A small group of Paviors were fortunate enough to attend a very special tour of the Tower of London prior to witnessing the Ceremony of the Keys on Thursday 9 June. ​

The group was warmly greeted by the Guide, Tony King, the Tower’s Maintenance and Facilities Manager, who showed the group around the Tower. There were many highlights, including seeing the Grant of Special Access to Murals from the 11th Century, and a picture of an angel constructed from vegetable matter, which appeared as fresh and bright as if painted yesterday. The group were also shown the rather grand residences for the in-house members of staff adjacent to the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, a ‘Royal Peculiar’, which is directly under the jurisdiction of the Queen. The Royal Chapel is the site of St Thomas More’s tomb, and its services are open to the public.

The Paviors were shown the lodgings for the ravens, who live at the Tower. Legend has it that the Monarchy and Tower will fall if the six resident ravens leave. For this reason, a seventh bird is also kept ‘as a spare’, and the birds’ wings are clipped. The ravens can live for over 40 years at the Tower, as they are so well looked after.

The Ceremony of the Keys, has taken place every night for the last 750 years. There was only one occasion, in 1941, when part of the Tower was bombed, which resulted in the delay of the Ceremony by six minutes. King George VI gracefully accepted a letter of apology from the Officer of the Guard, but stated that a delay should not happen again.

As darkness cloaked the Tower, and with the brightly lit Shard as the backdrop, silence fell as the Yeoman Warders performed the gate-closing ritual. This involved a sentry shouting ‘Halt! Who comes there?’, followed by ‘Pass Queen Elizabeth’s Keys;.all’s well’. The Last Post was sounded at the end. The Ceremony to secure the fortress, including the Crown Jewels, is just seven minutes long and, at 10.05pm, the Paviors’ group left the Tower through a wicket gate.

This lively and engaging tour of the Tower was organized by the Liverymen’s Committee and was enjoyed by all. ​