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2005 Trip to the UK - Tower of London Pictures
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2005 Trip to the UK - Tower of London Pictures
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THE TOWER OF LONDON

Founded nearly a millennium ago and expanded upon over the centuries since, the Tower of London has protected, housed, imprisoned and been for many the last sight they saw on Earth. It has been the seat of British government and the living quarters of monarchs ... the site of renown political intrigue, and the repository of the Crown Jewels ... It has housed lions, bears, and (to this day) flightless ravens ... not to mention notorious traitors and framed members of court, lords and ministers, clergymen and knights. After his coronation in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066, William ordered the construction of a castle in London for his triumphal entry. Initially the Tower had consisted of a modest enclosure built into the south-east corner of the Roman City walls, but by the late 1070s, with the initial completion of the White Tower, it had become the most fearsome of all. Nothing had been seen like it in England before. It was built by Norman masons and English (Anglo-Saxon) labor drafted in from the countryside.  It was intended to protect the river route from Danish attack, but also and more importantly to dominate the City physically and visually. The White Tower was protected to the east and south by the old Roman City walls (a full height fragment can be seen just by Tower Hill underground station), while the north and west sides were protected by ditches as much as 750m (25ft) wide and 3.40m (lift) deep and an earthwork with a wooden wall on top.  When Richard the Lionhearted (1189-99) came to the throne he departed on a crusade to the Holy Land leaving his Chancellor, William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, in charge of the kingdom. Longchamp soon embarked on an enlargement and strengthening of the Tower of London, the first of a series of building campaigns which by about 1350 had created the basic form of the great fortress that we know today. In 1272 King Edward I (1272-1307) came to the throne determined to complete and extend the defensive works begun by his father. Between 1275 and 1285 the King created England's largest and strongest concentric castle. (a castle with one line of defenses within another). This wall enclosed the existing curtain wall built by Henry III and was pierced by two new entrances. The second half of the 19th century saw a great increase in the number of visitors to the Tower, although sightseers had been admitted as early as 1660 In 1841 the first official guidebook was issued and ten years later a purpose-built ticket office was erected at the western entrance. By the end of Queen Victoria's reign in 1901 half a million people were visiting the Tower each year. The First World War (1914-18) left the Tower largely untouched; the only bomb to fall on the fortress landed in the Moat. Bomb damage to the Tower during the Second World War was much greater: a number of buildings were severely damaged or destroyed including the mid-19th century North Bastion, which received a direct hit on 5 October 1940, and the Hospital Block which was partly destroyed during an air raid in the same year. Incendiaries also destroyed the Main Guard, a late 19th-century building to the south west of the White Tower. Today the Tower of London is one of the world's major tourist attractions and 2.5 million visitors a year come to discover its long and eventful history, its buildings, and ceremonies.

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Marine and Navy Memorial (Pictured right)

The Tower Hill Memorial in London is the only memorial which commemorates merchant seamen exclusively. Those from the other Commonwealth countries are on dual (or mixed) memorials. The Tower Hill Memorial stands on a fine site near the Tower of London and commemorates (civilian) seamen of the Mercantile Marine (as it was known in the 1914-1918 War), and the Merchant Navy (1939-1945 War), and Fishing Fleets who died as a result of the two wars and have no grave but the sea. In one respect, the memorial is similar to the naval memorials at Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth, in that a 1914-1918 War memorial to those lost but who have no grave but the sea has been extended to take the more numerous names of the 1939-1945 War. The memorial was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth 11 on 5th November 1955.

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TOWER BRIDGE (Pictured left)

The Tower Bridge, named after its two impressive towers, is one of London's best known landmarks. This Victorian Bridge is now more than 100 years old. Designed by Wolfe Barry and Horace Jones, and completed in 1894, the middle of the bridge can be raised to permit large vessels to pass the Tower Bridge. It used to be raised about 50 times a day, but nowadays it is only raised 4 to 5 times a week. The bridge is 60 meters (197 ft) long and its towers rise to a height of 43 meters. From the top of the towers, you have a great view on the center of London. You can also visit the inside of the tower, where you can observe the original mechanism used to raise the bridge.

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