ACA Woking News by Paul Holden, PRO

20 July 2004


Speaker Colin Smith MBE BEM in working uniform
as a Yeoman Warder of the Tower of London
with Branch Chairman Eric Smith GM
In preparation for a forthcoming visit to the Tower of London to watch at close hand the Ceremony of the Keys, Yeoman Warder Colin Smith MBE BEM, who retired from the RAF as a Warrant Officer after 31 years service, gave members an introduction to the history of the Tower.

The Tower was instituted by William the Conqueror, and was first built between 1078 and 1098. The inner wall was completed in 1220, with 13 towers, and the moat was drained in 1843 to provide 18 acres of land. Over the years it has been used as a Mint and a Royal Armoury, as an Observatory, and as the most famous Prison in the land. Sir Walter Raleigh was one of the early prisoners; and Rudolf Hess one of the later prisoners there, in May 1941, before he was convicted of war crimes and moved to Spandau to serve his sentence. There have been 1500 Executions on Tower Hill, the first in 1381 and the last in 1747. All the victims were buried in and around the Chapel, in order that they could not become martyrs.

The minimum requirements to become a Warder are 21 years in one of the services, and a Good Conduct medal. They are all trained in First Aid, to attend to accidents. Their red uniforms cost 8,000 each, but their Tudor bonnets are only worn when Royalty is present. Their everyday uniform comes in three weights. 42 families live in the Tower, and it is estimated that three million visitors a year are foreign Nationals.

Back to top of page