Башня Лондона (Tower of London)
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Set admit the mighty battlements of this ancient historic fortress, it is one of the oldest and most colourful surviving ceremonies of it's kind, having been enacted every night without fail for approximately seven hundred years, in much the same form as we know it today.
The exact origin of the Ceremony is somewhat obscure, though it probably dates from the time of the White Tower - the great Norman fortress commenced by William the Conqueror and completed in about 1080 AD - become regularly used as a Royal stronghold in the capital city.
As the fortifications around the Tower were increased from time to
time so it became used not only as Royal residence, but also as the Mint
and State Prison. The Country's gold was stored at the Tower, as were the
Royal Records and Royal Regalia, and numerous historical figures were imprisoned within it's walls for political reasons, many of whom were never to emerge to freedom, dying either from natural causes or by execution on
Tower Green or Tower Hill.
The surrounding populaces were not always in sympathy with activities
inside the Tower, and as enemies of the King might attempt to rescue
prisoners or to steal the Crown Jewels, the need for security was very
great. Thus it was in olden times that every night at dusk the Gentlemen
Porter - now known as the Chief Yeoman Warder - would collect an armed escort, and would Lock and secure all the gates and doors leading into the
Tower, thereby making it proof against hostile attack or intrigue, This done, the Keys would be handed over to the Tower Governor for safe keeping during the night.
In 1826, the Duke of Wellington (then Constable of the Tower) ordered that the time of the Ceremony be fixed at ten o'clock each night, so as to ensure that his soldiers were all inside the Tower before the gates were locked.
Accordingly, every night at exactly 7 minutes to ten, the Chief Warder emerges from the Byward Tower, carrying the traditional lantern - still lighted with a piece of candle - and in the other the Queen's Keys. He proceeds at a dignified pace to the Bloody Tower, where an escort consisting of two sentries, - a Sergeant and a representative Drummer are marched to the outer gate. En route, all guards and sentries present arms as the Queen's Keys pass.
As the Chief Warder shuts and locks the great oak doors of first the
Middle Tower and then the Byward Tower, the escort halt and present arms.
They now return along Water Lane towards the Wakefield Tower, where in the deep shadows of the Bloody Tower Archway a sentry waits and watches.
As the Chief Warder and escort approach, the sentry's challenge rings out.
"Halt!" the escort is halted.
"Who comes there?"
"The Keys" replies the Chief Warder.
"Queen Elizabeth's Keys" is the answer.
"Pass Queen Elizabeth's Keys - All's well".
Whereupon the Chief Warder and escort proceed through the archway towards the steps by the 13th century wall, where the Guard for the night is drawn up under an officer with drawn sword, The Chief Warder and escort halt at the foot of the steps. The Officer gives the command, Guard and Escort - present arms. The Chief Warder takes two paces forward, raises his Tudor bonnet high in the air and calls out God preserve Queen Elizabeth. The
Whole Guard reply Amen, and as the parade ground clock chimes ten, the
Drummer (bugler) sounds the Last Post.
The Chief Warder takes the Keys to the house of the Resident Governor, and the Guard is dismissed.
The Ceremony of the Lilies and Roses
The Wakefield Tower, built originally for defensive purposes swiftly
became the Presence Chamber of Plantagenet kings. It is with an indication
of this ancient role that you see it today. In a recess is the Oratory with
an altar chest, bearing the likeness of King Henry VI and the Arms of Eton
College and King's College, Cambridge. In front is an appraisal of the King by his confessor, John Blacman.
In 1471 King Henry VI, founder of those Colleges was held a prisoner
in this tower. He was murdered at these prayers in the Oratory between
eleven and twelve o'clock on the night of the 21st May. His body rests in
St George's Chapel at Windsor, in which Castle he was born on the 6th of
The King's birthday has long been celebrated by both his Colleges as
Founders Day and since 1905 two Kin's Scholars of Eton have laid a sheaf of its white lilies on his tomb on that day.
Through the friendly interest of Sir George Younghusband, then Keeper
of the Jewel House, King George V was graciously pleased to approve the
setting of a marble tablet in the Oratory at the spot where by tradition
King Henry VI met his death. Eton lilies have since been laid there in the evening of each anniversary. By the Sovereign's sanction and with approval of the Constable of the Tower, the arrangements for this annual ceremony were delegated to the incumbent Keeper of the Jewel House; and it was not neglected even during the Second World War, when HM Tower of London was restricted area and the Wakefield Tower itself was hit by a German bomb.
In 1947, the Provost and Scholars at King's College, Cambridge, secured the permission of the King and the Constable to associate King
Henry's sister foundation with the ceremony. The white roses of Kings, in their purple ribbon, have since been laid alongside the Eton lilies, in their pale blue, on the Founder's stone.
The Ceremony of the Lilies and Roses. Though still a very simple one, has over the years acquired a certain form and formality. The Provost of
Eton or his deputy, the Provost of King's or his deputy, and the Chaplain of the Tower are conducted by the Resident Governor and Keeper of the Jewel
House, with an escort of Yeoman Warders, from Queen's House to the
Wakefield Tower. The Chaplain conducts the short service and the lilies and roses are ceremoniously laid: to lie until dusk on the next day as token that King Henry's memory is ever green in the two Colleges which are perhaps his most enduring monument.
There are many stories of ghosts, poltergeists and other malevolent
spirits connected to the Tower of London. Who hasn't heard the one about
the headless apparition of Anne Boleyn stalking the Tower grounds at night.
Who for instance, hasn't heard stories of the chained and headless Sir
Walter Raliegh being seen on the ramparts close to where he was kept prisoner. The Tower of London with its 900 years of history has earned itself a multitude of spine tingling stories, mainly due to its infamous reputation as a place of execution. The following stories are different in the fact that as far as we know, they have never been told before, at least not beyond the boundaries of the Tower of London.
The Ghost of Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn, the most celebrated of the wives of Henry VIII was
beheaded on Tower Green in 1536. Her ghost has frequently been seen both on
the Green and more spectacularly in the Chapel Royal situated in the White
Tower. It was in the Chapel that a Captain of the Guard saw a light burning in the locked Chapel late at night. Finding a ladder, he was able to look down on the strange scene being enacted within. A nineteenth century account described it thus:
Slowly down the aisle moved a stately procession of Knights and
Ladies, attired in ancient costumes; and in front walked an elegant female whose face was averted from him, but whose figure greatly resembled the one he had seen in reputed portraits of Anne Boleyn. After having repeatedly paced the chapel, the entire procession together with the light disappeared. (excerpt from Ghostly Visitors by "Spectre Stricken", London
Another account of this same story tells of how the procession always
occurs on the anniversary of the terrible execution of Margaret Pole the
Countess of Salisbury, in 1541. This brave old lady (she was over seventy when she was killed) suffered because of her son's (Cardinal Pole) vilification of the King Henry VIII's religious doctrines, something the
Cardinal did from the safety of France. So when Henry realised that the
Cardinal was out of his reach his mother was brought to the block instead as an act of vengeance. Instead of submitting weekly to the axeman however she refused to lie down and was pursued by the axeman around the scaffold.
Swinging wildly he inflicted the most hideous wounds on her till at last she died.
Another sighting of Anne Boleyn is alledged in 1864 by a sentry standing guard at the Queen's house. The guard saw and challenged a white shape that appeared suddenly veiled in mist. When the challenge went unanswered the sentry put his bayonet into the figure but he was overcome with shock when it went straight through the figure without meeting any resistance. This story was corroborated by two onlookers who saw the whole event from a window of the Bloody Tower. It is not known what made the sentry and the onlookers believe that this was the ghost of Anne Boleyn but we can only accept that after 100 years of tradition it must be so.
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