28 October 2013

Ceremony of the Keys, The Tower of London

Some of the best things in life are free. Additionally (and somewhat surprisingly) some of the best (perma)tourist secrets are free. Take for example: climbing to see Big Ben, fantastic Museums such as the Tate Modern and the V&A, and getting to hold a gold bar at the Bank of England.
I've recently discovered another one - the 700 year old Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. You know I love the Tower because
a) I'm a London geek
b) it's really old and very awesome
c) Priceless Diamonds & Sapphires, Murder, Kings, Queens, 1000 years of history, Ravens, Torture & Beefeaters float my boat.  

Well, how about taking a combination of the Changing of the Guards, the history of the Tower of London and that funny time in the evening where you have eaten but can't think of anything fun to do?
The Ceremony of the Keys is the traditional locking up of the Tower of London and has taken place on each and every night, without fail, for at least 700 years. The importance of securing this fortress for the night is still very relevant because, although the Monarch no longer resides at this royal palace, the Crown Jewels and many other valuables still do.
It's a serious tradition around twilight (we went during Summer) involving entering the grounds of the Tower of London, armed guards, snippets of history, beefeaters, standing in cobbled courtyards, an eery atmosphere and a giant cat-door. Don't be cheeky though, they might lock you in the dungeons with the ghosts.
Tickets are issued free of charge but, due to the popularity of the ceremony, it is necessary to write to the guards with the dates you'd like to go (it needs to be booked fairly in advance), your contact details and a stamped self-addressed envelope. Further details can be found on the Ceremony of the Keys website.
You can't take photos during the Ceremony, but you can take in the beautiful view of the Southbank reflecting in the Thames. If you're really lucky like we were, you might even get to see the raised Tower Bridge which is breathtaking even after living here for so long.
What's your favourite icon (London or internationally)?

14 comments :

  1. I remember my aunt tried to get us tickets to that and even ordered British stamps from America but we were not able to get them for some reason!

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    1. Oh no!! Next time, let me know :-D Us (monopoly playing) bloggers have to stick together!

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  2. See, this is why I keep kiwis around. To tell me things that happen in London I would have had no idea about otherwise. I love the tower of London and we got to go in for a pound because we lived in Tower Hamlets at the time. Otherwise it's one of London's pricier things to do. Also the Tate Modern for being able to look at things quizzically and then look at the people looking at the things admiringly and looking back at the things wondering what they see that you don't. Ah London. I miss it.

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    1. Hehehe, we're a muitl-talented bunch if I do say so myself.
      That's really interesting that you can get into Tower of London for a pound. It is pricey, but for the sheer amount of history (and lets not forget bling) you can see it's pretty awesome. We normally go when there is a two-for-one deal on.
      Time for a re-visit?

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  3. This sounds so neat! How far in advance do you need to get tickets?

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    1. Umm, I think you're looking normally 6 weeks, but they list the dates they can't do on the website & you can give them a list of 3 that you can do. They were really helpful when I needed to change mine because of a charity run I was doing.
      Dress warm if you're doing it!

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  4. I did not know about this, but it sounds really awesome.

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    1. It was really awesome - really atmospheric!

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  5. I've always wanted to do this but I've not gotten around to applying - after seven years, I really need to sort it out for 2014!

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    1. All I can say is book it now - then you'll have no excuses!

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  6. What a cool experience! Although disappointing that they didn't let you take photos. I don't like when that happens.

    I got to walk across the bridge for the first time a week ago! I need to go back again and take some photos. I love how it looks at night in your pictures!

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    1. It is a shame - there is a really cool (and amazingly written) blog post about it by the gentle author - just google it.

      It's pretty cool isn't it! We were so lucky to have such a clear night.

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  7. That sounds so lovely. Of course I had to go read your posts about climbing Big Ben and holding a gold bar.

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    1. It was really great fun, all of it! Thanks for the visit & the comment.

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