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White Tower, Tower Of London
The Tower of London, UK
White Tower, Tower Of London
associated engineer
Not known
date  1097
UK era  Medieval  |  category  Building  |  reference  TQ335806
Begun in around 1078 by William The Conqueror, the White Tower is the central structure in the group of defensively-enclosed buildings that are known as the Tower of London.
The Tower of London was constructed in stone from about 1077 onwards. It is defended by the Thames to the south and the remains of the old Roman walls to the east. On the north and west sides, a moat was dug, the earth from which was used to construct a mound on which the White Tower stands.
The White Tower was designed to intimidate and used as a stronghold and palace. William had had trouble defeating London and had resorted to terrorising the countryside until London's leaders gave in. He built the tower using specially imported limestone from Caen in France a further message to the subjugated locals. However, the wall infill is Kentish ragstone.
The white limestone facing gave the tower its name. The plan is square and the walls 3.7m thick at the base. It has four turrets, one at each corner. Three of them are square and one is circular. In later years, the circular turret housed the Royal Observatory
It has lately been discovered that the walls were built higher than required for the internal spaces, that is, higher than the original roof. Inside, the palace was much more comfortably and richly fitted out than the forbidding exterior implied.
The White Tower has witnessed many historic events in its life and been altered, particularly inside, many times. Towers, walls and gateways have been added, and Henry III, Edward I and Henry VIII all made additions. It has seen service as a prison and torture chamber but these days it houses a display of weaponry.
"Landmarks of Britain" by Clive Aslet
Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2005

White Tower, Tower Of London