When William the Conqueror built a mightly stone tower at the centre of his London fortress in the 1070s, defeated Londoners must have looked on in awe. Now nearly 1000 years later, the Tower still has the capacity to fascinate and horrify. As protector of the Crown Jewels, home of the Yeomen Warders and its legendary guardians, the pampered ravens, the Tower now attracts over three million visitors a year. Here, the Ceremony of the Keys and other traditions live on, as do the ghost stories and terrible tales of torture and execution. But the tower also has a richer and more complex history, having been home to a wide array of institutions including the Royal Mint, the Royal Armouries and even a zoo
The Tower has been a visitor attractions since the 18th century, but numbers of tourists increased dramatically in the 1800s. Visitors were fascinated by the stories of Englands turbulent and sometimes gruesome history. Stories of ghosts haunt the Tower. Anne Boleyn is said to stalk the site of her execution on the Tower Green. Arbella Stuart, the cousin of Elizabeth I who starved while under arrest for marrying without royal permission, is said to frequent the Queens House still. Two smaller ghosts are thought to be the 'Princes in the Tower', and the Yeomen Warders even tell a chilling tale of a huge bear who occasionally appears to frighten visitors to death.