises of this city; the king our sovereign lord willeth, that it be certainly understood, that the erection and setting--up of the said gallows was not done by his commandment. Wherefore the king our sovereign lord willeth, that the erection or setting--up of the said gallows be not any precedent or example, thereby hereafter to be taken in hurt, prejudice, or derogation of the franchises, liberties, and privileges of the city, which he at all times hath had, and hath in his benevolence, tender favour, and good grace, &c.

At Westminster, the 9th of November, in the 5th year of our reign.

From which time the city had until of late years always a large scaffold and gallows of timber, prepared at their expence, for the execution of such as are ordered to be hanged or beheaded on .

There are other repairs recorded to have been done to this fortress, particularly in the year , when masons, bricklayers, and other workmen were pressed by the surveyor of the king's works to expedite the buildings therein, commanded by king Richard III. In Henry VIII. repaired the White Tower, and some other parts. And in the next reign a Frenchman, who lodged in the round bulwark, between the west-gate and the postern or drawbridge, called the Warder's-gate, blew up the said bulwark, and


himself therewith, without further damage; which bulwark was immediately rebuilt.

The encroachments on the soil of this royal fortress, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, by a great number of tenements erected over the ditch, and upon the waste ground within its liberty, became such a nuisance, incumbrance, and weakening to the Tower, that, after a strict inquiry into its present state, there issued an order from the privy council for the pulling of them all down; which was accordingly executed, to the great improvement and advantage of the fortification.

But the most thorough repairs were made after the restoration: in the ditch was scoured, all the wharfing about it was new built of brick and stone, and sluices contrived for letting in and retaining the Thames water, as occasion might require. The walls and windows of the White Tower, being very much decayed, were mended, of the turrets were wholly taken down, and new funds set up, with the king's arms and imperial crowns over them; all which were made entirely new, the old having been defaced by the garrison in the time of the commonwealth.

Since that period measures have been taken for strengthening the city fortress, as was the case so late as , when the garrison was increased;




says Bayley, in his history of the Tower,

were employed in repairing the fortifications, opening embrasures, and mounting cannon; and on the western side of the fortress, a strong barrier was formed with old casks, filled with earth and rubble; the gates were closed at an early hour, and no


but the military allowed to go upon the ramparts.

From the time that the Tower was erected, until the reign of queen Elizabeth, it was frequently used as a palace where our monarchs

kept open household and frank resort,

and where the royal court, and even parliaments, were held. From the Tower all processions and pageants generally proceeded, whether it was to a tournament or a coronation; and the kings of England, from the time of Richard II. to the accession of James II., always proceeded from the Tower to to be crowned, in grand procession, with the exception of Charles I. who was prevented by the plague.

The buildings at present within the walls, exclusive of the towers mentioned before, are, the Church, the offices of Ordnance, of the keepers of the Records, the Jewel office, the Horse Armoury, the Grand Storehouse, the New or Small Armoury, handsome brick houses for the chief officers residing in the Tower, with many lesser houses for other officers, barracks for soldiers on duty, besides prisons for prisoners of state, &c. In digging the foundations of those large store-houses, which are situate on the south side of the White Tower, the workmen (in , or


thereabouts) met with old foundations of stone, above yards in breadth, supposed to be the remains of some ancient tower on that spot, of which history gives no account ; and so cemented together, that it was with much difficulty they were forced up by beetle and wedges.

The Tower stands on the north side of the river Thames, from which it is separated by a convenient wharf and narrow ditch, over which is a draw-bridge, for the more easy receiving or sending out ammunition, and naval and military stores. On this wharf is a long and beautiful platform, whereon were placed pieces of cannon, pounders, mounted on very handsome carriages, and which were fired on days of state or public rejoicings; small pieces are now used for those purposes.

Within the walls, on a line with this wharf, is a platform yards long, called the Ladies' Line, because much frequented by the ladies in the summer. It is shaded within by a row of lofty trees, and without, commands a most delightful prospect of the shipping in the river. The ascent to this line is by stone steps, and being once upon it, a person may walk almost round the walls of the Tower; in the course of which there are batteries. The of these is called the Devil's Battery, where is also a platform, on which are mounted pieces of cannon, though on the battery itself are only . The is called the Stone Battery, and is defended by pieces of cannon : and the last is called the Wooden Battery, mounted with pieces of cannon, all pounders.

The Tower-wharf is enclosed at each end by gates, which are opened every morning for the convenience of a free intercourse between the respective inhabitants of the Tower, the city, and its Suburbs.

Under this wharf is a water-gate, through the Tower-wall, commonly called the Traitor's-gate; because it was customary in former times to convey traitors, and other state prisoners, to and from the Tower by water, through this gate; but, at this time, such persons are publicly admitted at the main entrance.

Over the water-gate is a regular building, terminated at each end by a round tower, on which are embrasures for cannon. The infirmary for the afflicted military was formerly in this building, but now it is converted into regular apartments for persons employed in the ordnance department, also a mill, and the water-works for supplying the garrison with water from the Thames, by means of a steam-engine.

The principal entrance into the Tower is by gates to the west. The of these opens to a court, on the right hand of which is the Lion's Tower. The gate opens to a stone bridge built over the ditch; at the inter end of which is the gate,


much stronger than the former, having a portcullis to let down upon occasion, and being guarded, not only by soldiers, but by the warders of the Tower. Within this gate, on the right hand, is the draw-bridge for foot passengers, to and from the Tower-wharf.

The principal officer, to whom the government of this fortress is committed, is called the Constable of the Tower, and is usually of distinguished quality, as his post at all coronations, and other state ceremonies, is of the utmost importance, having the crown and other regalia in his custody.

The upon record that enjoyed this important post was Othowenus, in the reign of king Stephen, who was succeeded by Acolivillus, Otho, and Godfrey Magnaville, earl of Essex, in the same reign. We afterwards find John Holland, duke of Exeter, in the reign of Henry VI. the earl of Oxford in , and the earl of Lincoln in the reign of Edward VI. amongst these constables, of whom history does not afford any perfect list.

King Richard III. appointed Robert Brackenbury, esq. constable of the Tower in , as well attached to his interest, and ready to obey all his commands; and, to keep him more attached to him, his majesty gave him also the office of master and operator of monies; the office of keeper of the exchange within the ; the office of keeping the lions as mentioned before; the constableship of Tunbridge-castle in Kent, with a fee of ; the stewardship of the lordship of Ware, with a fee of a ; the manors of Mote, Morden, Delhing, and Newingdon, in Kent, and all the other lands late the earl Rivers's, to the value of . yearly; the manors of Crawthory and Coherede, and other tenements and lands in Romney-marsh, of the yearly value of ; the manor of Glastonbury, and all other lands and tenements in the counties of Kent, Surry, and Sussex, which were Walter Roberts's, value per annum, besides a yearly salary of to be paid him out of the revenues of Writtle, &c. But all these favours were not sufficient to engage him to perpetrate the dark designs of Richard against his nephews; wherefore he was, by a special warrant from the king, commanded to surrender up the keys of the Tower, which, in effect, was all his power in that fortress, to sir James Tyrrel, for the space of night, under the pretence of ordering some special matters therein; in which night, Tyrrel, a man of a profligate conscience, and loaded with great promises of advantage, being constituted constable, during that short sequestration of the office, undertook and executed the treason upon the princes. Richard, having by this bloody means secured the crown to himself, shewed his liberality to the traitor and murderer, by conferring on him great favours. But the scrupulous Brackenbury, notwithstanding his patent of constable of


the Tower was granted for the term of his life, was discharged from that honourable post in the year .

This officer had many great privileges due to him from the ships of the merchants of London; as more particularly is set forth by the instruments granted by king Richard II. and his parliament, to sir Thomas Murrieux.

He was enjoined in and Henry III. to compel those who brought fish in ships to sell at London, to deliver the said fish at .

The power of the constable of the Tower extended to the ports, and to arrest ships in the Thames, if there were occasion. A precept was sent to him in the of Henry III. to arrest certain ships in time of dearth of corn, to prevent the transportation of it.

In the of Henry III. the king commanded the abbot of , That is, to carry brush or underwood, corn, or other victuals, as well by land as by water, to the said abbey, so that no prizal be made to the king's use.

In the of Edward III. there were letters patent issued for making allowances to the constables of the Tower for the wages of the king's prisoners there, viz. for a knight a day, and for an esquire penny.

In the of the same king there were orders for the constable of the Tower to repair the defects in the water, [the river Lea] or the banks thereof, running from Ware to Waltham, and so to London.

These fees were ordered by Philip and Mary, in the and years of their reign ; that the constable shall have of their majesties, at the receipt of the exchequer, for his entertainment, the yearly fee or wages of a , and an by the year for the diet of poor prisoners, who have not wherewithal to pay for their diets. So that the said poor prisoners may be examined within days after their coming into his custody, and be discharged again within days after they have been examined.

The said constable shall have of every duke, if there be any committed by their majesties to the said Tower, for the suit of his irons, ; and for a marquis ; and for the board of every such duke or marquis, weekly, ; and for the chaplain's board of every such duke or marquis, every week ; and for every of his gentlemen ; and for every of his yeomen waiting upon him before his attainder, and after his attainder as their majesties shall appoint

Item, the said constable shall have for every earl and viscount, for the suit of his irons, ; and for their board every


week ; and for the gentlemen and yeomen, as in the duke's diet, before the attainder; and after at their majesties' will.

Item, the said constable shall have for every baron and lord, of the degree, as the younger son of a duke or marquis; and for a knight of the garter, for the suit of irons, ; and for his board weekly , and for his gentlemen and yeomen as before.

Item, the said constable shall have for every other knight or gentlemen of above a estate, for suit of his irons, ; and also for his board weekly ; and for every of his gentlemen and yeomen as before.

Item, the said constable shall have of every gentleman of the estate of an by the year, and under, for the suit of his irons, ; and his board weekly . And other men, not having lands and possessions, and yet having goods sufficient to find themselves, for suit of irons, ; and for their week's board .

Item, all other to live of the house, except their majesties appoint the same a better diet by warrant.

The present constable of the Tower is the duke of Wellington.

The constable has under him a lieutenant and deputy-lieutenant, whose offices are of great consequence ; a major, (commonly called governor,) a chaplain, a physician, an apothecary, gentleman porter, gentleman gaoler, a master and quarter gunners, and warders; whose uniform is like the king's yeomen of the guard. Their coats are of a very singular form, being made with large sleeves and flowing skirts; they are of fine scarlet cloth, laced round the edges and seams with several rows of gold lace, and girt round their waists with a broad laced girdle. On their breasts and backs they wear the king's silver badge representing the rose, thistle, and shamrock; as also the letters G. R. in capitals. And, instead of a hat, they wear on their heads round flat-crowned caps, tied with bands of party-coloured ribbands.


[] Maitland, i. 147.

[] Maitland i. p. 148.

[] Maitland i. p. 148.

[] This office is at least as old as the time of Edward III.; for, in the Tower records, mention is made of the custody of the Tower-gate being granted to John de London.--Maitland's London, i, 175.

This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
DCA Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
 Title Page
 CHAPTER I: History of London, from the Accession of William and Mary, to the reign of George the Second
 CHAPTER II: History of London during the reign of George the Second
 CHAPTER III: History of London from the Accession of George the Third, to the year 1780
 CHAPTER IV: History of London continued to the Union
 CHAPTER V: History of London from the Union to the Jubilee, 1809
 CHAPTER VI: History of London from the Jubilee to the Peace of 1814
 CHAPTER VII: History of London continued to the accession of George the Fourth
 CHAPTER VIII: Account of the Civil Government of the City by Portreves, Bailiffs, and Mayors, with a list of the latter...
 CHAPTER IX: An account of the Aldermen and Sheriffs, with a list of the latter
CHAPTER X: Lists and brief Accounts of the various Officers and Courts within the City
CHAPTER XI: Some account of the Ecclesiastical Government of the city of London, with a List and Biographical Notices of the Bishops of the see
CHAPTER XII: Some Account of the Military Government of London, and the Artillery Company
CHAPTER XIII: An Account of the twelve principal Companies of the City of London
CHAPTER XIV: An Account of the Companies of the City of London, alphabetically arranged
 CHAPTER XV: An Account of the River Thames
CHAPTER XVI: Historical and topographical account of London Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Southwark Bridge, and the Thames Tunnel
CHAPTER XVII: Topographical and Historical Account of the Tower of London