Friday, 17 June 2016

The Ceremony of the Keys

Each night 40-50 people are let in to the Tower of London (for the grand total of £1 per booking) to watch as the Yeoman and beefeaters secure the Tower for the night, a series of steps call the Ceremony of the Keys and Geoff and I booked 10 months in advance to attend (yes, really, and that was for a Thursday night).

After a security and a bag check, Yeoman Watts (who later told me that he had only joined the ranks of Yeoman in the last few months) told us some stories about people have met their fate within the walls of the tower (generally in a gruesome manner) and then explained the ceremony.   After checking for the umpteenth time that our phones were switched off (imagine the embarrassment if your phone rang during the silence), the ceremony that has endured for the last 700 years began. 

There are 2 sets of wooden doors that are locked before the Chief Yeoman was visible to us, in a knee length red coat, tudor bonnet and carrying a lamp.  He approached a handful of armed guards, and answered the necessary questions before being allowed to pass.  He proceeded through a gate and was met by more armed guards, and after he waved his bonnet and announced that the Queen was safe, the last post was played by a sole bugle player before the Yeoman took the keys through to safety. 

It was a fantastic experience (that you are not allowed to photograph), and I would recommend booking in if you have enough notice of a trip to London!

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