A Slice of History on our Doorstep

It is very easy to take the things that are on your doorstep for granted. Although central London and all it has to offer in terms of history, culture and entertainment is only a short train ride away, there are still many places we haven’t taken the kids to see. Yesterday we decided to play tourists in our own city and visit the Tower of London as a family. I last went there as a 12-year-old on a school trip but the kids had never been and, amazingly, neither had my husband despite being born and bred in this country.

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I have lived in or around London for most of my adult life and I love this city from the bottom of my heart in all its grimy, often chaotic, but always beautiful, glory. In my eyes, what makes it so special is the way traditional and modern are juxtaposed in a way that somehow seems completely seamless. While London pushes the boundaries in edgy fashion and is at the forefront of the music scene, much of the city is still steeped in tradition, from the doormen at old school establishments like Claridges to the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. These contrasts perhaps come through most clearly in the architecture: yesterday we saw the ancient and magnificent Tower of London standing only a stone’s throw away from the glass covered ultra-modern wonder that is the Shard.

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Brimming with history, much of it dark and disturbing, the Tower of London is a must-see for every tourist visiting the city. As we picked a beautiful, sunny day in the Easter holidays to visit, the place was fairly busy and the queues for the Crown Jewels and the Bloody Tower (where prisoners were held and tortured) were too long for us to contemplate standing in with the children. But I’m sure we will back again to see the bits that we missed, although to beat the crowds, next time we may choose a rainy day in November!

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