Monday, 10 March 2008

Pecking Ravens, Proud Grandkid & (more) Pesky Stairs

What would you know – another meat eating, male Beefeater! Well, I’m not certain he was a meat eater but he was definitely a man. He asked if he could help me so I took the opportunity to ask about another matter on my mind.

My late grandfather was stationed at the Tower of London during World War I and, sadly, I know very little more than that. The Beefeater I spoke to told me as much as he could without knowing his rank or regiment. He told me there was a high chance my Grandad would have lived in the Waterloo Barracks (seen behind the soldiers in yesterday’s photo) but if I can find out more detail they’d be able to tell me precisely which garrison he was in.

The only other piece of information I had was that he was honourably discharged due to meningitis so my very friendly Beefeater walked me round to the Old Hospital Block (pictured left) where my Grandad would have spent his last days at the Tower of London before returning home.

I felt quite touched to know that my Grandad was stationed here nearly 100 years ago and very proud that he did his part for King and Country.

Rather than start climbing stairs again I walked round to see where the Ravens spend their days. These massive proud birds are a famous feature of the Tower of London. During the recent bird flu scares, they were kept inside to protect them but the risk must be over as I saw three in the Raven “area”, one in a large aviary and had earlier seen two demolishing Tower Green! So I counted six but I’m not sure how many currently reside at the Tower. Legend says that there must be a minimum of six Ravens and if they all disappear/die/go on holiday/escape then the Tower will crumble and the Kingdom will fall. As a precaution, their wings are trimmed to stop them flying away and they are looked after by the Yeoman Raven Master (what a title!) who feeds them a diet of raw meat, raw eggs and an occasional dead rabbit! There are several signs warning that the Ravens may bite, but they seemed more interested in pecking at the medieval ruins than the tourists!

Having decided to leave the Crown Jewels until last, I knew I should make my way up and down the various other towers I hadn’t visited. I admit I didn’t manage all of them and those that I did see consisted largely of many stairs going up, one room, a small exhibit or piece of information and more stairs back down again. From my distinct lack of notes I realise that there isn’t anything very interesting to tell you about these less famous towers. I know that sounds awful but my interest in history is limited and I need quite a lot of visual stimulation to keep my attention! I think, had I not been alone, I may have been more fascinated by the minutiae. But with only one London Pass there can be only one opinion so at least I am being honest and not influenced by someone else’s thoughts.

Still to come... some lovely sparkly diamonds and my encounter with a beardless figure wearing black and red!

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