An Exploration of its Iconic Structures and Design Elements
As one of the most iconic buildings in the world, ‘The Tower of London’ has symbolised British history & British culture for many centuries, Its looming walls & its imposing structures have been part of a vital role in the shaping of the nation’s past and present. Looking beyond its historical significance the Tower of London is also a unique masterpiece, portraying a diverse blends and wide array of design elements as well as innovative structural techniques ahead of their time. From the White Tower to the solid, yet intricate battlements and fortifications, every aspect of the London Tower’s design shouts out to its enduring legacy as a formidable fortress and not forgetting its role as a royal palace and home to London guards, In this article on the architecture of the Tower of London we take a look at the intricate details of its design as well as examining key structures & design elements that make it a truly grand masterpiece of British architecture.
The History of the Tower of London’s structures and design
Dating back to the eleventh century the Tower of London was born when William The Conqueror first built the core of the building, The White Tower as a symbol of royal power. Since then and over the centuries that followed many changes and additions were put in place and the Tower of London evolved into what it is today. With it’s many buildings and structures, as well as being used for various purposes, IE A Royal Mint, Palace and a prison, not to mention a top tourist attraction for visitors from all around the world, there are many types of architecture to behold, from the original White Tower of Normandy influence to the Gothic style of Saint John’s chapel right through to the Tudor architecture of the inner ward.
Iconic Structures: The White Tower, Tower Bridge, The Bloody Tower
Standing as a testament to the wealth and diverse influence of royalty as well as the architecture of Britain, The Tower of London now consists of several iconic structures. Three of the most distinct we list below.
The White Tower: Centrepiece as well as the oldest and possibly most iconic of the structures featuring Norman style of architectural design. Its construction of square towers, with incredibly small windows are a contrast to the enormous stone walls. Not just a tower but home to a chapel, as well as a grand hall, and armoury to boot. It was built with defence in mind, featuring a surrounding moat and its own drawbridge as well as regularly placed arrow slits to ward off any would-be attackers.
Tower Bridge: Not only famous and iconic, but essential connecting The Tower of London to the rest of the city. This marvel of the Victorian era of design and engineering features two towers, and is adorned with decorative turrets and pinnacles, again, it shows the wealth as well as the engineering ingenuity of the Victorian age.
The Bloody Tower: Heavy with Tudor influenced style of architecture with ornate Tudor roses and crenelations. This tower includes a spiral staircase as well as a royal guardroom and royal chamber.
Design Elements: Battlements, Turrets, and Crenelations
The Tower of London’s design includes some distinctive features that not only make it a masterpiece of architecture but also a fusion of beauty with its diversity. Three distinctive features include.
Battlements: These are the raised walls along the top of the Tower’s walls. The battlements served a defensive purpose, allowing soldiers to reign down arrows as well as stones at any enemies attacking The Tower.
Turrets: These are small towers projecting out from the walls and were multipurposed, providing vantage points for keeping a lookout, as well as the suspension of chains and ropes to allow access to the walls.
Crenelations: These are characterised by the raised and lowered sections running atop of the walls. These served as a point of defence, not only providing cover to soldiers but also allowing them to attack oncoming armies with their archers and guards.
The Tower of London’s role in shaping British architecture and culture
Playing a vital role in shaping and influencing The UK’s architecture, the Tower has been a model and foundation of other structures throughout the country, it’s design has influenced the builds of other iconic buildings such as the Tower Bridge, The Palace of Westminster and many other designs that can be found through Britain’s towns and cities.
A Peak Inside The Tower of London
The interior design not only as awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping as its exterior, displaying a unique blend of different architectural styles and influences from throughout the centuries. Featured in the White Tower is a grand hall, a chapel and even an armoury which all reflect on the different uses of the structure over the ages. The Chapel of St. John is a credit to Gothic-style architecture including features such as superbly detailed stain-glassed windows, stone carvings and ornate decorative pieces, and has served as a place of worship for inhabitants of the Tower. (whether there by choice or against their will!)
Another interior design highlight is The Queen’s House, steeped in Tudor-style architecture with such features as Tudor roses and crenelations, having spent part of its life as a royal palace as well as an abode for the monarch’s consort. Another reflection on the way royalty (as well as architecture) has changed through the ages.
Preservation of The Tower of London’s Architecture
The preservation of this iconic British landmark is of top priority and as it is a symbol of all that is British and of enduring significance and reflection of UK culture, there is an extensive conservation program in place to ensure that it will remain standing (and intact) for centuries to come. Included in its preservation is of course the structural repairs but also other elements such as maintaining the interior décor to the standard it was when first built as well as ensuring the overall beauty and design elements are protected so that future generations can appreciate its unique blend of design and architecture that is truly inspiring to those that witness it. Part of the program is also to bring it inline with modern day environmental issues by reducing its overall carbon footprint and promoting eco-friendly practices. Yet, another influence to be put on The Tower throughout its life.
The Tower of London as a tourist destination – how its architecture draws visitors
As a tourist attraction, the Tower of London is one of the most popular UK attractions is and each year is host to millions of visitors from all over the world, as well as an attraction for fellow countrymen. Its very unique blended architectural style and design as well as its rich history and culture is not only fascinating but awe-inspiring and there are guided tours that provide visitors with the opportunity to discover more about this historic landmark, its history as well as the nuances and culture that over the centuries has made it what it is today. The tours include exploration of The White Tour, Tower Bridge, and the grounds within.
The Enduring Significance of The Tower
This architectural legacy makes it one of the most outstanding structures standing today, as well as an iconic representation of Britain, it boasts of the most magnificent designs that span centuries as well as a symbol of endurance and significance to the UK. Its influence on British architecture can be seen everywhere from Land’s End to John O’Groats and should be on every architect’s bucket list if they haven’t already been.