There is so much history centered in and around the famous walls of the Tower of London, the imposing fortress that sits in the River Thames in the heart of London. Existing for almost a millennia, stories (and secrets) from the Tower could fill a proper Oxford English Dictionary (and I’m talking the multi-volume kind). But for an hour-long introduction, this “Secrets of” episode shares some of the juicier and more curious bits.
The Tudor-era alone can fill a whole series in itself, so a show like this briefly rushes through various prisoners and beheadings. If you are looking for rich history of royals, you won’t find it here. Instead, the special works best when sharing odd tidbits, like the refurbishing of the historic suits of armor, that aren’t necessarily historically accurate to the kings that supposedly wore them; or like how there was an exotic menagerie of animals (kept in the moat) that was a tourist attraction for six centuries.
It is fun to get a peek into the apartment of the Chief of the Yeoman Warders (also known as the Beefeaters). The Beefeaters appointed to the Tower actually live IN the Tower. If you think upgrades to your 100-year-old apartment building are clunky, at least you don’t have a centuries-old door for your awkwardly modernized apartment entry (considering your room used to house prisoners). There is also a tour of the Yeoman Warder’s Club, where each of the Beefeaters has their own goblet on a shelf for a secret ceremony.
My favorite part of this special was a peek inside the hydraulic system of the Tower Bridge, which was built in 1880 in a style to match the medieval theme of the fortress nearby. The drawbridge still operates using the original counterbalance engineering from the Victorian era. Now THAT was a secret that I haven’t seen explored elsewhere. Perhaps there should be a “Secrets of Tower Bridge” episode next!