The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

At the period of this chronicle, as at the present time, the Tower of London comprehended within its walls a superficies of rather more than twelve acres, and without the moat a circumference of three thousand feet and upwards. Consisting of a citadel or keep, surrounded by an inner and outer ward, it was approached on the west by an entrance called the Bulwark Gate, which has long since disappeared. The second entrance was formed by an embattled tower, called the Lion’s Gate, conducting to a strong tower flanked with bastions, and defended by a double portcullis, denominated the Middle Tower. The outworks adjoining these towers, in which was kept the menagerie, were surrounded by a smaller moat, communicating with the main ditch. A large drawbridge then led to another portal, in all respects resembling that last described, forming the principal entrance to the outer ward, and called the By-ward or Gate Tower. The outer ward was defended by a strong line of fortifications; and at the north-east corner stood a large circular bastion, called the Mount.

The inner ward or ballium was defended by thirteen towers, connected by an embattled stone wall about forty feet high and twelve feet thick, on the summit of which was a footway for the guard. Of these towers, three were situated at the west, namely, the Bell, the Beauchamp, and the Devilin Towers; four at the north, the Flint, the Bowyer, the Brick, and the Martin Towers; three at the east, the Constable, the Broad Arrow, and Salt Towers; and three on the south, the Well, the Lanthorn, and the Bloody Tower. The Flint Tower has almost disappeared; the Bowyer Tower only retains its basement story; and the Brick Tower has been so much modernised as to retain little of its pristine character. The Martin Tower is now denominated the Jewel Tower, from the circumstance of its being the depositary of the regalia. The Lanthorn Tower has been swept away with the old palace.

Returning to the outer ward, the principal fortification on the south was a large square structure, flanked at each angle by an embattled tower. This building, denominated Saint Thomas’s, or Traitor’s Tower, was erected across the moat, and masked a secret entrance from the Thames, through which state prisoners, as has before been related, were brought into the Tower. It still retains much of its original appearance, and recalls forcibly to the mind of the observer the dismal scenes that have occurred beneath its low-browed arches. Further on the seat, in a line with Traitor’s Tower, and terminating a wing of the old palace, stood the Cradle Tower. At the eastern angle of the outer ward was a small fortification over-looking the moat, known as the Tower leading to the Iron Gate. Beyond it a drawbridge crossed the moat, and led to the Iron Gate, a small portal protected by a tower, deriving its name from the purpose for which it was erected.

At this point, on the patch of ground intervening between the moat and the river, and forming the platform or wharf, stood a range of mean habitations, occupied by the different artisans and workmen employed in the fortress. At the south of the By-ward Tower, an arched and embattled gateway opened upon a drawbridge which crossed the moat at this point. Opposite this drawbridge were the main stairs leading to the edge of the river. The whole of the fortress, it is scarcely necessary to repeat, was (and still is) encompassed by a broad deep moat, of much greater width at the sides next to Tower Hill and East Smithfield, than at the south, and supplied with water from the Thames by the sluice beneath Traitor’s Gate.

Having now made a general circuit of the fortress, we shall return to the inner ballium, which is approached on the south by a noble gateway, erected in the reign of Edward the Third. A fine specimen of the architecture of the fourteenth century, this portal is vaulted with groined arches adorned with exquisite tracery springing from grotesque heads. At the period of this chronicle, it was defended at each end by a massive gate clamped with iron, and a strong portcullis. The gate and portcullis at the southern extremity still exist, but those at the north have been removed. The structure above it was anciently called the Garden Tower; but subsequently acquired the appellation of the Bloody Tower, from having been the supposed scene of the murder of the youthful princes, sons of Edward the Fourth, by the ruthless Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard the Third. Without pausing to debate the truth of this tragical occurrence, it may be sufficient to mention that tradition assigns it to this building.

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