During my trip to London, I was fortunate to be able to visit the Tower while the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation of ceramic poppies was on display. Each of the 888,246 poppies that fills the moat represented a British military fatality during the WWI.
The view of the poppies pouring out of one of the Tower windows and filling the moat with bright red is inspiring, whether you know the meaning or not. It’s an installation to make passersby stop and take pause, and it’s no wonder that every walkway surrounding the Tower was thick with people doing just that.
The moat has since been emptied of the poppies and I am grateful for the lucky timing that allowed me to witness this spectacular remembrance of fallen soldiers.
Inside the Tower
While many people are drawn to the opulence of the Crown Jewels — which are indeed full of sparkle and shine — I sought out the torture exhibit, drawn more to the dark history I’ve long associated with the Tower. The torture exhibit was smaller than I thought, situated down a flight of stairs in the Wakefield Tower. It features replicas and descriptions for the Rack, the Manacles, and the Scavenger’s Daughter. The scavenger’s daughter is essentially the opposite of the rack, compressing the person into a contorted position instead of stretching them.
The audio guide also lead me through a history of the executions held at the Tower and on Tower Hill, as well as the Bloody Tower in which two young princes were kept and eventually killed.
Despite my association of the Tower of London with dark historical events, I was surprised to learn that there is much more to it than that. In addition to housing the crown jewels, the Tower has been the comfortable refuge of kings and houses the yeoman warders, who not only act as guardians and keepers of the Tower, but live on site with their families.
London Bridge Experience
In line with my interest of the dark and ominous of history, my trip to London also included the London Bridge Experience, which presents a historical look at events of war, fire, and murder on and around the London Bridge. These stories are presented in underground catacomb rooms with actors playing characters who might have lived in the time period.
The bit of history is followed by a haunted house experience with zombies, ghosts, and other creatures of the night that provided plenty of good jump scares. It was good fun, though I would recommend including the attraction as part of the included price of the London Pass, rather than paying for an extra, separate ticket.