London Drum

Twilight Tour — See the Tower of London at night

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Tower Twilight Tour
Where? Tower of London, Tower Hill When? 1st October to 10th December 2023 7 PM Tickets? £30 (not suitable for children under the age of 12) See Note: The tour takes place on uneven cobbles and up spiral staircases, and will not include the Crown Jewels, or go inside of any of the main towers Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Tower Hill Circle District Other nearby stations: Aldgate and Tower Gateway Train fares

Craig’s review… I'm sitting on a wet bench waiting for the Tower of London Twilight Tour to start. This part of London is always empty at this time of night and you can linger along the waterfront and not see a soul for five minutes. All of the office lights are glowing over the other side of the river because that's where all the life is. People are still working over there -- I can see them moving in their rooms.

If I hadn't been on this tour before then I'd probably be a bit worried because the gift shop is all locked up and the ticket booths are boarded up as well, but you just have to be patient and wait. The Tower has been here for a thousand years and it won't be rushed. Eventually a Yeoman Warder comes along and gathers us all up and I'm trying to count how many people are in our group. I'm guessing that there are probably about fifty people tonight.

Skip forward in time... the tour has ended now (I couldn't really write anything in the dark), and it was pretty much identical to the Yeoman Warder Tour that you can do during the day, but with a couple of bonuses thrown in. For starters, you actually get to see inside a few of the towers. You can't do that on the Yeoman Warder Tour because the crowds are too huge, but on the Twilight Tour they're much more manageable. But the bigger bonus is the dark. The Tower is totally deserted at this time of night so it's literally just the Yeoman Warder and you. What low lights they do have are of the sodium glow-variety, barely reflecting in the puddles on the pavement, so you really get a sense of how it must have felt when it was still a fortress.

Traitor's Gate & St Thomas's Tower

The tour kicked off by the Byward Tower where he spent ten minutes telling us about the history of the fortress from Norman times right up to the building of the moat. The cold wind kept him talking at quite a pace so he could get us all moving before we froze to death, then he marched us up to Traitor's Gate and took us inside St. Thomas's Tower.

It was in here that we got to see Edward III's royal quarters, and the exact spot where Henry VI was murdered. Then we climbed up some winding stone stairs to the Wakefield Tower and along an elevated walkway to the Lanthorn Tower. I particularly enjoyed this bit because you get a fantastic view of the White Tower and Tower Bridge all lit up in floodlights.

Then it was back down to ground level for a walk around the armouries building and hospital block, where our guide proudly pointed out the curtained window where he lived (I will happily admit to a pang of jealously).

Waterloo Barracks & Tower Green

He skirted around the side of the White Tower now, and past the Waterloo Barracks where the Crown Jewels are kept. Unfortunately we didn't get to go inside either of them, and that is why I definitely recommend coming back during the day because you'll be missing out on two of the highlights otherwise. Then we saw Tower Green and the execution spot where Henry VIII chopped off his enemies' heads. The Yeoman Warder gave another good talk here about all the gruesome beheadings and gory deaths, and he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself... a bit too much. I'm just glad that he didn't have an axe handy because he might have been tempted to demonstrate the deaths on one of us.

The Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula

After that came my favourite bit: the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. This place is only accessible on one of these Yeoman Warder Tours or during a Sunday service, and it's definitely worth seeing inside. It's not the room that makes it memorable but what they've got buried under the floor, because this is where the headless bodies of Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey and the Earl of Essex ended up.

And that's it. After that he walks you back to the Byward Tower and boots you out.

So is it worth doing? Well, if I'm being totally honest then I think I prefer just visiting during the day because the Twilight Tour is basically the same as a Yeoman Warder Tour, but if you go during the daytime then you'll also get to see inside the White Tower, the Bloody Tower, plus all the other towers, and see the Crown Jewels as well... not to mention all of the gift shops and restaurants, which are closed up at night.

As atmospheric as the Twilight Tour is, it just didn't give me the goosebumps in the same way that the Ceremony of the Keys did. So my advice to you is this: go during the day, do a Yeoman Warder Tour, and also apply for some tickets to see the Ceremony of the Keys. Then you'll be getting the best out of the Tower.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy Tower of London then you might like to visit Hampton Court Palace, Tower Hill (you can walk it in less than 2 mins) and Windsor Castle. There are plenty more things to do at the Tower of London, like the Ceremony of the Keys and Sunday service at the Chapel Royal

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

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Your comments and questions

c latham Do these tours run all year long

Craig Hi C Latham. No, they're usually just once a week throughout the winter, after the clocks go back. I suppose it wouldn't be dark enough if they did it during the summer

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