Constable of HM Palace and Fortress, the Tower of London.

London Historians' Blog

General the Lord Dannatt recently retired from the ancient position of Constable of the Tower. Here, LH Member Chris West writes a guest post about some of the highlights of this 900 year old office.

This is the most senior appointment at the Tower; the first Constable was Geoffrey de Mandeville, appointed by William the Conqueror in 1078. In the medieval period, four Archbishops of Canterbury held the office, Thomas à Becket being the most famous. The Constable of the Tower was nominally responsible for management of the site when the monarch was not in residence; the duties for managing the site devolved to a deputy known as the Lieutenant of the Tower, who had an office with clerks to oversee administration, accounting and running the Constable’s own court of law.

white tower

Over time Constables acquired a variety of legal and financial privileges which included collecting tolls on selected goods from trading…

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The Ceremony of the Constable’s Dues

Brilliant spectacle!!!

London Historians' Blog

This ceremony is held on an occasional basis at the Tower of London. It originates in the 14C when, under Richard II, it was decided that any large navy vessel which traveled upstream to the Tower must pay a levy to the Constable. This takes the form of a barrel of rum and is one of a raft of lucrative privileges enjoyed by the Tower’s constables for use of the Thames or London Bridge, the underlying principle being that the Tower provides protection to visitors.

This morning it was the turn of HMS Defender  – a new Class 45 Destroyer – to pay the Dues. Led by Commander Stephen Higham and supported by the band of the Royal Marines, the sailors delivered the barrel to the current Constable, the Lord Dannatt, formerly commander in chief of the British Army.

Visitors to the Tower were clearly delighted at this unexpected treat. My thanks to LH…

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City Hole. Crossrail Archaeology.

London Historians' Blog

Our visit in perfect weather to the Crossrail archaeology site at Liverpool Street yesterday. It’s just north of the old London wall at Moorfields, near where Bedlam #2 was sited, making it London suburbia in ancient and medieval times. In a previous phase, the team have discovered human remains of thousands here and nearby in recent months, far more than would have come from the Bethlehem Hospital and probably more than can be explained away as plague pits. More research and analysis is required, which will take some years in all.

The sometimes notorious Bethlehem Hospital in Moorfields by Robert Hooke. The sometimes notorious Bethlehem Hospital in Moorfields by Robert Hooke.

But right now they are down to the 1C/2C Roman layer next to an old road and a tributary of the Walbrook river. A very marshy area historically which the Romans, naturally, succeeded in draining. We were shown close-up a variety of objects – some unidentifiable at the moment – which have been discovered in…

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Talk: The Story Of St Katharine’s, Guildhall Library, 5th May 2 to 3 p.m.

The Story Of St Katharine's I will be outlining the story of this small area adjacent to The Tower Of London, now in the shadow of Tower Bridge, from the ancient 12th century, Royal Hospital and Church, through its destruction and removal of more than four thousand people to make way for the world famous Telford Docks- it’s gradual decline and closure, then the marvellous renovation in the 1970’s, creating the new Yacht Haven, eventually becoming the magnificent Marina we know and cherish today. Order your free tickets via Eventbrite, http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-history-of-st-katharines-tickets-16368813562?aff=efbevent