Castle next to Tower Bridge
The Tower of London was founded by William I immediately after the Norman Conquest in 1066.
It was strategically sited in the south-east angle of the Roman city wall, just downstream from Old London Bridge, commanding open countryside to the east, the Thames and the bridge to the south, and the city to the north and west.
By the end of the 13th century the outer wall enclosed an area of around 7 ha, which is roughly the present size of the castle. The Tower of London is one of the most important landmarks of England’s capital.
History of the Tower of London
In London on Christmas Day in the year 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England. William wanted power. He began building castles everywhere in his kingdom, especially in the main city of London.
Twelve years later, in 1078, William ordered one castle replaced with a great stone stronghold. This fort stood in the southeastern corner of London. The castle was huge. It became a symbol of William's power. It was a fortress for his defense, a palace in which to live, and a prison for his enemies. It was named the Tower of London.
The first structure built within the castle was the keep. A "keep" is the strongest and most secure tower. The first keep was called the White Tower. The Tower was finished twenty years later during the reign of William Rufus, William's third son. It was nearly 100 feet tall with walls fifteen feet thick. The Tower contained a chapel, apartments, guardrooms, and crypts (underground burial chambers). It was surrounded and protected by a wide ditch, a new stone wall, an old Roman wall, and the Thames River.
Rannulf Flambard was the Tower's first important prisoner. King Henry I dragged Rannulf, the fat and greedy Bishop, along with his servants and bags of money, to the Tower. Henry wanted him to suffer. However, Rannulf had lots of money, so he bribed his captors with gold and lived quite well in the Tower. One night in February 1101, Rannulf threw a party. After the guards became quite drunk, he sneaked out a window and slid down a rope outside an outer wall to freedom.