Alone in the Tower

Julie Ballantyne Brown
4 min readMay 20, 2023

A rare and lovely five minutes

The Tower of London, Author’s photo

The Tower of London has always drawn me in. I don’t remember when I first read about it, but I’ve been lowkey obsessed for as long as I can remember, an unexplainable connection. Residual generational memories, perhaps? A few years back, I discovered that not only do I have ancestral connections to early English royalty, nothing past the 1200s, but also had an ancestor grandfather who had been imprisoned there in the late 1400s at the pleasure of Edward IV. Whatever the case, it fascinates me to no end.

Built as a fortress and a royal palace, the Tower has been a place of death, joy, and an integral part of London history for almost 1,000 years. Its history contains too many stories to tell in several sittings, let alone a single one. Learn a bit more about it here: https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/history-and-stories/the-medieval-palace/#gs.y9a9wr

I was fortunate to actually visit it for the first time in 2012 and found it everything I had hoped for. I had one of the most intense spiritual experiences of my life during that visit at St. Peter ad Vincula, the chapel on the grounds. While there, we took the requisite (and excellent) Beefeater tour and I longed to spend a chunk of time there to explore on my own. Last summer, I got my wish.

I was able to spend almost an entire afternoon wandering the Tower on my own. I wanted to absorb as much as I could, all of the memories and motions that it held in those stone walls. I wasn’t disappointed.

After going with my husband to see the Crown Jewels (meh, not really our thing but we did it), he went back to the hotel and I happily explored on my own schedule, visiting as much as possible in the few hours before it closed. I wandered without any real agenda and explored as many nooks and crannies as I could. It was one of the happiest (and hottest!) afternoons I can remember. Seriously, the temperature was in the mid to high 30s there every day last July, even hitting 40 before we left. (40 degrees Celsius = 104 degrees Fahrenheit) Still, the thick walls provided a cool-ish shelter from the heat.

I paid homage to places and people. St. Pete ad Vincula, visiting Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen. The Bloody Tower. The Thomas Tower. Traitors’ Gate on the…

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Julie Ballantyne Brown

Future London resident. Follow Julie on Twitter: @BrownBallantyne or on FB and Instagram: @JulieBallantyneBrown