17. The Yeomen Warders

One of the highlights of our Tower of London visit was the tour given by a Yeoman Warder, or Beefeater as they’re more commonly known. The tours are included in the price of admission, and after we made a quick visit to the Crown Jewels, we joined a tour in progress. Our friendly guide was a guy named Mitch Jones, and he was informative and entertaining. He lives at the Tower, along with 144 other Yeomen Warders. Several times, he made us repeat that there were twenty towers in the Tower of London, so we were all sure to remember that fact long after our tour was over.

He was very animated as he told of Anne Boleyn’s execution, revealing that she died with her eyes open and as the executioner lifted her head, the onlookers freaked out because she was looking at them. He conveyed this much more artistically than I just did.

He was also very respectful and somber in St. Peter’s chapel, where Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey are buried.¬†As he concluded the tour, he ended on a personal note by proudly mentioning that his daughter was to be married there on the 17th of December, in the presence of the three queens. We all applauded and wished him and his family well. I will be thinking of them and sending good thoughts their way in a month.

16. History

This one is sort of generic, but I was just watching The Tudors this evening and was fascinated by the scenes of Anne Boleyn in the Tower of London. When we were there, we were constantly amazed at the age of the things we were viewing. The majority of the Tudor period was in the 1500s, and some of the buildings in the Tower were almost a thousand years old.

We had the same awestruck feeling when we were in Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. People have been walking through the doors and gates for years, and will continue to do so.

Coming from the States, where our buildings are a couple hundred years old at best, it was mind-boggling to constantly be surrounded by history. I’m grateful for my high school English teachers for providing the background for some of the works we read, because not only did it help me appreciate the literature at that time, but it helped me appreciate my surroundings in my travels over 20 years later.