|White Tower (Tower of London), London, England. Photograph taken by Terry Barry. There is restoration work being carried out on one of the towers.
The White Tower is a central tower at the Tower of London. The great central keep was built by William the Conqueror and finished by his sons and successors, William Rufus and Henry I, around 1087. It is 90 feet high and is of massive construction, the walls varying from 15 feet thickness at the base to almost 11 feet in the upper parts. Above the battlements rise four turrets; three of them are square, but the one on the north-east is circular. This turret once contained the first royal observatory.
King Henry III - 1216-72 - had the exterior of the building whitewashed, which is how the tower got its name.
A royal council chamber occupied the middle floor. In this chamber in 1399 Richard II was forced to sign away his throne, and in 1483 Richard III summarily sentenced Lord Hastings to death.
Its walls are now home to displays from the Royal armouries including original armours worn by Henry VIII and Charles I plus a reconstructed display of the massive collection of weapons once housed in the Grand Storehouse. Visit the 'Spanish Armoury' which contains The Tower's historic instruments of torture, including the infamous block and axe.
In 1974, there was a bomb explosion in the mortar room in the White tower leaving one person dead and 41 injured. No one claimed responsibility for the blast, however the police were investigating suspicions that the IRA was behind it.
There are suspicions that the Princes in the Tower were truly murdered in the White Tower rather than in the legendary Bloody Tower, but like most of the story, evidence is unclear.
It was in the White Tower that King Richard II - 1377-99 - was condemned as a tyrant and forced to abdicate, by his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV - 1399-1413.
Randulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham the First recorded prisoner at the Tower of London, was imprisoned in the White Tower on the orders of King Henry I in 1100, escaped in 1101 and fled to Normandy, using a rope smuggled to him in a pot of wine.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Tower_%28Tower_of_London%29 [Website visited 03 April 2007]