The Tower of London dates from William the Conqueror's reign in 1078. In its time, it has been a treasury for the King's jewels, an armoury, a prison, the only mint in the kingdom, a store-house for the records of justice and a ménage of exotic animals.
Rudolph Hess, Hitler's deputy, was one of the Tower's last celebrity prisoners. He was detained for four days in 1941.
Did you know...?
From the late 18th century, river freight was carried on Thames sailing barges, whose design allowed them to lower and raise their mast quickly when passing under a bridge.
Before motor vehicles began to take off at the beginning of the 20th century there were nearly 500,000 horses in London with hardly any grazing land at all. ‘Stackies' carried the vast amounts of hay needed for the horse population, and carried out similar quantities of manure.
Downriver of Tower Bridge, on both banks, are some of London's most historic riverside pubs. They include the Grapes in Limehouse, which features in Dickens' Our Mutual Friend as The Five Jolly Fellowship Porters. In 1620, from the jetty just outside a pub called The Mayflower, the Pilgrim Fathers set out to cross the Atlantic. Just over two hundred years later, JMW Turner painted The Fighting Temeraire after sitting outside the Angel pub and watching one of Nelson's ships being towed into the breakers yard. The Prospect of Whitby dates from 1520. For a time it was known as the Devil's Tavern and was an infamous haunt of smugglers and river pirates.
Discover great places to visit between St Katharine Docks to Canary Wharf