The fact that the Tower of London is an important London historic site and a fantastic place for a day out in the city is hardly breaking news, but I had the chance to re-visit the Tower with some friends from overseas this week and was impressed once again with how the team at Historic Royal Palaces manages to bring royal tradition to life for modern visitors.
The exhibition spaces, such as the Jewel House, are perfect for contemporary audiences. The Crown Jewels and other priceless exhibits are, of course, spectacular in their own right, but the way in which they are displayed alongside easily-digestible information boards and video footage of the treasures in use on formal occasions helps bridge the gap between the potentially stuffy world of medieval tradition and a 21st-century pleasure-seeking public. The travelator that takes visitors past the most popular crowns is ingenious, allowing enough time for a leisurely viewing of the exhibits while avoiding bottle-necked crowds.
Younger audiences will no doubt enjoy the Tower’s many entertaining interactive exhibits, such as the Royal Beasts exhibition, which charts the history of the Tower as the Royal Menagerie prior to the opening of London Zoo, and the fortress battlements where visitors are invited to take up weapons and try on armoured helmets to protect the Tower from invaders.
From the solemn, recreated interiors of the Medieval Palace to the modern audiovisual displays that bring the sparkling Crown Jewels to life, all parts of the Tower of London work together to make for an informative and entertaining historic experience.