Old and New London: Volume 2. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
THE TOWER (continued).
The Jewels of the Tower—The Imperial State Crown—St. Edward's Crown—Prince of Wales's Crown—Ancient Queen's Crown—The Queen's Diadem or Circlet of Gold—The Orb—St. Edward's Staff—The King's Sceptres—The Queen's Sceptre—The Queen's Ivory Rod—The Ampulla—The Curtana, or Sword of Mercy—Bracelets—The Royal Spurs—The Saltcellar of State—Blood's Desperate Attempt to Steal the Regalia—The Tower Armouries—Absurd Errors in their Arrangement—Chain Mail—German Fluted Armour—Henry VIII.'s Suit of Armour—Horse Armour—Tilting Suit of the Earl of Leicester—A Series of Strange Blunders—Curiosities of the Armoury—Naval Relics—Antiquities.
The present Jewel House at the Tower is the old Record Tower, formerly called the Hall Tower. The regalia were originally kept in a small building at the south side of the White Tower, but in the reign of Charles I. they were transferred to a strong chamber in the Martin Tower, afterwards called the Jewel Tower, which being damaged in the great fire of 1841, the warders removed the regalia to the governor's house. The new Jewel House was erected the same year, and is more commodious than the old room.
Here you see the types of power and sovereignty. The collection is surmounted by the imperial State crown of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. This crown, says Professor Tennant, "was made by Messrs. Rundell and Bridge, in the year 1838, with jewels taken from old crowns, and others furnished by command of Her Majesty. It consists of diamonds, pearls, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, set in silver and gold; it has a crimson velvet cap with ermine border, and is lined with white silk. Its gross weight is 39 oz. 5 dwt. troy. The lower part of the band, above the ermine border, consists of a row of 129 pearls, and the upper part of the band a row of 112 pearls, between which, in front of the crown, is a large sapphire (partly drilled), purchased for the crown by His Majesty George IV. At the back is a sapphire of smaller size, and six other sapphires (three on each side), between which are eight emeralds.
"Above and below the seven sapphires are fourteen diamonds, and around the eight emeralds 128 diamonds. Between the emeralds and sapphires are sixteen trefoil ornaments, containing 160 diamonds. Above the band are eight sapphires, surmounted by eight diamonds, between which are eight festoons, consisting of 148 diamonds.
"In the front of the crown, and in the centre of a diamond Maltese cross, is the famous ruby, said to have been given to Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Edward III., called the Black Prince, by Don Pedro, King of Castile, after the battle of Najera, near Vittoria, A.D. 1367. This ruby was worn in the helmet of Henry V. at the battle of Agincourt, A.D. 1415. It is pierced quite through, after the Eastern custom, the upper part of the piercing being filled up by a small ruby. Around this ruby, to form the cross, are seventy-five brilliant diamonds. Three other Maltese crosses, forming the two sides and back of the crown, have emerald centres, and contain respectively 132, 124, and 130 brilliant diamonds.
"Between the four Maltese crosses are four ornaments in the form of the French fleur-de-lis, with four rubies in the centres, and surrounded by rose diamonds, containing respectively eighty-five, eighty-six, eighty-six, and eighty-seven rose diamonds.
"From the Maltese crosses issue four imperial arches, composed of oak-leaves and acorns; the leaves containing 728 rose, table, and brilliant diamonds; thirty-two pearls forming the acorns, set in cups containing fifty-four rose diamonds and one table diamond. The total number of diamonds in the arches and acorns is 108 brilliant, 116 table, and 559 rose diamonds.
"From the upper part of the arches are suspended four large pendant pear-shaped pearls, with rose diamond caps, containing twelve rose diamonds, and stems containing twenty-four very small rose diamonds. Above the arch stands the mound, containing in the lower hemisphere 304 brilliants, and in the upper 244 brilliants; the zone and arc being composed of thirty-three rose diamonds. The cross on the summit has a rosecut sapphire in the centre, surrounded by four large brilliants, and 108 smaller brilliants."
The next crown to be mentioned is known as St. Edward's. (fn. 1) It is the imperial crown with which the kings of England have been crowned. It was made for the coronation of Charles II., to replace the one broken up and sold during the civil wars. It is embellished with pearls, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, with a mound of gold on the top, enriched with a band or fillet of gold, garnished also with precious stones, and three very large oval pearls, one at the top, and the others pendant to the ends of the cross. This crown is formed of four crosses, and as many fleursde-lis of gold, rising from a rim or circlet, also of gold, and set with precious stones; and the cap within is made of purple velvet, lined with taffeta, and turned up with ermine.
The Prince of Wales's Crown. This is formed of pure gold, and is unadorned by jewels. On occasions of State it is placed before the seat in the House of Lords which is occupied by the heir apparent.
The Ancient Queen's Crown, being that used at coronations for the queen consort, is a very rich crown of gold, set with diamonds of great value, intermixed with other precious stones and pearls; the cap being similar to the preceding.
The Queen's Diadem or Circlet of Gold. This was worn by Queen Mary, consort of James II., in proceeding to her coronation. It is a rim or circle of gold, richly adorned with large diamonds, curiously set, and around the upper edge a string of pearls; the cap is of purple velvet, lined with white taffeta, and turned up with ermine, richly powdered. It cost, according to Sandford, £111,000.
The Orb, which rests in the sovereign's right hand at his coronation, and is borne in his left on his return to Westminster Hall, is a ball of gold six inches in diameter, encompassed with a band or fillet of gold, embellished with roses of diamonds encircling other precious stones, and edged with pearls. On the top is an extraordinary fine amethyst, of an oval shape, nearly an inch and a half in height, which forms the foot or pedestal of a cross of gold three inches and a quarter high, set very thick with diamonds, and adorned with a sapphire, an emerald, and several large pearls.
St. Edward's Staff, which is carried before the sovereign at the coronation, is a staff or sceptre of beaten gold, four feet seven inches and a half in length and about three quarters of an inch in diameter, with a pike or foot of steel four inches and a quarter long, and a mound and cross at the top.
The King's Sceptre with the Cross, or Sceptre Royal, likewise of gold, is two feet nine inches in length, and of the same size as that with the dove; the handle is plain, but the upper part is wreathed, and the pommel at the bottom set with rubies, emeralds, and small diamonds. On the top is a mound, and on the mound is a cross adorned with precious stones. This sceptre is placed in the right hand of the sovereign at the coronation by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The King's Sceptre with the Dove is gold, in length three feet seven inches, and about three inches in circumference. It is set with diamonds and other precious stones, and upon the mound at the top, which is enriched with a band or fillet of rose diamonds, is a small cross, whereon is fixed a dove with wings expanded, as the emblem of mercy.
The Queen's Sceptre with the Cross is also of gold, adorned with diamonds and other precious stones, and in most parts is very like the king's, but not wreathed, nor quite so large.
The Queen's Ivory Rod, which was made for Queen Mary, consort of James II., is a sceptre of white ivory three feet one inch and a half in length, with a pommel, mound, and cross of gold, and a dove on the top.
Besides these there is another very rich and elegant sceptre with a dove, which was discovered in 1814 behind a part of the old wainscot of the Jewel House, where it seems to have lain unobserved for a great number of years. This nearly assimilates to the king's sceptre with the dove, and there is every probability that it was made for Queen Mary, consort of William III., with whom she was jointly invested with the exercise of the royal authority.
The Ampulla, or Eagle of Gold, which contains the holy oil at the ceremony of the coronation, is in the form of an eagle, with wings expanded, standing on a pedestal, all of pure gold finely chased. The head screws off about the middle of the neck, for the convenience of putting in the oil, which is poured out through the beak into a spoon called the anointing-spoon, which is likewise of pure gold, with four pearls in the broadest part of the handle. These are considered to be of great antiquity.
Curtana, or the Sword of Mercy, which is borne naked before the king, between the two swords of justice, at the coronation, is of plain steel, gilded. The blade is thirty-two inches in length, and nearly two in breadth; the handle is covered with fine gold wire, and the point flat. The Swords of Justice are the spiritual and temporal, which are borne, the former on the right hand and the latter on the left, before the king or queen at their coronation. The point of the spiritual sword is somewhat obtuse, but that of the temporal sword is sharp. Their blades are about forty inches long, the handles cased with fine gold wire, and the scabbards of all three are alike, covered with a rich brocaded cloth of tissue, with a fine ferule, hook, and chape.
Armillæ, or Bracelets, which are ornaments for the king's wrist, worn at coronations, are of solid fine gold, an inch and a half in breadth, and edged with rows of pearl. They open by means of a hinge, for the purpose of being put on the arm, and are chased with the rose, thistle, fleur-de-lis, and harp.
The Royal Spurs are also made of fine gold, curiously wrought, and are carried in the procession at coronations by the Lords Grey of Ruthyn, a service which they claim by descent from the family of Hastings, Earls of Hastings.
The Saltcellar of State, which is said to be a model in gold of the White Tower, a grand silver font, double gilt, generally used at the baptisms of the royal family, and a large silver fountain, presented to Charles II. by the town of Plymouth, are likewise worthy of notice; and there is also deposited in the Jewel House a magnificent service of communion-plate belonging to the Tower Chapel; it is of silver, double gilt, superbly wrought, the principal piece containing a beautiful representation of the Lord's Supper.
The summary of jewels comprised in the crown is as follows:—1 large ruby, irregularly polished; 1 large broad-spread sapphire; 16 sapphires; 11 emeralds; 4 rubies; 1,363 brilliant diamonds; 1,273 rose diamonds; 147 table diamonds; 4 drop-shaped pearls; and 273 pearls.
A curious fact in connection with the regalia is related by Haydon the painter. The crown, he says, at George IV.'s coronation, "was not bought, but borrowed. Rundell's price was £70,000; and Lord Liverpool told the king he could not sanction such an expenditure. Rundell charged £7,000 for the loan, and as some time elapsed before it was decided whether the crown should be bought or not, Rundell charged £3,000 or £4,000 more for the interval."
The crown jewels have been exhibited for a fee since the restoration of King Charles II. They had been before that period kept sometimes in the Tower, in the treasury of the Temple or other religious house, and in the treasury at Westminster. The royal jewels have on several occasions been pledged to provide for the exigencies of our monarchs, by Henry III., Edward III., Henry V., Henry VI.; and Richard II. offered them to the merchants of London as a guarantee for a loan. The office of Keeper of the Regalia, conferred by the king's letters patent, became, in the reign of the Tudors, a post of great emolument and dignity, and "The Master of the Jewel-House" took rank as the first knight bachelor of England; the office was some time held by Cromwell, afterwards Earl of Essex. During the civil war under Charles I. the regalia were sold and destroyed. On the restoration of Charles II. new regalia were made, for which the king's goldsmith, Sir Robert Vyner, was paid £21,978 9s. 11d.
At the great fire of 1841 the grating was broken open and the jewels removed for safety. Mr. G. Cruikshank made a clever drawing of this scene.
The history of the regalia would be incomplete without some short mention of Blood's desperate and impudent attempt to steal the crown, globe, and sceptre, in the reign of Charles II. This villain, Blood, had been a lieutenant in Cromwell's army, and had turned Government spy. He had joined in a plan to seize Dublin Castle and kill the Lord Lieutenant. He had actually stopped the Duke of Ormond's coach in Piccadilly, carried off the duke, and tried to hang him at Tyburn, a plan which had all but succeeded; and the Duke of Buckingham was suspected by the Ormond family of having encouraged the attempt. In the attempt on the regalia Blood had four accomplices. Blood, disguised as a country parson, in band and gown, began the campaign by going to see the crown with a woman who passed for his wife. This woman, while seeing the jewels, pretended to be taken ill, and was shown into the private rooms of Talbot Edwards, the old Deputy Keeper of the Crown Jewels, a man eighty years of age. Blood then observed the loneliness of the Tower, and the scanty means of defence. He called four days later with a present of gloves for Mrs. Edwards, and repeated his visits, till he at last proposed that his nephew, a young man, as he said, with £200 or £300 a year, should marry the old man's daughter. He finally fixed a day when the young bridegroom should present himself for approval. On the appointed day he arrived at the outside of the Iron Gate with four companions, all being on horseback. The plan for action was fully matured. Hunt, Blood's son-in-law, was to hold the horses, and keep them ready at St. Catherine's Gate. Parrot, an old Roundhead trooper and now a Government spy, was to steal the globe while Blood carried off the crown, and a third accomplice was to file the sceptre into pieces and slip them into a bag. A fourth rogue represented the lover. The five men were each armed with sword-canes, sharp poignards, and a brace of pistols. While pretending to wait for the arrival of his wife, Blood asked Edwards to show his friends the jewels. The moment the door was locked inside, according to Tower custom, the ruffians muffled and gagged the old man, and then felled him to the ground and beat him till he was nearly dead. Unluckily for the rascals, young Edwards at that moment returned from Flanders, and ran upstairs to see where his mother and sisters were. Blood and Parrot made off at once with the globe and crown. The sceptre they could not break. The old man freeing him self from the gag, screamed and roused the family. Blood wounded a sentinel and fired at another, but was eventually overpowered. The crown fell in the dirt, a pearl was picked up by a sweeper, a diamond by an apprentice, and several stones were lost. Parrot was captured and the globe found in his pocket; one fine ruby had broken loose. Hunt was thrown from his horse and taken. But none of these culprits were punished. Blood betrayed pretended plots, or in some way obtained power over the king. He was received at court, and £500 a year was given him.
From the Jewel House we pass to the Armouries. The Armouries in the Tower were established by our earliest kings. We find Henry III. issuing a mandate to the Archdeacon of Durham to transmit to the arsenal twenty-six suits of armour, five iron cuirasses, one iron collar, three pairs of fetters, and nine iron helmets. In 1339 (Edward III.) John de Flete, keeper of the arms in the Tower, was commanded to bring as many "espringals, quarrells, hauberks, lances, arbalasts, bows and arrows," as were necessary for the defence of the Castle of Southampton. Two years afterwards the Sheriff of Gloucester was ordered to purchase and transmit to the Tower 1,000 bows, and 300 sheaves of arrows; 250 of the bows to be painted, the rest to be white or plain.
A curious inventory of Tower armour in the reign of Edward VI. enumerates:—"Brigandines complete, having sleeves covered with crimson; ditto, with sleeves covered with cloth of gold; ditto, with sleeves covered with blue satin; millars' coats covered with fustian and white cloth; and brigandines covered with linen cloth with long taces." The inventory also enumerates targets covered with steel, and having pistols in the centre; a target with twenty pistols; a target "of the shell of Tortys;" steel horse-trappings; poleaxes with pistols at the end; gilt poleaxes, the staves covered with crimson velvet and fringed with silk of gold; holy water sprinklers, or Danish clubs, with spiked balls fastened to a chain. Some of these arms still remain in the Tower, especially a "holy water sprinkler with 3 guns," which the warders used to call "King Harry the Eighth's Walking-Staff."
In the reign of Elizabeth the Tower armouries were described by Hentzner, a German traveller, in 1598, and our readers will see, by the following extract, that many of the chief curiosities now shown were even then on view:—
"We were," says Hentzner, "next led to the Armoury, in which were these peculiarities. Spears out of which you may shoot; shields that will give fire four times; a great many rich halberds, commonly called partisans, with which the guard defend the royal person in battle; some lances covered with red and green velvet; and the suit of armour of Henry VIII.; many and very beautiful arms, as well for men as for horse-fights; the lance of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, three spans thick; two pieces of cannon, the one fires three, the other seven balls at a time; two others, made of wood, which the English had at the siege of Boulogne, in France, and by this stratagem, without which they could not have succeeded, they struck a terror as at the appearance of artillery, and the town was surrendered upon articles; nineteen cannons of a thicker make than ordinary, and, in a room apart, thirty-six of a smaller; other cannons for chain-shot and balls, proper to bring down masts of ships; cross-bows, bows and arrows, of which to this day the English make great use in their exercises. But who can relate all that is to be seen here? Eight or nine men, employed by the year, are scarce sufficient to keep all the arms bright."
Hewitt, in his account of the Tower, argues very shrewdly, from Hentzner's silence about the spoils of the Armada still exhibited, and, in fact, about the "Spanish Armoury" altogether, that those pretended trophies were never trophies at all. The Spanish "coller of torment" is an undoubted relic of the Armada; the rest, Mr. Hewitt decides, were taken from a collection of Spanish arms, chosen for their excellent quality, and of a far earlier date than 1588. Hentzner visited England soon after the Armada. As a German he would be interested in all relics of the defeated Spanish invasion. He visited the Spanish Armoury, and had he been shown there any relics of Philip's armament, would be sure to have mentioned it.
The first mention of a Spanish weapon-house is in a survey of 1675, which enumerates targets with pistols, Spanish pikes, partisans, Spanish boar-spears, Spanish poleaxes, and Spanish halberts. Some later exhibitors, says Mr. Hewitt, finding a room called the Spanish Weapon-house, immediately set it down, with true showman's instinct, as a room of Armada spoils, and so the error has been perpetuated.
During the Commonwealth the Tower collection of armour lay in abeyance, but at the Restoration, William Legg, Master of the Armouries, made a survey of the stores, and in it enumerates Brandon's huge lance, the Spanish collar of torture, and the ancient head-piece with rams'-horns and spectacles still named after William Somers, the Jester of Henry VIII. Some of the suits are noted as having come from the Green Gallery, at Greenwich. These last included both suits of Prince Henry and suits of Henry V., Henry VIII., Edward III., Edward IV., Henry VI., the Earl of Leicester, and Charles Brandon. There is also mentioned a gilt and graven suit for "his late majesty, of ever blessed memory, Charles I.;" a suit of Charles II., when a boy; and a suit sent to Charles II. by the Great Mogul.
On the Restoration, says Meyrick, the armour which had been formerly in the Green Gallery at Greenwich, placed on horseback and dignified with the name of some of our kings, gave the hint for an exhibition at the Tower of the same sort. The Tudors and Stuarts were added; and in 1686, the year after the death of Charles II., his figure and that of his father were added, their horses and faces carved by Grinling Gibbons.
Towards the close of the seventeenth century armour fell into disuse, and was sent by various regiments to the Tower stores. A survey in 1697 enumerates thousands of back and breast pieces, pots, and head-pieces. The equestrian figures, when fitted out from these and from various gifts, increased from ten to twenty-seven.
Among the confused suits Meyrick found both William the Conqueror and William III. clad in plate armour of the age of Edward VI. The suit of Henry V. was composed from parts of three others, of which the upper portion was of the time of Charles I., while the legs—which were not fellows!—were of the age of Henry VII. Henry VIII. also had the misfortune to have odd legs. George I. and George II. were armed cap-a-pie in suits of Henry VIII.'s time, and mounted on Turkish saddles, gilt and ornamented with the globe, crescent, and star. John of Gaunt was a knight of Henry VIII.'s reign, and De Courcy a demi-lancer of Edward VI.'s. The helmet of Queen Elizabeth was of the period of Edward VI.; the armour for her arms, of that of Charles I.; her breastplate went as far back as Henry VIII.; and the garde de reins of that monarch covered Her Majesty's "abdomen." A big suit of Henry VIII., rough from the hammer, had first been described by the warders as "made for the king at the age of eighteen," and then "as much too small for him."
The absurd inventions of the Tower warders were endless. A "Guide to the Tower of London and its Curiosities" (says Mr. Planché), published in the reign of George III., mentions a breastplate desperately damaged by shot, which was shown as having been worn by a man, part of whose body, including some of the intestines, was carried away by a cannon-ball, notwithstanding which, being put under the care of a skilful surgeon, the man recovered, and lived for ten years afterwards. "This story," adds the Guide, "the old warder constantly told to all strangers, till H.R.H. Prince Frederick, father of the present king, being told the accustomed tale, said, with a smile, 'And what, friend, is there so extraordinary in all this? I remember myself to have read in a book of a soldier who had his head cleft in two so dextrously by the stroke of a scimitar, that one half of it fell on one shoulder, and the other half of it on the other shoulder; and yet, on his comrade's clapping the two sides nicely together again, and binding them close with his handkerchief, the man did well, drank his pot of ale at night, and scarcely recollected that he had ever been hurt." The writer goes on to say that the old warder was "so dashed," that he never had the courage to tell his story again; but, though he might not, it was handed down by his successors, by several of whom, Mr. Planché says, he heard it repeated in his boyhood, fifty years after the death of Frederick Prince of Wales. The old battered breastplate is still in the collection, and has not been "sold as old iron," being thoroughly unworthy of preservation.
In the year 1825 Dr. (afterwards Sir) Samuel Rush Meyrick received the royal commands to re-arrange the Horse and Spanish Armouries, a task for which that antiquary's taste and knowledge eminently qualified him. This task he executed, but, unfortunately, was compelled by ignorant officials to appropriate every suit (right or wrong) to some great personage of the period, distinguishing the few that could actually be identified by stars on the flags above them. The storekeeper then resumed his care, and everything went wrong: forgeries were bought and carefully preserved under glass, and valuable pieces of armour, which had been actually stolen or sold from the armoury, were often offered for sale to the authorities and rejected by them. In 1859, Mr. Planché, an eminent authority on armour, drew the attention of the Right Hon. Sidney Herbert to the confusion of the whole collection, and to the fact that the armoury produced an annual revenue of £2,000 and odd, being, therefore, self-supporting. The same publicspirited gentleman also pointed out that the Horse Armoury admitted the rain, and had an inflammable wooden shed at one end. In 1869, to the great satisfaction of all true antiquaries, Mr. Planché was commissioned to arrange the armour in the Tower in strict chronological order. In his "Recollections and Reflections," he suggests that a fine gallery could be made out of the row of carpenters' shops on the east side of the White Tower.
The negligence of the Government led, Mr. Planché says, in his own time, to many blunders. One of the bargains missed by the Keeper of the Armouries was the complete suit in which Sir Philip Sidney was killed at the battle of Zutphen, the embossed figures on which were of solid gold. This national and magnificent relic was at Strawberry Hill, and is now at St. Petersburg. Another relic lost to the Tower was a heaume of the time of King John, now at Warwick Castle. A third was the gauntlets of a fine suit made for Henry VIII., now in the Tower, imperfect from their absence. They had found their way out of the Tower, and, on being brought back to it, were ignored and refused by the authorities, and are now at Grimston. A fourth was a most singular quaint helmet, probably as early as the time of Stephen, if not actually the helmet of that monarch, or of his son, now in the Musée d'Artillerie at Paris. Two other helmets, one temp. Henry III., the other of the fifteenth century, with part of the crest remaining, were also rejected. At the very same time a helmet newly made at Vienna, for theatrical purposes, was purchased at the price of £50, and is now in one of the glass cases at the Tower. The only armour at Alton Towers that could possibly have belonged to the great Talbot was suffered by some gentleman sent down by the Tower to pass into the hands of dealers. The back-plate, a most elegant specimen, sold for £10, and is now in the collection of Lord Londesborough, at Grimston.
The present Horse Armoury, at the south-west corner of the White Tower, was completed in 1826, when Meyrick re-arranged the collection. This is a single apartment, about 150 feet long by 34 wide. A row of pillars supporting pointed arches runs the whole length of the interior. The space in front of the columns is occupied by figures, some equestrian and some on foot, clothed in armour from the reign of Henry VI. to that of James II. Several military trophies and emblems adorn the walls and ceilings of the apartment, and the space devoted to the armed figures is divided into several compartments by stands containing weapons of the various periods.
The visitor can pass here from the simple mail of early days to the engraved and ornamented armour of Elizabeth's reign.
The Crusaders of Henry III.'s reign brought chain-mail from the East. Mixed plate and chain suits were introduced in the reign of Edward II. In the reign of Richard II. the visors were peaked, and projected from the face like birds' beaks. With Henry IV. armour became all plate, and the steel monster was now fully hatched. With Henry V. came two-handed swords, to hew to pieces the said armour. In Edward IV.'s days came all sorts of novelties in armour—tuilles to cover the hips, pauldrons for the shoulders, grandegardes, or extra half-breastplates, to cover the left breast. In the time of Richard III., say most authorities, armour attained its highest perfection of form and arrangement. The shoes have long, pointed toes. The Richard III. suit at the Tower was brought from Spain, and was worn by the Marquis of Waterford at the fantastic Eglinton Tournament.
In the reign of Henry VII. came in the beautiful German fluted armour. The helmets worn were the round Burgundian, and the shoes were round and large at the toes. The horse-armour, too is splendid.
The Henry VIII. suit, the first suit in the collection, really belonged to the king whose effigy it covers. The armour is damasked, and the stirrups are curious, from their great size. But one of the finest suits in the world, and belonging to this same burly king, is in the central recess of the south wall "This," says Hewitt, " is one of the most curious suits of armour in the world, having been made to commemorate the union of Henry VIII. and Katherine of Arragon. The badges of this king and queen, the rose and pomegranate, are engraved on various parts of the armour. On the fans of the genouilleres is the sheaf of arrows, the device adopted by Ferdinand, the father of Katherine, on his conquest of Granada. Henry's badges, the portcullis, the fleur-de-lis, and the red dragon, also appear; and on the edge of the lamboys, or skirts, are the initials of the royal pair, 'H. K.,' united by a true lovers' knot. The same letters, similarly united by a knot, which includes also a curious love-badge, formed of a half rose and half pomegranate, are engraved on the croupiere of the horse.
"But the most remarkable part of the embellishment of this suit consists in the saintly legends which are engraved upon it. These consist of ten subjects, full of curious costume, and indicating curious manners.
"On the breastplate is the figure of St. George on foot, encountering the dragon. On the backplate appears St. Barbara, with her usual emblems. On the front of the poitrail St. George, on horseback, is dispatching the dragon; the armour of his horse is embellished with the rose and pomegranate. Also, on the poitrail, St. George accused before Diocletian; and another subject, representing some lady of rank, attended by her maids, directing the fortifications of a town or fortress. On the croupière, St. George, stretched on the rack; a saint receiving martyrdom, by being enclosed as high as the waist in the brazen figure of an ox, beneath which a fire is blazing, to boil the oil within; a female saint suffering decapitation; while in the background is predicted the retribution that awaits the persecutor; another saint about to suffer decapitation; St. Agatha led to be scourged; and St. Agatha being built up in prison.
"Round the lower edge of the horse-armour, many times repeated, is the motto, 'Dieu et mon Droit,' while numerous other decorations—human figures, heraldic badges, arabesque work, and grotesque devices of fabulous and other animals—are continued over the whole suit, both of man and horse. Among these engravings is one of a female figure, bearing on the front of her bodice the German word 'Glück' (good luck, health, prosperity). From this, it has been suggested by Sir S. Meyrick, we may infer that the suit before us was presented by the Emperor Maximilian to Henry, in honour of his marriage with Katherine of Arragon. We own this inference seems rather a bold one.
"The armour is doubtless of German manufacture, and one of the finest of the period. It was formerly gilt, and when new must have had a most gorgeous appearance. From its discoloration, by time, the elaborate decorations of its surface are almost entirely lost, but might easily be restored by a judicious renewal of the gilding."
"We find another splendid suit of armour, of the reign of Edward VI. It is of the kind called russet, which was produced by oxidising the metal, and then smoothing its surface. By this means the gold-work with which it was afterwards damasquined looked much richer than if inlaid on a ground of polished steel (or white armour, as it was technically called). The suit before us is covered with the most beautiful filagree-work. The helmet especially is most elaborately ornamented; embossed lions' heads adorn the pauldrons, elbowpieces, gauntlets, breastplate, genouillères, and sollerets; and the whole is in the finest preservation. The helmet, which is a burgonet, is also embellished with a lion's head. In the right hand is a mace, terminating in a spear. This figure was formerly exhibited as Edward the Black Prince.
"The horse-armour, which is a complete suit, is embossed and embellished with the combined badges of Burgundy and Granada. The probabilities are that it belonged to Philip of Flanders, surnamed 'the Fair.' He was the son of the Emperor Maximilian, by Mary, daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold, last Sovereign-Duke of Burgundy, and consequently, in right of his mother, Duke of Burgundy and Count of Flanders. He married Joanna, second daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, and sister of Katherine of Arragon, queen of Henry VIII.
"The badge of the pomegranate was borne by all the children of Isabella and Ferdinand the conqueror of Granada. Philip and Joanna, on the death of Isabella, in 1504, became sovereigns of Castile and Arragon, and in 1506, on a voyage to Spain, were obliged by a violent tempest to take shelter in England, where they were detained upwards of three months in a sort of honourable captivity by Henry VII. The armour might have been left behind, in England, on the departure of the royal travellers, or presented by Philip to Henry."
The tilting-suit of the Earl of Leicester is still shown. "That the armour before us was worn by Leicester," says Mr. Hewitt, "there is not the slightest doubt. His initials, 'R. D.,' are engraved on the genouillères. His cognizance of the bear and ragged staff appears on the chanfron of the horse, encircled by the collar of the Garter; and the ragged staff is repeated on every part of the suit. The suit was originally gilt, and 'was kept,' says Sir S. Meyrick, 'in the tilt-yard, where it was exhibited on particular days.' It afterwards figured in the old horse armoury as that of King James I."
The suit of Sir Henry Lea, champion of Queen Elizabeth, was formerly exhibited as that of William the Conqueror. The fine engraved and gilt suit of the Earl of Essex (1581) was worn by the king's champion at the coronation of George II. The figure of James I. was formerly shown as Henry IV. The suit of Charles I. was given him by the Armourers' Company. It is richly gilt and arabesqued. The suit is specially interesting as being the identical one laid on the coffin of the Duke of Marlborough at his public funeral. The head of the effigy of James II. is one carved by Grinling Gibbons as a portrait of Charles II.
The suit long called John of Gaunt's turned out to
be an engraved suit for a man-at-arms of the reign
of Henry VIII., and the Norman Crusader to have
come from the Mogul country. There is a fine
suit of Italian armour here, date 1620, once worn
by Count Oddi, of Padua. It is ornamented with
the imperial eagle, the badge of his house. The
devices, formed of swords, pistols, and bayonets,
are very ingenious. The large pavois shield (temp.
James I.) should be noticed. The russet and gold
armour is Venetian, of the sixteenth century; and
the six pieces of a puffed and engraved suit of the
time of Henry VIII. are extremely curious and rare.
The ancient German saddle of bone inlaid with
figures is of uncertain date. The inscription is—
"I hope the best to you may happen;
May God help you well in Saint George's name."
The fantastic helmet with horns, made for mock tournaments, is said to have belonged to Henry VIII.'s jester. The crossbows are of all ages. Firearms can here be traced, from the earliest hand-gun of 1430. One flint-lock rifle, of Austrian make (1750), could be fired eighteen times in a minute. Here we see the steel mace combined with the pistol (temp. Edward VI.). The padded Chinese armour, too, is curious; and there is a curious suit of the Great Mogul, sent to Charles II., made partly of plates and partly of small iron tubes bound in rows. The Elizabethan Armoury contains a goodly store of glaives, black-bills, Lochaber axes, and boar-spears. The great curiosity here is the block on which Lords Balmerino, Kilmarnock, and Lovat laid down their heads; the old headingaxe (said to have taken off the head of Essex); the iron torture-cravat, called in the Tower, "Skeffington's Daughter," from the name of the inventor; the bilboes; the thumbscrews; the Spanish collar of torture, from the Armada; two yew-bows, from the wreck of the Mary Rose, sunk off Spithead in the reign of Henry VIII.; and a breech-loading matchlock petronel, that belonged to Henry VIII. The relics of Tippoo Sahib have also a special interest.
The grand storehouse for the royal train of artillery, and the small-arms armoury for 150,000 stand of arms, destroyed by fire October 30, 1841, was built in the reign of James II. or William III., since which the Tower has been remodelled, many small dwelling-houses cleared away, and several towers and defences rebuilt. The houses of Petty Wales and the outworks have been removed, as well as the menagerie buildings near the west entrance. In the great fire of 1841 only 4,000 stand of arms were saved out of about 100,000, and the loss was computed at about £250,000. But for the height of the tide and the fulness of the ditch, the whole Tower would have been destroyed. In 1830 the store of arms in the Tower had amounted to 600,000. Among the curiosities destroyed was one of the state swords carried before the Pretender when he was proclaimed in Scotland, in 1715, and a curious wooden gun.
The Train Room contained some interesting
naval relics; among others, the steering-wheel of
Lord Nelson's Victory, trophies of William III.
and General Wolfe, and relics of Waterloo. The
earliest guns were of the reigns of Henry VI.
and Edward IV.—hooped guns, with movable
chambers. There was also a great treasure which
fortunately escaped the fire—a large iron chambergun, recovered from the wreck of the Mary Rose
(Henry VIII.). The Great Harry, which is of
brass, weighs five tons (temp. Henry VIII.). It
has the date 1542, and the English rose engraved
upon it is surmounted by the crown of France.
There were guns, too, from Ramillies, and relics of
the Royal George. One old brass German gun,
date 1581, had the spirited motto—
"I sing and spring,
My foe transfixing."
One of the finest guns preserved was a brass gun taken from the French. It had formerly belonged to the Knights of Malta. The date is 1773. It is covered with exquisite figures in alto-relievo. In one part is a medallion portrait of the artist, Philip Lattarellus, and in another the portrait of the Grand Master of Malta, supported by two genii. The carriage also is very curious; its trails are formed of the intertwined figures of two furies holding torches, and grasping a huge snake. The centre of the wheel represents the sun, the spokes forming its rays. There was also saved a small brass gun, presented to the Duke of Gloucester, the son of Queen Anne.
In other parts of the Armoury are ancient British flint axes, Saxon weapons, a suit of Greek armour, found in a tomb at Cumæ kettle-drums from Blenheim; the cloak in which General Wolfe died; the sword-sash of that eminent but unappreciated hero, the Duke of York; Saracenic, Indian, Moorish, New Zealand, and Kaffrarian arms, and even a door-mat suit from the South Seas. In 1854, 2,000 stand of Russian arms, taken at Bomarsund, the first trophies of a useless and unlucky war, were placed in the Tower. Those two rude wooden figures on the staircase, called "Beer and Gin," formerly stood over the buttery of the old palace at Greenwich. There are also ten small brass cannon to be seen, presented by the brass-founders of London to Charles II. when a boy. Hatton, in 1708, mentions among the curiosities of the Tower the sword which Lord Kingsale took from an officer of the French body-guard, for which deed he and his posterity have the right of remaining covered in the king's presence.
From the above account it will be seen that the Tower contains as many interesting historical relics as any museum in England. Here the intelligent visitor can trace the progress of weapons from the rude flint axe of the early Briton to the latest rifle that science has invented. Here he can see all the changes of armour, from the rude suits worn at Hastings to the time when the Italians turned the coat of steel into a work of the finest art, and lavished upon it years of anxious and refined labour. There are breastplates in the Tower on which Montfort's spear has splintered, and cuirasses on which English swords struck fire at Waterloo. There are trophies of all our wars, from Cressy and Poictiers to Blenheim and Inkermann, spoils of the Armada, relics of the early Crusade wars, muskets that were discharged at Minden, swords of Marlborough's troopers, shields carried at Agincourt, suits of steel that Elizabeth's champions wore at Cadiz, flags that have been scorched by Napoleon's powder, blades that have shared in struggles with Dane and Indian, Spaniard and Russian. Thanks to Mr. Planche, the Tower Armoury can now be studied in sequence, and with intellectual advantage. The blunders of former days have been rectified, and order once more prevails, where formerly all was confusion and jumble. Thanks to the imperishability of steel, the old warcostumes of England remain for us to study, and with the smallest imagination one can see Harry of Monmouth, in the very arms he wore, ride forth against the French spears, all blazoned with heraldic splendour, and, shouting "God and St. George for merry England," scatter the French, as he did when he won his crowning victory.
THE TOWER (continued).
The Tower of London Officials—Locking-up the Tower—The Tower Menagerie—The Moat—The Church of St. Peter ad Vincula—Early Sufferers for State Errors—Gerald Fitzgerald—Fisher—Lord Seymour of Dudley—The Protector Somerset—The Earl of Essex—Sir Thomas Overbury—Anne Boleyn—The Monuments in St. Peter ad Vincula—A Blood-stained Spot—Historical Treasure Trove—The Waterloo Barracks—The Royal Mint—Nooks and Corners of the Tower—Its Terrible Cells—The Tower Ghost.
The Constable of the Tower was anciently called "the Constable of London," "the Constable of the Sea," and "the Constable of the Honour of the Tower." William I. chose as the first Constable of his new fortress Geoffrey de Mandeville, who had fought well at Hastings. The Constable temp. Edward II. received a dole of twopence from each person going and returning by the Thames on a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella. In the reign of Richard II. he received £100 a year, with fees from prisoners for the "suite of his irons"—for a duke, £20; for an earl, twenty marks; for a baron, £10; for a knight, 100 shillings. Later, he had wine-tolls, which were taken from passing ships by his officers. Taylor the Waterpoet farmed this office, and naively confesses that he could make no profit of it till he cheated. The Constable's salary is at present about £1,000 a year. The Duke of Wellington was Constable from 1820 till his death, in 1852, and he was succeeded by that brave old veteran, Viscount Combermere. The Lieutenant of the Tower ranks next to the Constable, but the duties of his office are performed by the Deputy-Lieutenant and the Tower Major. The warders' old dress was obtained for them by the Duke of Somerset, after his release from prison in the reign of Edward VI.
There are two officers, says Bayley, who are now joined in the command and custody of the Tower, with the denomination of Deputy-Lieutenant and Major, both of whom are appointed by commission from the Crown, though the patronage is virtually in the Constable, who exercises the power of recommending. These officers, however, are of very modern date, having both sprung up in the course of the last century. The earliest mention we find of a Deputy-Lieutenant is in the time of Queen Anne, and that of a Major not till many years afterwards. The civil establishment of the Tower also consists of a chaplain, whose appointment is in the king exclusively; the chief porter, now called the gentleman-porter, who has his office by letters patent, at the recommendation of the Constable; a physician and a surgeon, who are appointed by his Majesty's Commission, at the recommendation of the Constable; an apothecary, who holds his place by warrant from the Constable; the gentleman-gaoler, the yeoman-porter, and forty yeoman-warders, all of whom also have their places by warrant of the Constable.
Locking-up the Tower is an ancient, curious, and stately ceremony. A few minutes before the clock strikes the hour of eleven—on Tuesdays and Fridays, twelve—the head warder (yeoman-porter), clothed in a long red cloak, bearing a huge bunch of keys, and attended by a brother warder carrying a lantern, appears in front of the main guardhouse, and loudly calls out, "Escort keys!" The sergeant of the guard, with five or six men, then turns out and follows him to the "Spur," or outer gate, each sentry challenging as they pass his post, "Who goes there?" "Keys." The gates being carefully locked and barred, the procession returns, the sentries exacting the same explanation, and receiving the same answer as before. Arrived once more in front of the main guardhouse, the sentry there gives a loud stamp with his foot, and asks, "Who goes there?" "Keys." "Whose keys?" "Queen Victoria's keys." "Advance, Queen Victoria's keys, and all's well." The yeomanporter then exclaims, "God bless Queen Victoria!" The main guard respond, "Amen!" The officer on duty gives the word, "Present arms!" The firelocks rattle, the officer kisses the hilt of his sword, the escort fall in among their companions, and the yeoman-porter marches across the parade alone, to deposit the keys in the Lieutenant's lodgings. The ceremony over, not only is all egress and ingress totally precluded, but even within the walls no one can stir without being furnished with the countersign.
The Tower has a separate coroner, and the public have access to the fortress only by sufferance. When Horwood made his survey of London, 1799, he was denied admission to the Tower, and the refusal is thus recorded upon the map: "The Tower; the internal parts not distinguished, being refused permission to take the survey." The Tower is extra-parochial; and in 1851 the population was 882, and the military in barracks 606.
Nor must we forget the now extinct menagerie in the Tower. The first royal menagerie in England was at Woodstock, where Henry I. kept some lions and leopards to amuse his ladies and courtiers. Henry III. having three leopards sent him by the Emperor Frederick II., moved his wild beasts to the Tower, and thus commenced the menagerie which existed there till 1834. Among the national records many orders exist to the sheriffs of London, Bedfordshire, and Buckinghamshire to provide for the animals and their keepers. Thus in 1252 (Henry III.) the London sheriffs were ordered to pay fourpence a day for the maintenance of a white bear, and to provide a muzzle and chain to hold him while fishing or washing himself in the river Thames. In 1255 (same reign) they are again desired to build a house in the Tower for an elephant, sent to the king by Louis of France (the first ever seen in England since the Roman period). In the reigns of Edward I., Edward II., and Edward III., the lions and leopards were paid for at the rate of sixpence a day, while the keepers received only three-halfpence. At later periods the keeper of the Tower lions was a person of quality, who received sixpence a day, and the same sum for every animal under his charge. Henry VI. gave the post to his marshal, Robert Mansfield, and afterwards to Thomas Rookes, his dapifer.
The post was often held by the Lieutenant or Constable of the Tower, on condition of his providing a sufficient deputy. Our ancient kings had in their household an official called "the Master of the King's Bears and Apes." In a semi-circular enclosure round the Lion Tower, James I. and his court used to come to see lions and bears baited by dogs. In Howel's time there were six lions in the Tower, and probably no other animals. In 1708 Strype enumerates eleven lions, two leopards or tigers (the worthy historian, it seems, knows not which), three eagles, two owls, two cats of the mountain, and a jackal. In 1754 Maitland gives a much larger catalogue. By 1822, however, the Tower menagerie had sunk to a grizzly bear, an elephant, and a few birds. By the diligence of Mr. Cops, the keeper, the collection had increased, in 1829, to the following:—Bengal lion, lioness and cubs, Cape lion, Barbary lioness, tiger, leopard, jaguar, puma, ocelot, caracal, chetah or hunting leopard, striped hyaena, hyaena dog, spotted hyæna, African bloodhound, wolf, clouded black wolf, jackal, civet or musk cat, Javanese civet, grey ichneumon, paradoxurus, brown coati, racoon, American black bear, and grizzly bear.
A century ago, says Cunningham, the lions in the Tower were named after the reigning kings, and it was long a vulgar belief, "that when a king dies, the lion of that name dies after him." Addison alludes to this popular error in his own inimitable way:—"Our first visit," he says in the Freeholder, "was to the lions. My friend (the Tory Foxhunter), who had a great deal of talk with their keeper, inquired very much after their health, and whether none of them had fallen sick upon the taking of Perth and the flight of the Pretender? And hearing they were never better in their lives, I found he was extremely startled; for he had learned from his cradle that the lions in the Tower were the best judges of the title of our British kings, and always sympathised with our sovereigns."
The Bengal lion of 1829, "George," as the keepers called him, after the reigning king, had been captured when a cub by General Watson, who shot the parents. The general made a goat foster the two cubs during the voyage to England. They were at first allowed to walk in the open yard, the visitors playing with them with impunity. They used to be fed once a day only, on a piece of beef of eight or nine pounds weight. The lioness was perfectly tame till she bore cubs. One of the keepers on one occasion finding her at large, drove her back into her den, though he was only armed with a stick, and evaded the three springs she made at him. The menagerie declining, and the damp position and restricted room being found injurious to the animals, they were transferred to the Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park, in 1834. The refreshment room and ticket office occupy part of the site of the Lion Tower, but the buildings were not entirely removed until 1853. The "washing the Tower lions" on the 1st of April used to be an old London hoax.
The Tower Moat, long an offensive and useless nuisance, was finally drained in 1843, and then filled up and turfed as a small campus martius for the garrison. Evergreens are planted on the banks, and on the north-east is a shrubbery garden.
In draining the moat the workmen found several stone shot, supposed to be missiles directed at the fortress during the siege of 1460, when Lord Scales held the Tower for Henry VI., and the Yorkists cannonaded the fortress from a battery in Southwark. Our readers will remember two occasions when the Tower fired on the City: first, when the Bastard Falconbridge attacked the bridge under pretence of aiding the king; and again on Evil May Day, in the reign of Henry VIII., when the Constable of the Tower, enraged at the tumult, discharged his cannon on Cheapside way. In 1792, when there was much popular discontent, several hundred men were employed to repair the Tower fortifications, opening the embrasures, and mounting cannon; and on the west side of the fortress, a strong barricade was formed of old casks, filled with earth and rubble. The gates were closed at an early hour, and no one but soldiers allowed upon the ramparts. In 1830, when the Duke of Wellington, the Constable, filled the Tower Ditch with water, and cleansed and deepened it, the Radicals declared he was putting the fortress into order in case of the Reform agitation, as very likely he was.
The church of St. Peter ad Vincula, situated near to the north-west of the White Tower, was built, or rebuilt, by Edward III.; the private or royal chapel, in the upper part of the keep, having till then been the chief ecclesiastical building within the fortress where so many prisoners have groaned. The earlier church of St. Peter seems to have been large and spacious, fitted up with stalls for the king and queen, and with two chancels, adorned with shrines and sculpture. A letter still existing, and quoted by Strype, of Henry III. (that great builder), desires the keeper of the Tower works to plaster the chancel of St. Peter, and to colour anew the shrine and figure of Mary, and the images of St. Peter, St. Nicholas, St. Katherine, the beam beyond the altar of St. Peter, and the little cross with its figures, and to erect a painted image of the giant St. Christopher carrying Jesus. There were also to be made two tables, painted with the stories of the blessed St. Nicholas and St. Katherine, before the altars of the said saints. The king also ordered two fair cherubims, with cheerful and joyful countenances, to be made, and erected on the right and left of the great cross in the said church, and also a marble font with pillars, well and handsomely wrought; "and the cost for this you shall be at, by the view and witness of liege men, shall be reckoned to you at the Exchequer."
A. Middle Tower. B. Tower at the Gate. C. Bell Tower. D. Beauchamp Tower. E. Devilin Tower. F. Flint Tower. G. Brick Tower. I. Martin Tower. K. Constable Tower. L. Broad Arrow Tower. M. Salt Tower. N. Well Tower. O. Tower leading to Iron Gate. P. Tower above Iron Gate. Q. Cradle Tower. R. Lantern Tower. S. Hall Tower. T. Bloody Tower. V. St. Thomas's Tower. W. Cæsar's, or White Tower. X. Cole Harbour. Y. Wardrobe Tower. AB. House at Water Gate, called the Ram's Head. AH. End of Tower Street.
The interesting old church has been modernised by degrees into a small mean building, with five cinquefoil windows of late Gothic, a rude wooden porch, and a small square bell-turret at the west end. In a bird's-eye view of the Tower Liberties, made in 1597, the church is represented as having battlements, and two of the five windows are bricked up. They continued in that state till after 1739. It is supposed the old windows were destroyed by fire in the reign of Henry VIII. In the reign of Henry III. there was a small cell or hermitage for a male or female recluse behind the church, the inmate daily receiving a penny of the king's charity. The church now consists of a nave, chancel, and north aisle, the nave and aisle being separated by five low pointed arches.
In this building lie many great persons whose heads paid forfeit for their ambition or their crimes. There are innocent men and women, too, among them—victims of cruelty and treachery. Many who lie here headless suffered merely from being unfortunately too nearly allied to deposed royalty. In this little Golgotha are interred mighty secrets now never to be solved; for half the crimes of our English monarchs were wrought out on the little plot outside the church-door of St. Peter ad Vincula.
One of the earliest of the sufferers for state errors who lie in St. Peter's is Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare and Lord Deputy of Ireland, who, committed to the Tower for treasonable practices, died there of a broken heart in 1534. Of the Tower prisoners already mentioned by us there here rest—Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, for vexing Henry VIII. by refusing to deny the Papal supremacy. By his own request he was buried near Sir Thomas More. The next year the body of poor Anne Boleyn was tossed into an old arrowchest, and hurriedly buried here. Katherine Howard, a really guilty queen, though more deserving contempt than death, came next. In the same reign another grave was filled by Cromwell, Earl of Essex, the king's deposed favourite, and Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, mother of Cardinal Pole. The executioner chased this old countess, who refused to lay her head on the block as a traitor, round the scaffold, and killed her at last after many hasty blows.
The reign of Edward VI. brought some really evil men to the same burying-place. One by one they came, after days of greatness and of sorrow. First, Thomas Lord Seymour of Dudley, the Lord Admiral, beheaded by order of his brother, the Protector Somerset; then the bad and ambitious Protector himself.
In the reign of Mary were buried here, after execution, that poor unoffending young wife, Lady Jane, the victim of her selfish kinsman's ambition; and then the kinsman himself, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland. In Elizabeth's mild reign only the Earl of Essex, who so well deserved death, is to be added to the list.
In James's shameless reign the murdered Sir Thomas Overbury was interred here; and in the reign of Charles I. his victim, the great-hearted Sir John Eliot. His son begged to be allowed to convey his father's body to Cornwall, to lie among his ancestors; but Charles, cold and unrelenting, wrote at the foot of the petition, "Let Sir John Eliot's body be buried in the church of that parish where he died." After the Restoration, Okey, the regicide, was buried in the same place. The weak Duke of Monmouth lies beneath the communiontable, and beneath the west gallery are the bodies of Lords Kilmarnock, Balmerino, and that wicked old fox, Simon Lovat. The Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland, Anne Boleyn, and Katherine Howard were buried before the high altar.
The monuments in the church are interesting, because the church of St. Peter escaped the Great Fire. At the west end of the north aisle is a fine enriched table-tomb, to the memory of Sir Richard Cholmondeley (that name which is such a stumbling-block to foreigners), Lieutenant of the Tower, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth (early part of Henry VIII.). The knight's recumbent effigy is in plate-armour, with collar and pendant round his neck. His hands are joined in prayer. His lady wears a pointed head-dress, and the tomb has small twisted columns at the angles, and is divided at the sides into square panels, enclosing blank shields and lozenges. The monument formerly stood in the body of the church. In the chancel stands also a stately Elizabethan monument, to the memory of Sir Richard Blount, and Michael his son, both Lieutenants of the Tower. "Sir Richard, who died in 1560," says Bayley, "is represented on one side, in armour, with his two sons, kneeling; and opposite his wife and two daughters, who are shown, in the dress of the times, on the other. Sir Michael is represented in armour attended by his three sons, his wife and daughter, all in the attitude of prayer." There is also a monument in the chancel to Sir Allan Apsley, a Lieutenant of the Tower, who died in 1630. He was the father of that noble woman, Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson, whose husband was afterwards confined in the Bloody Tower. On the floor of the nave is a small and humble slab, to the memory of Talbot Edwards, gentleman, who died in 1674, aged eighty years. This was the brave old guardian of the regalia, whom Blood and his ruffians nearly killed, and who had at last to sell his long-deferred annuity of £200 for £100 ready money. There is also a monument to Colonel Gurwood, that brave soldier who led the storming party at Ciudad Rodrigo, who edited the "Wellington Despatches," and who died by his own hand, from insanity produced by his wounds. Other officers of the Tower are buried here, and amongst them George Holmes, the first Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries, and Deputy Keeper of the Records in the Tower (died 1748). On the outside of the church is a monument to the memory of William Bridges, SurveyorGeneral of the Ordnance under Queen Anne.
The blood-stained spot where the private executions formerly took place, nearly opposite the door of St. Peter's Church, is denoted by a large oval of dark flints. Here Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, and Essex perished. It was an old slander against Raleigh that at the execution of Essex he stood at a window opposite, and puffed out tobacco in disdain of him. But in his speech at the scaffold Raleigh declared, with all the solemnity due to such a moment, "My lord of Essex did not see my face at the time of his death, for I had retired far off into the armoury, where I indeed saw him, and shed tears for him, but he saw not me."
Archbishop Laud, in his superstitious "Diary," records with fanatical horror the fact, that in the lieutenancy of Alderman Pennington, the regicide Lord Mayor of London, one Kem, vicar of Low Leyton, in Essex, preached in this very St. Peter's in a gown over a buff coat and scarf.
In the reigns of Henry III. and Edward I. the chaplains of St. Peter's received 50s. per annum from the Exchequer. Afterwards the chaplain was turned into a rector, and given 60s. a year. In 1354 Edward III., however, converted the chapel into a sort of collegiate church, and appointed three chaplains to help the rector, granting them, besides the 60s., a rent of 31s. 8d. from tenements in Tower Hill and Petty Wales. Petty Wales was an old house in Thames Street, near the Custom House, supposed to be where the Princes of Wales used to reside when they came to the City. The chaplains also received a rent of 5s. from the Hospital of St. Katherine, and certain tributes from Thames fishing-boats, together with ten marks from the Exchequer, 20s. from the Constable of the Tower, 10s. from the clerk of the Mint, 13s. 4d. from the Master of the Mint, and 1d. per week from the wages of each workman or teller of coins at the Mint. The church was exempt from episcopal authority till the time of Edward VI.
Several interesting discoveries of Roman antiquities within the Tower precincts encourage us to the belief in the old tradition that the Romans built a fortress here. In 1777, workmen digging the foundations of a new office for the Board of Ordnance, after breaking through foundations of ancient buildings, found below the level of the present river-bed a double wedge of silver, four inches long, and in the broadest part nearly three inches broad. In the centre was the inscription, "Ex officinâ Honorii." This ingot is supposed to have been cast in the reign of the Emperor Honorius, A.D. 393, the Roman emperor who, harassed by the Goths, in A.D. 410 surrendered Britain to its own people, and finally withdrew the Roman troops. The unhappy Britons, then overwhelmed by the Picts and Scots, applied for assistance to the Saxons, who soon conquered the people they had come to assist. With this silver ingot were found three gold coins, aurei, one of Honorius, and two of his brother Arcadius. The coins of Arcadius were probably struck at Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern empire. On these coins (reverse) there is a soldier treading a captive under foot. In his left hand the soldier holds the labarum; in the right, a small figure of Victory. In the same spot was also found a square stone, dedicated to the manes of Titus Licinius, and a small glass crown.
In the year 1772 an elegant little open jewelled crown was found near the east side of the White Tower, leading from Cold Harbour. It seems to have been the crown of some image, and was set with emeralds, rubies, and pearls.
The Waterloo Barracks, a large modern Gothic building, that will hold 1,000 men, used as a barrack and armoury, and loopholed for musketry, was completed in 1849, on the site of the Grand Storehouse, burned down in 1841. The first stone was laid in 1845 by the Duke of Wellington, a stone statue of whom, by Milnes, stands near the spot. North-east of the White Tower is another modern castellated range of buildings, for the officers of the garrison. South-eastward are the Ordnance Office and storehouses. The area of the Tower within the walls is twelve acres and five poles, and the circuit outside the ditch is 1,050 yards. The portcullis of the Bloody Tower is one of the last complete relics of feudalism, being the only perfect and usable portcullis in England.
The Royal Mint had its offices in the Tower
till 1811, when the present building on Tower Hill
was completed. Stow speaks of the Tower as a
citadel to defend or command the City, a royal
palace for assemblies or treaties, a state prison for
dangerous offenders, the only place for coining in
England in his time, an armoury for warlike provisions, the treasury of the jewels of the crown,
and the storehouse of the records of the king's
courts of justice at Westminster. Many of our
poets have specially mentioned the Tower. Of
these, Shakespeare stands pre-eminent. In the
tragedy of Richard III. he shows us the two
princes' instinctive horror of the place in which
their cruel uncle, the Crookback, wished them to
spend the few days before the coronation of the
"Prince. I do not like the Tower, of any place.
Did Julius Cæsar build that place, my lord?
Buck. He did, my gracious lord, begin that place,
Which since succeeding ages have re-edified.
Prince. Is it upon record, or else reported
Successively from age to age, he built it?
Buck. Upon record, my gracious lord."
And in another passage, in Richard II., the poet
seems to hint at a similar association:—
"This is the way
To Julius Caesar's ill-erected Tower."
Gray, in his "Bard," speaks of—
"Ye towers of Julius, London's lasting shame,
With many a foul and midnight murder fed."
Before tearing ourselves from the Tower, we may mention a few nooks and corners of interest not generally known to visitors. In the northeastern turret of the White Tower was the observatory of that great astronomical rival of Newton, John Flamstead. Here often he "outwatched the bear." The Ordnance Office gave him £100 a year. The roof of this tower was a promenade for prisoners. In 1708 there were 3,000 barrels of gunpowder stored close to the White Tower. The Record Tower, or Hall Tower, was formerly called the Wakefield Tower, from the Yorkist prisoners confined there after that great battle of the Roses.
The most terrible cells of the fortress, such as those over which Mr. Harrison Ainsworth threw a blue fire, are in the Bowyer Tower, where there is a ghastly hole with a trap-door, opening upon a flight of steps. In the lower chambers of the Devereux Tower are subterranean passages, leading to St. Peter's Church. In the Beauchamp Tower a secret passage has been discovered in the masonry, where spies could cower, and listen to the conversations and soliloquies of poor unsuspecting prisoners. One torture-chamber was called, says Mr. Hewitt, "Little Ease," because it was so small that a prisoner could not stand erect, or even lie down at full length. Other cells are said to have been full of rats, which at high water were driven up in shoals from the Thames. Hatton, in 1708, describes the Tower guns as sixty-two in number; they were on the wharf, and were discharged on all occasions of victories, coronations, festival days, days of thanksgiving, and triumphs. They are now fired from a salutation-battery facing Tower Hill. The prisoner's walks in the Tower, spots of many a mournful hour of regret and contemplation, are specially interesting. There is one—a passage on the leads between the (alarm) Bell Tower and the Beauchamp Tower. The walls are carved with names. In the Garden Tower are also leads where prisoners used to pace; and Pepys, visiting the Tower, March 11, 1669, in order to see Sir W. Coventry, they visit what was then called "My Lord of Northumberland's Walk;" at the end of it there was a piece of iron upon the wall with his arms upon it, and holes to put in a peg for every turn made upon the walk. Mrs. Hutchinson especially mentions that her husband was confined in the room of the Bloody Tower where it was said the two princes were murdered. The room that led to it was that in which, it is popularly believed, the Duke of Clarence was drowned. "It was a dark, great room," says the amiable and faithful wife, "with no window in it, and the portcullis of a gate was drawn up within it, and below there sat every night a court of guard."
The council-chamber of the Lieutenant's lodgings, where Guy Fawkes was examined, and perhaps tortured, is said to be haunted, and the soldiers of the Tower have a firm belief that a ghost, in some ambiguous and never clearly-defined shape, appeared on one occasion to a drunken sentry near the Martin Tower, the old Jewel House. It is said that upwards of 1,000 prisoners have been groaning together at one time in the Tower. The person who believes in the Tower ghost can swallow this too. Bayley mentions that the bones of an old ape, which had hidden itself and died in an unoccupied turret, were set down in his time as those of the two murdered princes.
During the Spa Fields riot some of the rioters, including Thistlewood, afterwards the desperate leader of the Cato Street conspirators, came to the Tower walls and tried to persuade the soldiers to join them, offering them £100 each, but failed to win over even a single recruit. A few years ago the population of the Tower, including the garrison, was 1,488.
In old times, says Mr. Dixon, in his book on London Prisons, whenever it was found necessary to carry a prisoner through the streets, the sheriffs received him from the king's lieutenants at the entrance to the City, gave a receipt for him, and took another on delivering him up at the gates of the Tower. The receipt of the Governor of the Tower for the body of the Duke of Monmouth—his living body—is still extant.