London (England) - Tower of London and points of interest

Tower of London, historic fortress of the city of London, on the north bank of the Thames River, built on the remains of Roman fortifications. The tower complex, which contains 7.5 hectares (18 acres), stands on a slight rise known as Tower Hill. The original tower, known as the White Tower or Keep, is flanked by four turrets and enclosed by two lines of fortifications. It was built about 1078 by Gundulf, bishop of Rochester. Although its exterior was restored in the 18th century, the interior still has much of its original Norman character. Later buildings surrounding the original keep include a barracks and a chapel built in the 14th century and restored in the 16th century.

The inner fortifications (Ballium Wall) have 12 towers; the most important are the following: Bloody Tower, so called from the tradition that the English child king Edward V and his brother Richard Plantagenet, duke of York, were murdered there in 1483; Record or Wakefield Tower, where the records were formerly kept and the royal regalia (symbols and emblems, such as crowns and scepters) are now guarded; Devereux Tower, named for its most famous prisoner, Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, who was held there before his execution for treason in 1601, and where, in 1478, George Plantagenet, duke of Clarence, supposedly was drowned in a barrel of wine; and Jewel Tower, which formerly housed the regalia.

The tower was used as a royal residence as well as for a prison until Elizabethan times. Use of the tower as a prison was discontinued in the 19th century. Executions were held either in the central keep or outside the tower on Tower Hill. It is now largely a showplace and museum. It holds the crown jewels of England and is one of the country's greatest tourist attractions. A popular feature is the Yeomen of the Guard, known as Beefeaters, who still wear colorful uniforms of the Tudor period.

London (England)

capital city of Great Britain, located in southeastern England. London is situated at the head of the Thames River estuary, west of the river's mouth on the North Sea. One of the world's most important financial and cultural centers, London is noted for its museums, performing arts, exchange and commodity markets, and insurance and banking functions, as well as a host of specialized services. In popular and traditional usage, the term City of London, or the City, is applied only to a small area (2.59 sq km/1 sq mi) that was the original settlement (ancient Londinium) and is now part of the business and financial district of the metropolis. The City of London and 32 surrounding boroughs form the Greater London metropolitan area, which covers 1579 sq km (610 sq mi). The 13 inner boroughs are Camden, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, and the City of Westminster. The 19 outer boroughs are Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Sutton, and Waltham Forest.


About 78 percent of London's residents are white and almost 10 percent are black. Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis are among the other major ethnic groups. Since the 1950s the population of London has declined, as many residents have moved to suburban areas on the outskirts of London. Thus, the population of Greater London, at 8,346,137 in the 1951 census, fell to 6,696,008 by . During the 1980s and 1990s, however, urban renewal projects, such as the redevelopment of the Docklands, have encouraged residents to remain in the city. By 1991, the population had risen slightly to about 9,803,100.

Economy of London

London's economy is distinguished by a multiplicity of activities that reflect the structure of the British economy as a whole. Service industries account for about 60 percent of total employment; they include banking, insurance, civil service, transportation, education, food and drink, printing and publishing, retailing, and numerous professional and custom services. Tourism also plays a vital part in London's service industries. Next in importance are manufacturing and engineering and the latter's allied industries; combined, these sectors account for approximately 10 percent of total employment. The production of precision instruments, computers, aircraft, automobiles, chemicals, and clothing, as well as the refining of petroleum, are all important. Greater London possesses the country's greatest concentration of professional, technical, and administrative occupations, as well as the highest average income in Britain.
The central area of London is dominated by service employment and characterized by the localized concentration of various activities: banking and finance in the City, insurance and law in Holborn, government in Westminster, newspaper publishing in Fleet Street, medicine in Harley Street, tailoring in Savile Row, retail outlets in Bond and Oxford streets, and education in Bloomsbury. Industrial activity is important in the so-called Victorian Manufacturing Belt-a crescent-shaped band on the southern bank of the Thames River, extending northwest from the City and Southwark. Here, small-scale specialized production dominates.
The extensive Port of London, the major docks of which are located just downstream from London Bridge, provides access to raw materials and markets. London is one of Europe's largest seaports and handles virtually every type of commodity and cargo. Newer manufacturing areas, such as Park Royal, are located to the west of Central London. More sophisticated and specialized industries, such as those manufacturing aircraft, computers, and electronic equipment, are located toward the periphery of Greater London and in the surrounding outer metropolitan area. Farther to the west of London, economic development has been stimulated by the presence of Heathrow International Airport, and to the south, by Gatwick International Airport. Stansted Airport, located in the northeast, opened in 1991; it serves mostly European destinations, but accommodates some flights to the United States and Canada.


The London Government Act (1963) authorized the creation of a two-tiered government consisting of 32 borough councils and the Greater London Council. The borough councils are locally elected and are responsible for local functions. Until its abolition in 1986, the Greater London Council administered broad functions for the metropolitan area as a whole, such as overall planning, the coordination of transportation systems, and the management of parks. The council comprised 100 councilors, locally elected, and 15 aldermen, elected by the councilors.
The historic Corporation of the City of London is equivalent in function to a borough council. Since the reign of King John in the 13th century, citizens of the City of London have had the right to elect their own mayor. The corporation government is composed of the lord mayor, who is elected annually by members of the livery companies (guilds); 25 aldermen, who are elected for life; and 153 council members, who are elected annually from 25 wards.

The Urban Landscape

The physical layout of contemporary London is the product of complex historical events and growth forces. The fort of Londinium, founded by the Romans in the mid-lst century AD, and the administrative center established at Westminster 1000 years later, served as the nuclei for subsequent development in central London.
The city of London has been largely rebuilt since World War II (1939-l945), when it suffered severe damage from German bombing. The rebuilding has reinforced London's importance as a financial and commercial center. The City is linked by Fleet Street and High Holborn to Westminster, and London Bridge provides access to South London on the southern side of the Thames River. To the north and east, beyond the perimeter of the former Roman and medieval walls of the City, is the East End. Noted for its warehousing, wholesale-clothing activities, and the production of furniture and precision instruments, this area was more severely damaged by bombing than any other part of London and has been the scene of considerable reconstruction. Traditionally, the East End, encompassing such neighborhoods as Whitechapel, Limehouse, and Bethnal Green, was occupied by various ethnic minorities and the poor.


Near the East End and just east of Tower Bridge is the Docklands, a large area that was a thriving commercial district during the 18th and 19th centuries. Ships carrying raw goods from the colonies and manufactured products to England's trading partners passed through the district's many basins, locks and canals. As the area decreased in importance, the Docklands fell into disrepair. Since the 1980s, however, the Docklands has been undergoing extensive redevelopment. Warehouses are being converted to restaurants, exhibition centers, museums, hotels, and residential space. London City Airport is here, and the area is serviced by Docklands Light Railway, a rapid-transit system providing a direct link to central London.
On the west side of the City is the legal quarter. This area is one of the important outgrowths of the medieval city along Fleet Street. In the 14th century the Temple, which had been founded by the Knights Templars, became occupied by lawyers; subsequently, Temple Inn and numerous other Inns of Court, such as Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn, arose in the vicinity. In the 19th century the Royal Courts of Justice were constructed just off the Strand. To the north is Bloomsbury, which is the center for the University of London and the British Museum and is also known for its association with such literary figures as Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence.
Farther west along the Strand is the historic political center of Westminster, where the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey are located. A central feature is the Mall, a processional road that links Trafalgar Square with Buckingham Palace. Also notable here is Covent Garden, designed by the English architect Inigo Jones in the early 17th century. It was London's first formal square surrounded by town houses, although it eventually became an important fruit, flower, and vegetable market, a function it lost in . The city developed many similar squares, around which large houses were built for the wealthy. Covent Garden served as a model for Bedford, Belgrave, Berkeley, Grovesnor, Russell, and a host of other squares in the now fashionable neighboring districts of Soho, Mayfair, Belgravia, Bloomsbury, and Marylebone. These squares in turn influenced the location of major northern-southern thoroughfares in the West End, such as Bond, Baker, and Regent streets. Today these streets have become the leading shopping areas of the West End, with Piccadilly Circus and Soho serving the gastronomic and entertainment needs of the people. Many of the grand houses have since been converted into commercial property.
Toward the middle of the 19th century, urban development had spread north of Oxford Street to reach Marylebone, Euston, Pentonville, and City roads. Along this route the major railroad companies located the stations of Paddington, Marylebone, Euston, Saint Pancras, King's Cross, and Liverpool, which today serve western, northern, and eastern England. Access to southern England is provided by Victoria, Charing Cross, Waterloo, and London Bridge stations.
London is noted for its abundance of park spaces. The most notable are the Royal Parks, which were formerly royal estates. These include Saint James's Park and, to the west, Green Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens. To the north is Regent's Park, and farther upstream along the Thames are Richmond Park, Hampton Court Park, Kew Gardens (also known as the Royal Botanic Gardens), and Bushey Park. Surrounding the Royal Naval College and the old Royal Observatory is Greenwich Park. Other important open spaces include Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields, which overlooks London from the north.
London is also known for its outdoor street markets where vendors sell everything from expensive antiques to bargain jewelry and secondhand clothing. The Camden Lock Market, one of the largest, is located on the north side of the city. The East End has the Petticoat Lane Market, its name being derived not from the street location but from the days when the wares were mostly clothing. On the west side of the city, the Portobello Market offers fruits and vegetables during the week and antiques and a variety of basic goods on the weekends.

Points of Interest

Despite both the extensive rebuilding in the inner city and the widespread destruction caused by German bombing raids during World War II, London remains a city rich in structures with historic associations.

Saint Paul's Cathedral, London's most imposing church, is a large baroque edifice, distinguished by a huge central dome. The cathedral was designed by the English architect Sir Christopher Wren and built between 1675 and . Both Saint Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, another famous church, serve as the burial place of many illustrious British figures. Westminster Abbey, a splendid example of English Gothic architecture (largely 13th and 14th century) has long been the site of coronations and royal weddings. Other well-known churches are the Gothic Southwark Cathedral; Saint Bartholomew-the-Great, built shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1066; the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral; Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, famous for the Orchestra of the Academy of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields; All Souls'; Saint Bride's; Saint Clement Dane's; Saint Margaret's, the parish church of Parliament; and Saint Mary-le-Bow.
Civic Buildings

The great complex of buildings known as the Houses of Parliament, still officially called the New Palace of Westminster, serves as the seat for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Built in a neo-Gothic style between 1840 and 1850, it is distinguished by the clock tower that contains the famous bell Big Ben. Mansion House has been the official residence of the lord mayor since . Guildhall, an early 15th-century Gothic hall, is used for the lord mayor's banquet and civil functions. Westminster Hall, an assembly hall adjoining the Houses of Parliament, was constructed in the 11th century and redesigned in the 14th century with a magnificent hammer-beam roof.
The most venerable building in the city is the Tower of London, an excellent example of Norman military architecture. Beginning as a center of defense for William the Conqueror, the Tower has served as a royal residence, state prison, execution ground, and place for royal pageants; the Tower is also the home of the crown jewels. In 1994 the Jewel House, an expanded and remodeled area housing the crown jewels, was opened.

Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of the monarch since 1837, when Queen Victoria moved her court from Saint James's Palace, which is located on the Mall. Three other important palaces are Kensington Palace; Lambeth Palace, the London seat of the archbishop of Canterbury; and Hampton Court, the Tudor palace originally begun by Thomas Cardinal Wolsey in the early 1500s.

Educational and Cultural Institutions

Museums and Art Galleries
Preeminent among London's museums is the British Museum, which possesses one of the finest libraries in the world as well as an outstanding collection of artworks, antiquities, and objects of natural history. The Museum of London has exhibits dealing with the development and life of London from Roman times to the present. The Victoria and Albert Museum specializes in fine and applied art.
The most famous national collections of art include the National Gallery, facing Trafalgar Square, and, next door, the National Portrait Gallery. Contrasting with the essentially classical collections of these two galleries are the romantic, impressionist, and modern art collections of the Tate Gallery. Smaller galleries include the Courtauld Institute Galleries, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Hayward Art Gallery, and the Queen's Gallery.
Performing Arts
Among the many centers of professional theater in London are the National Theatre, home of the National Theatre Company; the Aldwych Theatre, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company in London until 1982, when it moved to the new Barbican Arts Centre; the Drury Lane Theatre; and the Royal Court Theatre. The city has five major symphony orchestras and a number of string and chamber orchestras, many of which are located in the South Bank area of the city. The principal concert halls are the Royal Festival Hall and, in the same complex, the smaller Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room; the huge, elliptical Royal Albert Hall; and Wigmore Hall. Opera and ballet are enjoyed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Sadler's Wells, and the London Coliseum.
Higher education in London is dominated by the University of London and its numerous affiliates. Other institutions include the Royal College of Art (1837), the Royal Academy of Music (1822), and the Royal Naval College, Greenwich (.


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