Last updated: 01/10/2019
The Jewel Tower is a tower that is part of England's medieval history. The Palace of Westminster (the building that houses the Parliament) was very different from what we know today, as, in the 19th century, a great fire destroyed part of the palace and changed it forever. The Jewel Tower is evidence of this structure that dates back to the Middle Ages and tells the story of London at this time.
THE JEWEL TOWER
Located opposite the Palace of Westminster, now across the street, the Jewel Tower is one of the few buildings to survive from the medieval Palace of Westminster, the central residence of the English monarchy for much of the Middle Ages. Only three other buildings (Westminster Hall, St Mary's Chapel and St Stephen's Cloister) survived the fire of 1834 and the construction of the current Palace of Westminster. This tower is rare evidence of the former medieval Palace of Westminster, with much of its 14th century architecture remaining relatively unchanged. In its 650-year history the tower has served three significant functions relating to the government of England:
- from its construction (between 1365 and 1366) until the beginning of the 16th century: at the request of King Edward III to house the Crown Jewels (hence the name Torre das Joias, in Portuguese)
- from the late 16th century to 1864: storage of House of Lords parliamentary records
- from 1869 to 1938: Royal Weights and Measures office for the purpose of storing and testing official weights and measures
The tower is a structure of three floors "L" shaped stone built. In the past, the tower occupied an isolated part of the palace and was protected by a moat joined to the River Thames. In 1948, the building was placed under the care of the Ministry of Works, which repaired the damage suffered during the Second World War. In 1956, the Tower opened its doors for tourist purposes. along with the Westminster Palace and the Westminster Abbey, the complex has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (See all Heritage in London) Currently, the Jewel Tower is managed by English Heritage, receiving around 30,000 visitors a year.
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WHAT TO KNOW AT THE JEWEL TOWER
To help better understand the tower, see the Jewel Tower map in this link. There are currently a few picnic tables outside, but there are no restrooms in the area. On the two upper floors are exhibits with artifacts such as clothing, an Anglo-Saxon sword, historical weights of measurement, among others. The only way to access the upper floors is via a spiral staircase with around 40 steps.
- GROUND FLOOR: It comprises a small rectangular room and a small room with restricted access. The roof has reinforcing vaults. There is a super small Café right next to the ticket office. On the ground floor, a small selection of products related to the history of the tower is also sold.
- FIRST FLOOR: This floor was significantly altered in the early 18th century. The wall between the two rooms is in brick, replacing a medieval wooden wall. The entrance to the tower room is an iron door dated 1621. On this floor is the exhibition “Parliament Past and Present”, which depicts facts about the history of the British Parliament.
- SECOND FLOOR: The highest floor was the safest part of the tower in the Middle Ages, protected by double doors. The oak roofs of both rooms were almost entirely replaced following firebomb damage during World War II, although a small number of the original medieval woodwork remains. The fireplace and all the windows on this floor are all medieval. There are panels telling the story of this small but important building that is the Jewel Tower.
ECONOMY IN LONDON: ACTIVITY CARDS
For those who want to do many things and visit many paid places in London, the suggestion is to purchase one of the cards that give you direct access to attractions and ride the tourist bus, saving a lot! O THE LONDON PASS is the most famous of them. The card can be purchased in versions of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 10 days. It entitles you to admission to over 60 of London's top attractions and 1 day tour on the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus. In addition, the card offers more than 20 exclusive special offers at some of the city's shops and restaurants. See the full list of included attractions in this link. Price: from £69.
HOW TO GET
The closest subway stations to Jewel Tower are:
- Westminster: served by Jubilee Line (Grey), District Line (green) and circle line (Yellow)
- St. James's Park: serviced by District Line (green) and circle line (Yellow)
- Address: Abingdon St, Westminster SW1P 3JX, London
- November to March: Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm
- April to October: daily from 10 am to 6 pm
- Entrance: £4.70
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Read more about nearby attractions:
- London: UK Parliament Tour
- London: Historic Westminster Abbey
- London: British Cavalry Museum and Changing of the Guard
- London: Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
- London: How to Visit Buckingham Palace
Read about historic buildings destroyed by fire in London: