Day 8: Londinium Calling! 


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The Boys Luxembourg strategy totally worked!! Mike and Bone hit both spots and was able to make another ridiculous early morning flight. It was a short one hour flight over the Channel where the Boys dozed from all the running around they did the day before. As the plane started their landing, Mike and Bone got an awesome view of their objective for the day, the founding of Roman Britain! Londinium!!!


Another Early Morning Flight

Landing at London City Airport, Bone had booked a Hotel in Lambeth (his old hangout) called the Parc Place, which was right across the Bakerloo Line on the London Tube. It gave the Boys access to the whole on London. After dropping their bags, Mike and Bone headed to where the Romans started the whole darn London experience, The Tower of London!.


Where William the Bastard used the Romans Work! 

The history of London, spans over 2000 years. In that time, it has withstood plague, devastating fire, civil war, aerial bombardment, terrorist attacks, riots and now Mike and Bone!

Make no doubt about it London is a Roman Town, as discussed by noted archaeologist Leslie Wallace notes, "Because no Late pre-Roman Iron Age settlements or significant domestic refuse have been found in London, despite extensive archaeological excavation, arguments for a purely Roman foundation of London are now common and uncontroversial."


The Tower of London,

A Cool Place on a Freakin' Hot Day!! 

Londinium was established as a civilian town by the Romans about four years after the invasion of 43 AD. London, like Rome, was founded on the point of the river where it was narrow enough to bridge and the strategic location of the city provided easy access to much of Europe. Early Roman London occupied a relatively small area, roughly equivalent to the size of Hyde Park. In around 60 AD, it was destroyed by the Iceni led by their queen Boudica. The city was quickly rebuilt as a planned Roman town and recovered after perhaps 10 years; the city grew rapidly over the following decades.

Although some sources claim that during the 2nd century Londinium replaced Colchester as the capital of Roman Britannia) there is no surviving evidence to prove it was ever the capital of Roman Britain. Its population was around 60,000 inhabitants. It boasted major public buildings, including the largest basilica north of the Alps, temples, bath houses, an amphitheater and a large fort for the city garrison. Political instability and recession from the 3rd century onwards led to a slow decline.

At some time between 180 AD and 225 AD, the Romans built the defensive London Wall around the landward side of the city. The wall would survive for another 1,600 years and define the City of London's perimeters for centuries to come. The perimeters of the present City are roughly defined by the line of the ancient wall. THIS is the wall that William the Bastard (later to be known as “William the Conqueror”), a Norman from France used to extend around his Tower to ruled his captured country from.

To think, this is where the modern English royalty spawned from, an illegitimate Norman (they were not even French, they were Vikings!) from Normandy France, that re-used an abandoned Roman Wall to make his castle!

This was the backdrop Mike and Bone had as the got ready for a scorching hot day! This was not cold, rainy London! It felt more like the Sahara in Egypt! Buying two tickets (a bottles of water!)


Mike and Bone, Baking in the Tower of London!

Walking into the simmering late morning heat was a Yeoman Warder, better known as a "Beefeater." Recognized as symbols of the Tower of London all over the world, they have been there for centuries. They were originally part of the Yeomen of the Guard, the monarch's personal bodyguard who travelled with him. The poor chap that had to lead Mike and Bone's Tour came out in FULL regalia, stewing like a teapot with the flame on high. He kept drinking water that he said was gin to the point that the Boys were not sure if he wasn't telling the truth! He had as interesting point that there really is not more English Place in England than the Tower of London and how the Roman’s helped a William.

So, the current Prince of Wales is a William, and so was the first Norman King of England was also a William. After being victorious at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, the invading Duke of Normandy, William the Bastard, became William the Conqueror who spent the rest of the year securing his holdings by fortifying key positions. He founded several castles along the way, but took a circuitous route toward London; only when he reached Canterbury did he turn towards England's largest city. As the fortified bridge into London was held by Saxon troops, he decided instead to ravage Southwark before continuing his journey around southern England. A series of Norman victories along the route cut the city's supply lines and in December 1066, isolated and intimidated, its leaders yielded London without a fight.


Touring the Tower

So walking Mike and Bone into the Tower proper, the sweaty Beefeater told the trailing tour that between 1066 and 1087, William established 36 castles, although references in the Domesday Book indicate that many more were founded by his subordinates. The Normans undertook what has been described as "the most extensive and concentrated program of castle-building in the whole history of feudal Europe". They were multi-purpose buildings, serving as fortifications (used as a base of operations in enemy territory), centers of administration, and residences. So since he was the conqueror, and not a friend to the local, a strong, permanent castle was needed quickly and the central location of the old Roman Wall have William the headstart he need to protect himself from the “English Rabble.”

The first thing William built with a wall was the White Tower, which dates from the late 11th century. Most of the early Norman castles in that time were built from timber, but the Tower of London was built with white stone.  Work on the White Tower – which gives the whole castle its name, is usually considered to have begun in 1078, however the exact date is uncertain. William made Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, responsible for its construction, although it may not have been completed until after William's death in 1087. The White Tower is the earliest stone keep in England, and was the strongest point of the early castle. It also contained grand accommodation for the king. At the latest, it was probably finished by 1100 when Bishop Ranulf Flambard was imprisoned there. Flambard was loathed by the English for exacting harsh taxes. Although he is the first recorded prisoner held in the Tower, he was also the first person to escape from it, using a smuggled rope secreted in a butt of wine. He was held in luxury and permitted servants, but on 2 February 1101 he hosted a banquet for his captors. After plying them with drink, when no one was looking he lowered himself from a secluded chamber, and out of the Tower. The escape came as such a surprise that one contemporary chronicler accused the bishop of witchcraft.

Not the Bridge of Sighs, but the Bridge of Cries!

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that in 1097 King William II ordered a broader wall to be built around the Tower of London; it was probably built from stone and likely replaced the timber palisade that arced around the north and west sides of the castle, between the Roman wall (to the east) and the Thames (to the south).  This included a bridge to the Thames that the Royals used to bring in their prisoners for imprisonment in the ...........................................


"Keep yore 'ead aboutcha"!

A Tower Guard to Sir Walter Raleigh in the Prison Tower

In the 16th century, the Tower acquired an enduring reputation as a grim, forbidding prison. This had not always been the case. As a royal castle, it was used by the monarch to imprison people for various reasons, however these were usually high-status individuals for short periods rather than common citizenry as there were plenty of prisons elsewhere for such people. Contrary to the popular image of the Tower, prisoners were able to make their life easier by purchasing amenities such as better food or tapestries through the Lieutenant of the Tower. As holding prisoners was originally an incidental role of the Tower – as would have been the case for any castle – there was no purpose-built accommodation for prisoners until 1687 when a brick shed, a "Prison for Soldiers", was built to the north-west of the White Tower. This is pictured by Mike and Bone in the picture above as the place those unfortunates were kept.

The Tower's reputation for torture and imprisonment derives largely from 16th-century religious propagandists and 19th-century romanticists. Although much of the Tower's reputation is exaggerated, the 16th and 17th centuries marked the castle's zenith as a prison, with many religious and political undesirables locked away. The Privy Council had to sanction the use of torture, so it was not often used; between 1540 and 1640, the peak of imprisonment at the Tower, there were 48 recorded cases of the use of torture. The three most common forms used were the infamous rack, the Scavenger's daughter, and manacles. The rack was introduced to England in 1447 by the Duke of Exeter, the Constable of the Tower; consequentially it was also known as the Duke of Exeter's daughter. One of those tortured at the Tower was Guy Fawkes, who was brought there on 6 November 1605; after torture he signed a full confession to the Gunpowder Plot.

Among those held and executed at the Tower was Anne Boleyn. Although the Yeoman Warders were once the Royal Bodyguard, by the 16th and 17th centuries their main duty had become to look after the prisoners. The Tower was often a safer place than other prisons in London such as the Fleet, where disease was rife. High-status prisoners could live in conditions comparable to those they might expect outside; one such example was that while Walter Raleigh was held in the Tower his rooms were altered to accommodate his family, including his son who was born there in 1605. Executions were usually carried out on Tower Hill rather than in the Tower of London itself, and 112 people were executed on the hill over 400 years.

Before the 20th century, there had been seven executions within the castle on Tower Green; as was the case with Lady Jane Grey, this was reserved for prisoners for whom public execution was considered dangerous. After Lady Jane Grey's execution on 12 February 1554, Queen Mary I imprisoned her sister Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth I, in the Tower under suspicion of causing rebellion as Sir Thomas Wyatt had led a revolt against Mary in Elizabeth's name.


Gunning for the Armory in the White Tower!

Next the Beefeater let the Boys check out Williams the Conquerors  original building, White Tower that also holds the Royal Armories, which traces its history back 700 years! In in  July 1323, John Fleet was appointed as 'keeper of the part of the king's wardrobe in the Tower of London', the Tower became a place for the manufacture and storage of arms, armour, and artillery.  Since the Royal Armory is on the second floor as the Boys came up to the staircase the read about a sordid but mysterious story of British History!


"Kids be careful with your Uncle Richard!"

So, the story goes that Richard III, brother of King IV’s killed his two nephews to gain the crown. It is one of the most debated topics in Medieval English history is the case of Richard III and the untimely disappearance of King Edward IV’s sons. The mystery surrounding what happened to the young princes; Edward V and Richard of York has intrigued both contemporaries and historians alike. Whilst many have chosen to blame Richard III for the young boys’ deaths, over the years no definitive proof has been dug up that can be attributed to Richard III, or anyone for that matter, as being responsible. Interestingly, it has now come to the understanding of many historians that Richard III may not be the one to blame.

For many years, what we knew of Richard III and the fate of the princes came from the writings of Thomas More and then, from William Shakespeare. Thomas More, writing under Henry VIII, argued that Richard III was a villainous, unlawful king who did away with his nephews in order to claim the throne for himself. More’s account is increasingly important in the history of Richard III and the princes, as it was the first written documentation that placed blame and responsibility for the deaths of Edward V and Richard Duke of York on Richard III. It was also More’s work on Richard III that influenced Shakespeare’s play by the same title. In this, he follows More’s interpretation of Richard III, describing him as an ‘evil murderous uncle’. Writing years later, in 2019, Michael Hicks in his book Richard III: The Self-Made King argues that there is no mystery surrounding the case of who killed the princes, because there was simply no opportunity for anyone else to have committed the crime, thus Hicks puts forward that no other suspect can be credible.

However, in recent years, a number of historians have criticized both More’s and Shakespeare’s account, discounting them as Tudor propaganda written over 20 years after the events were supposed to have taken place. With both of these authors writing under Tudor monarchs, it is easy to see how their writings were not built on fact alone. Vested interests in presenting Richard III as evil, unlawful and murderous were paramount during this time in order to convey the current reigning monarchs as legitimate in their right to the throne.

As well as this, historians today have pointed out that there is no sufficient evidence, both from the time and at current, to prove that Richard III was guilty of the crimes he was accused, and that all accusations made at that time were simply based off of rumors and hearsay. To support this, they often refer to the ignorance of the supposed confession of Sir James Tyrell in committing the murders on Richard III’s behalf. If he provided solid evidence that it was Richard to blame, then why was his confession not mentioned beyond a slight referral, including when looking at the work of Vergil and Fabian? Furthering this, they have drawn upon the lack of a public statement until after Richard’s death. The first public statement made about the princes deaths was made by Henry VII in 1486, the year after Richard III’s death. Why was this? Some historians have noted that this was because the princes hadn’t been murdered until after this point. So if Richard wasn’t responsible for their deaths than who was? Suspects have ranged from the Duke of Buckingham, Henry VII and Margaret Beaufort, all having a motive to be rid of the young princes and to gain power. The idea of Richard III’s innocence has become one of significant prevalence in recent years, and has made its way into popular culture today, influencing the views and perceptions of his character on a larger scale.

In 1674, it was reported that the bones of two young children, of similar ages to the princes, were found underneath the staircase of the White Tower in the Tower of London, where it was argued that they were last seen. Following an eyewitness statement which declared that there were pieces of velvet clung to the bones, they were declared to be the bodies of the royal princes, seeing as only royals could wear such high quality fabric. In 1933, these bodies were further examined and it was determined that they were the bodies of two boys, aged around 10 and 12 years old.

However, since then there has been a number of doubts about the reliability of the 1933 forensic investigation, following on from the discovery of Richard III body in a Leicester car park. Work done by Dr. Ashdown-Hill and Philippa Langley in their Missing Princes Project have found the 1933 investigation to have been flawed. They pick out mainly that the sex of the bones and the historical period in which the bones are from is actually unknown to us. As well as this, they actually claim that the bones found in this investigation came from more than two individuals. In this, they almost completely disprove the, up until now, well-known notion that these bones belonged to the princes in the tower. They also push for the DNA evidence that has been used to prove the bones of Richard III to be him, to be tested against the bones found in the tower.

So, if there is DNA evidence available that can prove or disprove the bones to be that of the princes in the tower, then why hasn’t it been used to help figure out this centuries old mystery? Were the princes even murdered? Perhaps this is the debate that needs to be discussed more by historians. All in all, in the case surrounding the death of the princes in the tower and Richard III, while there may never be a definitive answer on what really happened to the princes, the road to clearing Richard’s name seems to be one they are getting closer to.


With that story, Mike and Bone went up to the third and final floor of the White Tower to check out the final exhibits of the famed White Tower.


William the Conqueror's Third Floor Room

"So Many Faces in So May Places ! ", Jimmy Buffett

Holy Smokes!

On the way out, Mike and Bone checked out one of four original fireplaces in the White Tower. As with other early Norman fireplaces, which pre-date the introduction of the chimney stack, the smoke was allowed to escape through two holes in the side of the building through a flue in the thickness of the wall. This is one of the earliest wall fireplaces to be found in England. It represents a great improvement on earlier arrangements where fires were burnt in the center of a room with smoke having to escape through holes in the roof. The fireplace was altered to its present form in the 19th century, but originally there was a projecting hood to trap the smoke. This too was an innovation of the early Norman period and allowed the hearth to be brought further into the room so as to give out more heat.

With that ironically talking about heat from a fireplace, Mike and Bone headed back out into the now roasting Mid-Day heat! It was as they headed to the exit, they finally saw the Roman wall that started it all! The Roman Wall that William used!


All Hail Trajan's Wall !

What is the best way to replenish lost liquids on a hot day?!? Water? Nope!, How about a perfect pint of the Guinness! Fortunately Bone knew of a place right across the street from the Tower!


One of Bone's favorite pubs for Fish and Chips in London, the Minories!!

The Minories is a large cavernous pub in railway arches near the Tower Tube Station. It has a traditional British pub feel with stone flooring, brick walls and wooden furniture. They have great cask beer and some of the best fish and chips on the planet! Mike and Bone downed a good number of that creamy Guinness you can only get in Britian, and chowed the huge portion of beer battered cod that makes England the place for fish and chips! After lunch, the Boys headed for the Tube Station to run into more Rome!


Emperor Trajan Protecting the  Londinium Wall by the Tower Tube Station!

Much of the wall that surround old London Citie is long gone, repurposed for many reasons. However the small bit in the Tower itself, and the little section outside is now "guarded" by the Emperor Trajan! While the wall is original, the statue was build in the 1950's but artful depicts London's Roman past.  Jumping on the Tube, the Boys headed back to the Parc Place Waterloo to check out Bone's old Lambeth neighborhood and Waterloo Station!


Pints in Piccadilly Circus!

After walking around the Boys grabbed a light dinner, since they had an awesome fish and chips lunch. As the warm evening approached it was time to hit London's version of Times Square, Piccadilly Circus! Similar to Times Square, this is where the Brits check out live theatre and have some of the best restaurants in London, oh by the way, lots and lots of pubs!


London's ChinaTown!

Ironically just off of Piccadilly is Londons own ChinaTown, where Mike and Bone walked through the wok-filled restaurants and Chinese Tea Rooms. Right next to ChinaTown is Soho!


Sippin' Suds in Soho!

Soho is a perfect place to have a perfect pint! Mike and Bone went into one of the many fine local establishments with a football match on the telly, and supped a few of the brown creature!!!


Stepping back on Bakerloo Home!

Mike and Bone Piccadilly a circus only till about 10:30, getting up two days in a row at 4:30 and the high heat of the day got to the traveling terrors. Back down the steps onto the trusty Bakerloo line for a quick 15 minute ride back to Lambeth for the night!