Transformation of the Tower

Previous page: The Original Tower

King Richard spent the then enormous sum of 2,881 on the Tower in one year of his reign, and as no architectural remains survive of this age, it seems likely much of the money was spent in the construction of a great ditch which surrounded the landward side of the fortress.

Other evidence shows that at that period the defences were first carried eastwards of the Roman city wall. A beginning was thus made in the transformation of the Tower of London from a castle of the Norman type, with a keep and one or more baileys, into the concentric type which the military engineers of the thirteenth century came increasingly to demand.

If the design of the new castle and the tracing of its earthworks was due to Richard I, much of its execution was the work of his nephew, Henry III.

The palace quarters of this age were situated in the inner court, between the White Tower and the river front. Against the south wall of this enclosure was the Great Hall, perhaps in Norman and Angevin times a timber structure, but reconstructed in stone by Henry III about 1236; a view of this Hall is served in the well known illumination upon a Royal manuscript now in the British Museum that represents the Duke of Orleans in captivity in the Tower, but it has now been entirely removed.

A few years earlier the same King had built the new tower adjoining the Hall - the Wakefield Tower - which housed the Crown Jewels for hundreds of years, until relatively recently in 1967 when Jewel House was built in the west wing of the Waterloo Barracks.

Many of the other towers in the inner circuit, such as the Bell, Devereux, Bowyer, Martin, and Broad Arrow Towers, retain work of the same age; the Bell Tower, with its vaulted basement and twin windows, may even go back to the days of King John. King Henry furthermore, in 1241, whitewashed the White Tower from top to bottom, together with the "old wall" which surrounded it.

Next page: Edward I's Mark