Royal Lodgings at The Tower of London 1216-1327

by Simon Thurley
Royal Lodgings at The Tower of London 1216-1327
Simon Thurley
Architectural History
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Royal Lodgings at The Tower of London 121&1327


One of the factors which has increasingly come to dominate any discussion of royal residences is the fact that there was a considerable specialization in function between them. Particular residences were used for specific purposes -those purposes may have been influenced by their geographical location, their physical arrangement or merely the monarch's preferences. The purpose ofthis paper is to examine the royal lodgings at the Tower of London as used between 1216 and 1327 in exactly this way. It is an attempt to analyze the function of a residence and how that function -a highly specialized one -affected the form of the buildings and the timing of their construction.

The documentary record available for this analysis has recently been augmented by a wide-ranging archaeological examination of the surviving buildings (1965-69, 196773, 1976-77 and 1991-92) and the work of social and political historians studying the reigns of Henry 111, Edward I and Edward 11. A synthesis of this material advances our knowledge considerably beyond the point reached in 1963 by The History of the King's Works and places a different emphasis on the development of the Tower of London and its use in the thirteenth century.

Questions as to precisely where the Norman and early Plantagenet kings stayed during periods of residence at the Tower of London are not easy to answer, yet it is likely that from the start the fortress provided royal residential accommodation not only in the White Tower but also in 'houses' in the inner bailey of the fortress. Indeed, references to these structures start as early as I 171-72l although no comment can be made as to their form. Certainly by the start of the reign of Henry 111, residential accommodation in the inner bailey was being developed, possibly at the expense of royal accommodation elsewhere and it is on this that this paper concentrates.

The period of Tower history covered by this analysis is dominated by the rising power of the City of London whose influence was a crucial factor in political events sometimes acting as a catalyst, other times as a driving force. The Tower of London itself held a central place in this. It was not only a symbol of royal authority but was a rallying point for opposition to that authority. During the rebellions both of Simon de Montfort in 1263and of Mortimer and Isabella in I 327, the City and the Tower played a crucial role. Throughout the whole period 1216to 1327, royal visits to the Tower were almost always connected with either shows ofauthority or a need for a safe haven. The royal lodgings, built by Henry 111, his son and his grandson, thus were both a refuge


and a projection of royal power: as such they had to be magnificent and strong, they needed to impress with their strength externally and their magnificence internally and this is precisely what they did.

Before 1234, Henry 111's works at the Tower laid out the bones of the royal lodgings in the innermost ward. The king's regents acting from about 1220 began the construction of new chambers for the king and a future queen and after 1230, possibly more off his own bat, Henry 111 made significant improvements to the great hall and kitchen.

The first important works on the royal lodgings date from about 1220 when it was decided to construct two new towers, one large and one small. The large one was almost certainly the present Wakefield Tower and the small one the tower on the site of the present Lanthorn Tower, the original structure having been demolished in 1776.

Originally it was hoped to complete the large tower in a campaign during 1226 but although the small tower was almost certainly finished within the year, lead being laid on its roof during 122s-26,2 the builders seem to have failed to complete the large tower. The Wakefield Tower (originally called after John de Blundeville during whose constableship of the Tower it was begun) was started in a quadrant ditch. To its north, a curtain wall running northwards was begun, on its east the foundations ofa rectangular building with a postern and spiral stair were laid and to its west a gateway with short lengths of revetment wall upon which the east and west walls of the Bloody Tower gatehouse were later to be built.3 (Fig. I)

Gaps in the extant building accounts leave the precise course of the works far from clear. In 1230 work was undertaken on a kitchen, and during 1232-33 on the king's hall (Aula Regi~).~

Notwithstanding the relative paucity of evidence, clearly the emphasis in this phase was domestic. There was a determined effort to create suitably commo- dious and up-to-date royal lodgings in the Tower which for nearly two centuries had been the kingdom's principal fortress. The lodgings would now begin to rival those at the king's other residences such as Winchester, Clarendon and Windsor.

Although Henry's personal movements are open to differing interpretations and his precise itinerary has yet to be established, the king is known to have put his new accommodation at the Tower to use in April 1236. The circumstances ofthis unplanned visit are described by the chronicler Matthew Paris. The king had summoned a meeting, described as a 'colloquium' of the magnates in London to discuss the kingdom's business, but growing discontent at his unabashed favouritism of his Savoyard kin led him to alter the original arrangements:

On the first day of the colloquium he withdrew into the Tower of London: to many in this matter he gave great cause for murmuring, and signs auguring worse than better. And the magnates would not go to the Tower to the king fearing that he acting without much thought would vent his rage on them. . . However, the king calmed by further reflection came from the Tower to his palace [i.e., Westminster], there more suitably to discuss with them the pressing business.

The significance of Matthew Paris's account for us is threefold: that Henry regarded the Tower as a sufficiently safe refuge for him at a time of growing unpopularity; that


Tk Whm Tacr

A: Main Waterpate

Fig. I, The Royal LorigiMgs oiHenvy III Phase I

his reason for withdrawal there was open to suspicion; and that the magnates refused to attend the Tower for fear that it might be a trap.

Two years later, another political crisis resulted in another sojourn in the Tower for Henry. In January 1238 the king's sister, Eleanor, married Simon de Montfort in secret at Westminster. The magnates, angered at the king's failure to consult them about his sister's marriage, the lack of customary magnificence and the breaking of Eleanor's vow of chastity, took arms and Henry was forced to take refuge at the Tower where he remained for a month when, under pressure from the papal legate, he came to agreement with the discontented barons.

This stay, unlike his brief residence two years earlier, was a busy one and two points must have impressed themselves upon the king. First, the defences of the Tower were grossly inadequate, the fortress was outdated and insecure, not just against foreign invaders but also against his own troublesome and aggressive subjects; and secondly, his own quarters were unfinished. Both these problems were immediately rectified.

Between 1238/39 and 1241, over £5,000was spent on improvements.' The new defensive works evidently focused on a new gate described by Matthew Paris as 'noble' with its forewalls and bulwarks (ante muralibus et propugnaculis) and the construction of a (now the inner) curtain wall with mural towers, including the start of work on the


Thc White imcr

Fig 3. Tlle Royal Lo&tng\ Hrr~ry of III Pha~eI1

damaged by the development of the fortress. l3But it was the threat to civic indepen- dence and the assertion of royal might symbolized by this building campaign which gave rise to concern. On ~3rd April 1240 when the foundations of the new gateway failed causing the building to collapse, the city was delighted and the Londoners' own guardian saint, St Thomas i Becket, was accredited with preserving them from an unjust assertion of royal power. l4

The skirmish with baronial power which had caused Henry 111's retreat and subsequent fortification of the Tower in 1238 flared up again in a much more serious form in 1258 when Henry was forced to agree to reforms which seriously curtailed his powers -the provisions of Oxford. One of the many distasteful aspects of this, from the king's point of view, was the surrender of certain royal fortresses, and the Tower was given into the charge of Hugh Le Bigod, one of the key magnates involved in the imposition of the provisions. l5

From the imposition of the provisions Henry realized that the only way that he could overthrow them was by force, and it seems that he saw the Tower of London as a critical element in his plan to do so.16 In November 1259 Henry went to France and as baronial disunity reigned in London he ordered the fortification of the Tower1' to which he returned secretly the following April. On arrival he must have found a building site there as work was well underway to extend the western curtain wall northwards to end in a twin-towered gatehouse on the western side of the White Tower -a gatehouse, which, as the Coldharbour Gate, was eventually to form the principal landward entrance to the inner These works, costing over &~,ooo, effectively


completed the walled circuit of the inmost ward, the part of the fortress designed for royal residential occupation.

In February 1261, Henry attempted to summon a 'parliamentum' at the Tower, but as in 1236 the magnates insisted that Westminster was more suitable for such a meeting. Two months later he kept Easter in some state at the Tower. In May, the provisions seriously weakened, he named an adherent, John Mansell, to the Constableship of the Tower, and in June the provisions were formally rejected.19

The events of 1236, 123 8 and 1258-61 illustrate clearly the use to which Henry I11 put the Tower. During the course of these events the king's lodgings at the Tower and its defences were improved considerably.

Henry 111's works on his residence were extensive and important but later buildings and alterations very soon after his death have obscured the simplicity, symmetry and magnificence of his conception. The great hall was the geographical, social and architectural centre of the scheme. Little evidence survives as to its form -a miniature showing it from the south dating from 1500 (Fig. 2) and a drawing by Hollar of the 1660s are the most helpful. By I 597 it was in a state oftotal decay without a roof (Fig. 5)and by the time a detailed plan shows it in 173 I many alterations had taken place.20 However it appears to have been an aisled hall measuring about 7oft square and smallel than but not dissimilar to Henry's halls at Winchester and Clarendon. On its south was a low gallery overlooking the river with a series of 4 windows. The upper part of the hall itself towered over the gallery with 4 clerestorey windows (Fig. 4).

Henry 111's and Eleanor of Provence's lodgings were situated at opposite ends of the Great Hall, the king's being at the western end. To the east was the queen's tower, 3storeys high.21 This had a vaulted basement, above which rose two magnificent chambers placed one above the other. Attached on the west was a two-storey rectangular block containing a single chamber on each floor. The king's lodgings on the west were probably originally intended to be a larger and more glamorous version of the queen's, the Wakefield Tower probably originally planned to be a storey higher (Fig. 4). This can only be conjecture, but the lack of a vault in the upper Wakefield, its shortness compared with the Queen's tower and the fact that the hall block was significantly taller all point to an incomplete structure. Additionally, there is evidence from Edward 1's reign that measures were taken to even up the heights of the two towers.22

Determining the use of particular buildings in the thirteenth century is not easy. Not only is the extant evidence imprecise, but contemporary usage as to name and purpose was adaptable and flexible. What can be said about Henry 111's lodgings at the Tower has to be pieced together from fragments of evidence, comparison elsewhere and conjecture. However, it does seem fairly certain that the king's great chamber was on the first floor of the Wakefield Tower and to the east of it was the king's hall (Fig. 6).The foundations of the latter were excavated in 1970 and again in 1993.~~

The lower courses survived including the threshold of the king's postern and behind it the first treads of a oft-diameter stair which must have given on to a small lobby between the hall and great chamber at first floor level (Figs 6 & 7). The remains of the hall were demolished in 1737, and unfortunately no record of its interior seems to have been made. 24




















- p D























Tower once more and exacted vengeance on the City. For the next three years, London succumbed to a period of extreme disorder during which the citizens contested their rights against the king and foreign merchants. The climax ofthis period came when the Earl of Gloucester laid siege to the Tower trapping the king's supporters there for almost two months. Although the king successfully revictualled the fortress at night and conveyed the papal legate to safety, he had to raise a huge mercenary force to break the siege and to turn the tables against the besiegers.28

The siege of 1268 demonstrated the soundness of the recent defensive improvements undertaken by Henry 111 at the Tower. But if the king had hoped his strengthening of the fortress would serve to exert his royal authority over the capital, the political turmoil of the decade revealed the insufficiency of both the hope and the design.

Edward 1's determination to maintain his monarchial grip over his domains in England and France and his warfaring in Wales and Scotland left him little time to spend at the Tower. He was a less frequent visitor than his father. His first stay there in October 1274 lasted a week and occurred on the eve of his coronation. This visit began a tradition that was to last 300 years whereby monarchs habitually spent the night before their coronation at the Tower. In preparation for his residence, the royal works undertook maintenance and repair.29 Presumably the king took advantage of the occasion to review both the defences and residential accommodation at the fortress1 palace. Bearing in mind the unresolved difficulties between the Crown and London as well as recent political events and considering the existing state of work at the Tower, he sanctioned an ambitious programme of building works, costing over £21,000.~~ This programme extended over ten years from 1275. Yet despite this enormous investment, Edward was a rare visitor. He paid an interrupted visit to the Tower in November 1275 not long after the start of work there. He stopped off there twice for one day each in July 1276 and April I277 and following the completion of his new lodgings, he spent nearly two weeks there at Epiphany 1278 and made two brief visits later in the same year. After a short visit in January 1280, he was not to return for ten years. His visits in the early 1290s were not only infrequent but brief, with the single exception of a week-long stay in November 1294. After an interval offive years, his last short visit was made in October 1299. 31

The Edwardian building campaign at the Tower had three clear objectives. First to convert the Tower into a concentric castle by completing the inner ward between the Devereux and Bell Towers, excavating a new moat and the formation of a new outer ward. Secondly, to replace the 'noble' gate which had given Henry 111 and his builders so much trouble by two new entrances, a landward one on the west and a Watergate on the south. Thirdly, to provide residential accommodation for the king.

The decision to construct an outer ward had implications for the chambers created by Henry 111 in the Wakefield Tower. Hitherto the Wakefield Tower had provided residential quarters in an imposing structure overlooking the river Thames. Now, it was divided from the river by a new low outer curtain wall, and the gap between this new wall and the earlier riverside wall was filledin to form the new narrow outer ward.


w C: Bloody Tower
  D: Wakefield Tower
  E: Kitchen
Fig. 8. The Royal Lodgings of Edwavd I   F: G: Great Hall Lanthorn Tower

A new building housing a watergate was constructed to replace both the earlier main Watergate, which survived in modified usage as the Bloody Tower, and the king's own private riverside postern beside the Wakefield Tower, today excavated and visible but rendered useless as a waterside postern by the construction of the outer ward (Fig. 8).This building came to be known as St Thomas (A Becket)'~ Tower and incorporated a great water gate which led, via a basin, to the Bloody Tower which now became the entrance gate to the inner ward of the fortress, it also incorporated a small postern described as 'the new postern under the great chamber of the king'32 which gave access toa new hall and great chamber in the Watergate above. The evidence for the location of this postern can be found on the earliest detailed plans of St Thomas's Tower (Fig. II) and on later views. It was a w oft wide archway in the western flank wall of the basin defended by at least one portcullis, possibly two, for three were installed in the tower and are mentioned in the accounts.

Work on the construction of St Thomas's Tower began in 1275, the pipe roll describing it as 'the hall (aula) with chamber (camera) above the gate over against the river Thame~'.~~

Edward was anxious to make swift progress, for in January 1276 he was already pressing for its completion; about the same time he authorized oaks to be transferred from Windsor and more money was disbursed. 34 The overall structure was of stone but it was divided internally into two or probably three rooms by timber partition^.^^ One of these, we learn, was by the king's bed.36 We know that '34


movable windows', 'benches' and 'four great tables' were provided. The movable or opening casements were 'glazed with images' and finer embellishments included 'tile for paving the new chamber' and 'images in stone carved against the Great Chamber over against the Thames now painted with col~urs'.~~

A miniature also shows gilded grills over the Thames side windows (Fig. 2).

Access to the king's new lodgings was via either the postern in St Thomas's basin (the exact configuration of which is unclear) or, when the king was using the Great Hall, from the Wakefield Tower (Fig. 10).The latter route was made possible by forming a walk on top of the east flank wall of St Thomas's basin which ran from the Wakefield Tower to the north-east corner of St Thomas's Tower. To give access to the Wall Walk, a doorway was carefully cut into the Wakefield Tower.38

Very little of the original interior of St Thomas's Tower survived to be recorded in the investigations of 1991-92. In 1532 it appears that Henry VIII gutted the medieval timber-framed internal divisions which had survived until then to make lodgings for the Earl of Oxford and Lord Sandys. Only the three other walls and the great arch survived of the Edwardian work.39 Later alterations included the conversion of the medieval windows into Georgian sashes in 173 5 and their subsequent replacement with gothic revival stone casements by Anthony Salvin in 1869. The original fireplaces had also been removed sometime between 1735 and 1866.~~

The dimensions of the Tower have also been reduced as joiners employed by Henry VIII rebuilt the timber-framed north wall immediately over the arch of the Watergate and not as originally 3ft to its north to align with the stonework of the projecting wings (Figs. 9 &. 10). This alignment was perpetuated hy Salvin when the work of the I530s was restored.

As a result of the Tudor alterations, St Thomas's Tower's present internal divisions bear no relation to the original ones. However, it is clear from the documentary record that there were two main rooms and an enclosure for the portcullis which secured the principal archway beneath.41 As with the surviving portcullis in the Byward Tower and that in the gatehouse at Harlech Castle, the mechanism was within an enclosure in the principal chamber itself. To prevent any unnecessary inconvenience to the king or the occupant of the rooms by raising the portcullis when the rooms were occupied, a postern was built for his use and carefully set-down regulations governed the operation of the mechanism.42

Notwithstanding the Tudor and later alterations, the function of the original rooms can be deduced from the position of a garderobe in the western half of the Tower. Following standard medieval practice, this would normally be found adjacent to, or within, the king's great chamber. Thus Edward 1's great chamber was in the western part of St Thomas's Tower, his hall in the east (Fig. 10).

Both the hall and great chamber were provided with great hooded fireplaces of stone, the back walls of which survive embedded in the south wall. Either side of the hood are the scars of deeply undercut carved stone lamp brackets. A record of the side elevation of the fireplace hood in the great chamber can be found on the survey of 173 5(Fig. I I). The king's oratory, 'a little chapel above the water', for which an altar was supplied, was in the south-east turret: its piscina and aumbry survive in the window sills. Such oratories always accompany high-class suites of rooms, such as those found at Harlech




Castle gatehouse, Hawarden Castle, Chepstow Castle (second floor Martens Tower) and Caernarvon Castle (Eagle, Queen's, Chamberlain's, Black and Well Towers).43

The south-west turret houses another vaulted chamber, which was probably a small closet or strongroom for the king's personal use. Beside this turret chamber, in the west wall, was the king's garderobe. Its layout is known from the 1735 survey (Fig. 11) which is borne out by the remnants ofpart ofits shaft, its back wall and cut-back lintels which would have formed its ceiling.

St Thomas's Tower housed Edward 1's personal quarters. But the speed and determination with which it was built suggest that the king never forgot the crucial part played by Londoners in the political turmoil of his father's reign nor would he forget the threat they posed through his own reign. As Michael Prestwich puts it: 'Urban judicial privileges and rights of self-government did not accord well with the king's concepts of his authority.' It is perhaps not a coincidence that in 1285, the year that his radical strengthening ofhis fortress came to an end, he sent John de Kirkby and a special commission of judges to the Tower to investigate public order. Gregory de Rokesle resigned his office of mayor before entering the Tower, but his objections at the unconstitutional nature of the proceedings only provoked Kirkby to seize the City into the crown's hands, the mayoralty not being restored for fourteen years in which time alien merchants were given fuller rights, the legal system of London was brought into greater conformity with the rest ofthe kingdom and the City became more amenable to crown intervention than hitherto.44 The king's building programme at the Tower has every appearance of a larger design to bring the capital to heel.

EDWARD I1 (I 307-27) Following the death of Edward I in July 1307, his son Edward I1 returned from the Scottish marches in October and paid his first visit, as king, to the Tower of London. Edward married Isabella of France in Boulogne in January I 308, and the new husband and wife had travelled by stages to the Tower, arriving on 21February. It was from the Tower, following the precedent set by his father, that Edward I1 went to his coronation on 25 February 1308.~~ These two visits seem to have drawn Edward 11's attention to certain salient points about the Tower. First he needed the Tower as a safe haven given the resurgence of baronial discontent following his father's death. Second, the defences of the Tower were evidently in an incomplete state after the halt in his father's work in 1285. On 19 March I 308, while Edward was still at Westminster after his coronation, theorder was given to make 'and work in iron portcullises and to fortify and heighten drawbridges and turrets, and to make abattlement with a ridge inside the palisade above the walls of the castle; to clean and repair the wells in that tower and make for the fortification of the said tower hand mills and siege engines. . . and to keep various stables there for the war-horses ofthe king and other great horses for the arms of the king and the Lord Piers Gaveston. . . because at that time peace between the king and the earls was despaired of and so then the works were being carried out with great haste. . .'46 Although none of these measures are precisely identified, they indicate a general heightening of walls and towers some left only partially complete by Edward I. These works, commissioned so


early in Edward's reign, show the concern with which the king regarded his ability to fortify the Tower of London against possible opponents. This was to be the theme of his reign.

Edward was largely absent from the Tower between 1308 and 1321. But in I321 came important events. The Hugh de Spencers, father and son, were now high in the king's favour and apparently on their advice he resumed Edward 1's policy of forcing the City to accept royal authority. The iter -or visitation ofjustices in eyre -of I 321 headed by Hervey de Stanton ran for over twenty-four weeks, sat at the Tower and investigated every franchise in London.4' Like the commission of 1285, this visitation only succeeded in reinforcing the capital's distrust of the crown and its outrage against the de Spencers. The successful military reaction of the marcher lords against the cupidity of the de Spencers in South Wales and the ensuing demand for their legal condemnation and destruction forced Edward I1 to take refuge in the Tower for a week early in July: during this enforced visit Queen Isabella was delivered of their last child, Joan, appropriately suffixed 'of the Tower' after her birthplace. He was to spend a few days there late in September, and following the denial of entry by Isabella to Leeds Castle, he returned in October to organize the investment and capture of Leeds. The events of1321 clearly show the king's use of The Tower as a base for power and as a refuge from his baronage. 48

In April 1323 Edward I1 returned briefly to the Tower on his way from Kent to Yorkshire. His visits a year later were routine, a change from Westminster (May) or stages on progress elsewhere (June, November), but were made against the back- ground of reinvigorated resentment against the de Spencers father and son, the breakdown of his marriage and war with France. A reconciliation between king and queen preluded a month long stay in February and March 1325, at the end of which Isabella left to negotiate peace with France, but once there she became enamoured of Roger Mortimer, whose escape from the Tower, facilitated by two prominent Londoners, in the summer of 1323 after 18 months' captivity severely worried the king and revealed irregularities in the administration of the Tower.49 This misalliance and a threat of an organized invasion by the pair, supported by notable defectors ranging from the king's son, Edward, and the king's brother, the Earl of Kent, downwards, precipitated a crisis. In late May 1326, the chief civic dignitaries of London had an audience with the king in his great chamber at the Tower confirming clearly where the City's sympathies lay.50 Following this unwelcome confirmation 'Sir Hugh de Spencer the younger caused all the carpenters, masons and artists who were then in London and all round about to make on all the turrets and embrasures of the tower and at all the gates, barriers and wooden towers, of the strongest material that could be found in England, also engines and siege machines and other kinds of apparatus of great cost.'51 The work put in hand included the completion of the inner curtain wall where four towers were fortified and crenellated with stones2 and more importantly the attempted completion of the outer ward by building a more substantial wall between St Thomas's Tower and the Well Tower in the east. Payments were issued for 'the repair ofthe outer wall of the Tower of London over the Thames namely from the great gate over the water to the gate nearer the hospital mentioned [i.e., St Katherine's by the Tower] namely for demolishing that wall and rebuilding it broader and higher. 's3 The wall, we


learn, was 4~2'/2 feet long, the exact distance between the two towers (Fig. 12). The remains of this have recently been uncovered encased within later Victorian building. The demolition of the earlier thirteenth-century wall and its reconstruction in a more substantial manner brought to near completion the mural defences encircling the outer ward.

The concentric design of the Tower was finally realized by the erection of a new gate between the watergate and the Wakefield Tower (described on account ofits new usage as the 'tower with the king's wardrobe').S4 This new gate made in the eastern wall enclosing St Thomas's basin permitted -at last -circulation round the entire outer ward (Fig. 12). The late realization in the 1320s of what was evidently Edward 1's great design for the Tower provides a further clue as to the incomplete state in which he had left the project in 1285, and suggests not only that his new landward entrance from the City remained unfinished for 40 years but also that Henry 111's structurally flawed entrance perhaps remained in use throughout.

After a hurried mobilization of the county of Kent against invasion, the king returned to the Tower where in June he reconvened the same civic dignitaries to discuss the restoration of law and order in London, but Edward's demands were met with open hostility. He was at the Tower for ten days in June, a day in July and the eight days from 26 September. 55

This flurry of activity initially paid off as the first letter from Isabella and Mortimer to Londoners asking for help in destroying 'the enemies ofthe land' met with no response; but following the publication of their second letter at Charing Cross the king's nerve broke and on 2 October he fled westward, leaving behind in the Tower his younger son, John of Eltham. On the I 5, a London mob rose in favour of Isabella and Mortimer, massacred the king's supporters and took the Tower by storm. A month later, Prince Edward as keeper of the realm announced the restoration of the City's franchi~e.~~

During Edward 11's several periods of residence at the Tower in 1326, he presumably occupied the royal lodgings, and the enrolled accounts of 1324-25 give important information regarding their location. The Wakefield Tower, formerly the king's great chamber, was now the 'Wardrobe Tower',57 and St Thomas's Tower was now the lodging of Hugh de Spen~er.~~

It also appears that the king was now lodging in and around the Lanthorn Tower to the east where a new postern had been introduced to facilitate access from the waterside (Fig. 12). 59

The conversion in use of Henry 111's former apartments in the Wakefield Tower for the Wardrobe reflected the pressing need of a department, which, to fulfil its basic function, had to travel with the king wherever he went, but also required a permanent base to expedite the production ofits accounts and to house its records. 60 Equally Hugh de Spencer's occupation of Edward 1's former apartments was consistent with his official position and his promotion of administrative reform. Precisely when the Wardrobe started to use the Tower as its record depository cannot be established but an assignment to settle specific royal debts issued in November 13 10on a bill of Wardrobe was, on cancellation, 'placed in a basket in the chest with the rolls in the Tower of London'. This reference, however, could be to Exchequer records stored in the Tower, whose disorder in August 1320 prompted a directive to reverse the ~ituation.~~

These changes in use of two sets of royal apartments were facilitated by the irretrievable


breakdown of Edward 11's marriage about the time of the birth of his second daughter Joan (born in the Tower on 5 July 1321) and the separation of the king and queen pending the annulment of their union. As a result, Isabella lost her quarters in the Tower and there is good reason to believe that Edward moved into his estranged wife's rooms -rooms that were likely to have been particularly attractive to him as they, unlike those in the Wakefield Tower, had been completed to their original magnificent design.

At his accession in January 1327, Edward 111 continued to use the rooms lately occupied by his father (but whether he had done so as keeper of the realm in the three preceding months is unknown), and his marriage on 28 January 1328 to Phillipa of Hainault does not seem to have led to any changes in this respect. In due course, Edward 111 (1327-77) created two new gates, one in the outer curtain wall and one in the inner. The outer gate, known today as the Cradle Tower and built between 1349 and 1355, was described as the new postern 'opposite the chamber of the king'62 (Fig. 12) and a watergate postern further east than Edward 11's postern of 1325. Opposite it, in the inner curtain wall between the present Lanthorn and Salt Towers was a second gate leading into the inner ward described as: 'The new gate between the chamber of the king and Balliol Tower'. The two gates were linked by a roadway built in 1376 (Fig. I 2).63 This roadway was the final stage in the evolution of the Plantagenet royal lodgings. The tower on the site of the present Lanthorn Tower housed Edward 111's own chamber, and the Cradle Tower provided the king with access to it.

The royal lodgings built by Henry 111 and modified by Edward I had a short existence. Used as a bolthole by both Henry 111 and Edward I1 and a base for the exercise of royal authority by Edward I, they fell into disuse after the opening years of the reign of Edward 11. This alteration was facilitated by the need for more space to accom- modate the bureaucratic developments of the crown under the Plantagenet kings, particularly of the Privy Wardrobe, which intruded even upon the royal lodgings. The Great Hall was used for the manufacture and storing of stone cannonballs, the queen's chamber housed chests of armour which had to be removed on the king's arrival.65

Edward 1's magnificent St Thomas's Tower was entirely taken over by the Privy Wardrobe and used for permanent storage.66 Some of these alterations reflected the changing needs of a peripatetic monarchy, long absences in the North or on the Continent, and a chronic shortage of space for the needs of the royal household and government, but the usage of the Tower by the king also changed. Edward 111's relations with the City were less strained than his forebears', and he had no need of a fortress as a refuge.67 There was but one exception when early in December 1340, the king used the Tower as a base to purge his administration following his return from the first stages of the Hundred Years War in the Netherlands. The City of London resisted an attempt to penalize it as a violation ofliberties 'allowed beyond the memory ofman', and instead a commission sat at the Tower to investigate the city officers. Edward 111 seems to have had a particular fondness for this building, and in some years (I 337, 133 8, I 341, I 3 5 I, I 3 54, for example) he spent a large proportion of the year there. It was the comfortable residential aspect of the Tower rather than its military strength which evidently appealed to him. Suddenly the fortress was being used for pleasure and not merely for political advantage or expediences. But this did not signify a geographical



return to the lodgings of Henry I11 and Edward I. Edward I11 occupied the lodgings originally built for Henry 111's consort, Queen Eleanor of Provence, and these buildings remained the king'slodgings at the Tower for two centuries until Elizabeth I abandoned the Tower as a royal residence.


All the work for this paper was financed by the Historic Royal Palaces Agency as part of its restoration of St Thomas's and the Wakefield Towers. The research was carried out by Alasdair Hawkyard who also extensively edited and checked the manuscript, Simon Bradley, Barbara Zeitler, Delia Gaze and Tabitha Barber under my direction.

The archaeological examination, on which the drawings are based, was masterminded by David Honour assisted by Jerry Samson and Derek Gadd who excavated the Watergate. Steve Wakley did the drawings.

Much of the material on Henry I11 is based on information supplied by Dr David Carpenter who, subsequent to the completion of this article, has published 'King Henry I11and the Tower of London', London Journal, 19(2), 1995, pp. 95-107, to which the reader is referred for a further discussion of this early period.

Kay Ford, my secretary, typed and retyped many drafts of this paper.


I Pke Roll 18Henry 11 (Pipe Roll Society XVIII, 1894), 144. 
2 PRO E372170 rot 13; Rot. Litt. Claus., 2 vols (Record Commission 1833-4), 11, 49, 115. 
3 P. Curnow, 'The Wakefield Tower, Tower of London, Ancient Monuments and their interpretation, Essayspresented 
to A. J. Taylor, ed. M. R. Apted, R. Gilyard-Beer and A. D. Saunders (London 1977)~ pp 16143, 171-73; G. 
Parnell, 'The Western Defences of the Inmost Ward, Tower of London', London and Middlesex Archaeological 
Society, xxx~v(1984), I 13-15, I 19; P. Curnow, 'The Bloody Tower', in The Tower ofLondon: its buildings and 
institutions, ed. J. Charlton, (London 1978), pp 55-57; Historic Royal Palaces archive (unpublished report) D. 
Gadd, 'The Excavation of a trench east of the Wakefield Tower, Tower of London 1992'. 
4 Cal. Close Rolls, 1231-34, pp. 77, 90, 109, 210; Cal Liberate Rolls, 1226-40, p. 166. 
5 Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, 6 vols. (Rolls Series I 872-83), 111, 362-63. 
6 Ibid., Chronica Majora, 11, 404-05; 111, 474-79. 
7 H. M. Colvin, ed., The History ofthe King's Works, 6 vols (London 1963-82), 11, 713. 
8 P. Curnow, op. cit., pp. 168-70. 
9 Cal. Liberate Rolls, 122640, pp. 3 15-16. 
10 Ibid., pp. 414. 453. 

11 Ibid.. pp. 352. 444, 453. 
12 Ibid., 124-45, p. 62. 
13 H. M. Colvin, ed., op. cit., 11, 712. 
I4 J. Bayley, The History and Antiquities ofthe Tower of London with biographical anecdotes, etc (London 1821), 
pp. 14-15; Matthew Paris, op. cit., IV, 93-94. 
15 J. Bailey, op. cit., p. 16. 

16 Flores Historiarum, ed., H.R. Luard, 3 vols (Rolls Series 189o), 11, 464. 17 G. Williams, Medieval London:jom Commerce to Capital, (London 1963), p. 45. 18 H. M. Colvin, ed., op. cit., 11, 713; G. Parnell, op.cit., pp. I IS, 117. 19 J. Bayley, op. cit., I, 18; CPR , 125846, p. 155. 20 PRO Works 311171, 182. 183. 21 Ibid. 22 P. Curnow, op, cit., p. 171; G. T. Clark, Medieval Military Architecture in England, 2 vols, (1884), 11, 222-23; PRO E372/125 rot.21. 23 P. Curnow, op. cit., pp. 16143,;D. Gadd, op. cit. 24 H. M. Colvin, op. cit., V, 383; PRO Works 6/16, pp. 546 25 G. Williams, (1963) op. cit., p. 217. 26 Ibid., p. 218.


27 Ibid., pp. 222-23, 23 I.

28 Ibid., pp. 239;J. Bayley, op. cit., pp. 22-24,

29 E. W. Safford, ed., Itinerary ofEdwardI, (List&IndexSociety, c111and CXXXII, 1974and 1976), pt. I, p. 34; PRO


E3721125, rot.3d,vii. 
30 G. Williams, (1963), op, cit., pp. 243-68; G, Williams, 'London and Edward I', Transactions of the Royal 
Historical Society, 5th series, 11, (1961), 81-98: H. M. Colvin, ed., op. cit., 11, p. 722. 
31 E. W. Safford, op. cit., I, 53, 63, 76, 88, 93, 102, 135, 290; 11, 48, 50, 64, 144. 
32 PRO E101146711o m.1. 
33 PRO E3721120 m.2. Although this text is badly rubbed and corrupt, PRO E352/69 (Chancellors Roll, 4.Ed.I.) 
provides the full text with some additional items. 
34 Cal. Close Rolls, 1272-79, pp. 265, 362. 
35 PRO E3721121 rot.comp. 2 d. 
36 Ibid and PRO C/47/3/47 M. I. 
37 PRO E 3721121 rot comp 2 dors; PRO C 47/3/47 M. I. 
38 P. Curnow, op. cit., pp. 168-69. 
39 PRO SPI17o f. I 12; Bodleian Library, Rawlinson M.S. D775 f.206.; L.F.Salzman, Building in England down to 
1540, (Oxford I~SZ), H. M. Colvin, ed., op. cit., pp. 266-67. 

pp. 579-80;

40 PRO Work 14.212 and PRO Works $11137 f67v, 88v.

41 PRO E3721121 rot.comp. 2 d.

42 Dover Castle archives (formerly the Surrenden Collection) regulations concerning the opening of the

portcullis there. Mr Jonathan Coade of English Heritage kindly gave me a photocopy of this.

43 PRO C 47/3/47 M. I, 2.

44 M. Prestwich, Edward I (London 1988), pp. 264-65; G. Williams, (1961), op. cit., pp. 81-82; G. Williams,

op. tit. (1963)~pp 254-55.

45 E. Hallam, ed., Itinerary ofEdward I1 (List & Index Society, ccx~, 1984), p. 240.

46 PRO E10114681z1 f87v.

47 G. Williams, (1963), pp. 286-88.

48 E. Hallam, ed., op. cit., pp. 213, 214, 216, 217.

49 E. L. G. Stones, 'The Date of Roger Mortimer's Escape from the Tower of London', English Historical Review,

LXVI (1951), 97-98.

50 Cal. Close Rolls, 1323-27, P. 563; Rymer, Foedera, Record Commission, 11, 651, 629, 2031; E. Hallam, ed. 

op. cit., p. 284. 
51 Edward Goldsmith ed., 11, 32-33. 
52 Rymer, p. 203; Cal.Close Rolls, 1323-27, p. 563. 
53 PRO E101146917 m.5. 
54 Ibid. 
$5 PRO E101/469/7 m.4. 
56 G. Williams, (1963), op. cit., pp. 295-98; K. H. Vickers, England in the late Middle Ages (London 1913). 

PP 133-34. 

57 PRO E101/469/7 m.4. 

58 PRO E101/469/7 m.q,8. 

59 PRO E101146917 m.11. 

60 T. F. Tout, The Place ofthe Reign of Edward 11 in English History, (revised edition 1936), pp 158-60. 61 Cal. Patent Rolls, 1307-13, p. 287; Cal. Close Rolls, 1318-23, p. 258.

62 PRO E101147018 m.2,3.

63 PRO E101147018 m.3; E101147016 m.7; E101147ol1 m.6.

64 PRO E101147018 m.3.

65 Tout, Chapters in the Administrative History of Mediaeval England, 6 vols, (1928-33), IV, 479.

66 ibid., p. 465. n.1.

67 W. M. Ormrod, TheReignofEdwardIII, (London 1993), pp. 174-75; G. Williams, (1963), op. cit., pp. 29~300

68 W. M. Ormrod, op. cit., p. 14; M. McKisack, The Fourteenth Century (Oxford 1959), p. 168.

69 On a rough basis relying on the printed calendars for the patent rolls and letters from the king and those sealed

with the privy seal.

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