With its origins going back a thousand years, it isn’t surprising that there are so many myths and legends surrounding the Tower of London. We decided to take a break from facts, and investigate some of the spookier tales that have developed about the Tower over the centuries.
Probably the best known legend is that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, London will fall. This legend has gained such momentum that the Tower employs a Ravenmaster whose job it is to look after them and ensure there are a minimum of six resident ravens at any given time.
It is popularly thought that the ravens have their wings clipped so they cannot fly away – this is only partially true. The Ravenmaster will trim their feathers so they can’t go far, but they are still able to fly. As compensation, they are fed (170g of raw meat a day, plus bird biscuits soaked in blood – yummy!) and have somewhere comfortable to call home. As long as they behave themselves, they’re all set, though it’s not necessarily a job for life – apparently one raven had to be sacked in the past for eating TV aerials…
The Koh-i-Noor curse
The Tower of London is well known for being the home of the Crown Jewels. One of the most famous gems in the collection is the opal cut diamond, the Koh-i-Noor which is one of the largest diamonds in the world, weighing in at a massive 105 carats. (As an indication of how big that is, most of us couldn’t even afford a diamond that’s only 1 carat!)
However, owning the Koh-i-Noor is not necessarily a good thing because it is said to be cursed. A Hindu text from the 14th century declared that: “He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity”, Indeed, it has a bloody history, and kings and emperors who owned the gem often came to a very sticky end. The diamond came into Queen Victoria’s possession in 1849 and is now only worn by female members of the royal family. Just in case.
Another great legend is that when Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of England in 1653, the Tower’s Lieutenant hid 20,000 gold coins in the grounds which, despite many people’s best efforts, have never been found. But please feel free to look out for them when you’re there!
Things that go bump in the night
It’s inevitable that a spooky old building with a bloody history will abound with ghostly sightings. And if you like ghost stories, you won’t be disappointed by the Tower of London! The Bloody Tower is so called because it’s the place where the two ‘princes in the tower’ were reportedly murdered by their uncle, Richard III, in 1483.
12-year-old Edward V and his younger brother, Richard, were staying in the then Garden Tower but went missing one night leading to rumours of their deaths at the hands of Richard III. Since then, there have been reported sightings of two terrified children dressed in white nightgowns, but when people have stepped towards them, they back slowly into the wall and disappear.
Other sightings of famous spooks include Anne Boleyn who was beheaded in the Tower in 1536 – some see her as part of a procession, others as a headless figure. Anne’s headless ghost was immortalised in the song, With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm.
One unknown spirit who haunts the White Tower has been dubbed the White Lady. She has been seen waving to children, and people have reported smelling her cheap perfume.
If you are planning a trip to the Tower of London to try and find the buried treasure or see some ghosts, combine your visit with a Circular Cruise journey and save money – it’s no myth! By buying your entrance tickets through us, you will save 8% on admission, but will also benefit from a massive 50% off your cruise tickets! Click here to book now.