Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Tower Hamlets (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ 33617 80548


THE TOWER OF LONDON TQ 3380 21/879 The White Tower


Tower keep. c.1078-1100 for William I and William II, probably to designs of Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester; later repairs and alterations, principally in C18 and C19 and by A Salvin, 1856-7; Rag-stone rubble with Caen stone dressings later replaced by Portland stone; lead roofs. Rectangular plan with apsidal projection at south-east angle housing east end of chapel, and cylindrical north-east stair turret. Anglo-Norman style. 3 storeys and basement, with 5-storey angle turrets. Each elevation (4-bay to north and south, 3-bay to east and 5-bay to west) has crenellated parapet, offset flat pilaster buttresses defining each bay and second-floor windows set in round-headed recesses forming bold Romanesque arcading; late C19 windows and early C19 sashes set in early C18 semicircular arched architraves with keyblocks, and impost blocks to large first and second- floor openings. Two early C18 panelled double doors set in similar architraves to first floor of north elevation, late C19 double doors to west and approached by double-flight of steps to east; two late C11 round-arched lights to first floor; apsidal south-eastern projection (to chapel) has mid C19 Norman-style round-arched windows with engaged shafts; south elevation has similar windows to chapel, early C18 architrave to original late C11 entrance to west bay of first floor, and 2 pairs of late C11 round-arched windows set within larger round- arched recesses to third floor. Angle turrets have restored late Cll round- arched lights and weathervanes to cupolas. Interior: each floor divided into two compartments by off-centre spine wall running north to south and by east-west wall defining area of chapel. All floors served by vice in north-east turret; vices from second floor in north-west and south-west turrets; inserted C14 vice in south wall, serving chapel. Basement, former storage and service area, has brick piers and vaulting of c.1730, original well, round-arched doorway to barrel-vaulted sub-crypt, and traces of original splayed recesses for loops in south, west and north walls. First floor: west compartment, former great hall, has C18 timber posts supporting ceiling, 5 round-arched embrasures and remains of late C11 round-arched fireplace along west wall, round-arched doorways flanking 3 tall round-arched recesses later pierced to make entries along east spine wall and round-arched embrasure to south altered into entry to inserted C14 vice; round-arched doorways to two garderobe chambers in north wall; east compartment, also with C18 timber posts supporting ceiling, has restored round-arched doorway to north-east vice, 3 round-arched embrasures and remains of round-arched fire- place along east wall and restored doorway set in wide round-arched recess to south-east crypt, which has had barrel vault restored in C20, 3 embrasures restored in C20, restored east window in niched apse, restored round-arched recess to west wall and restored round-arched doorway to square mural chamber in north wall. Second floor, containing royal hall, chapel and chamber, originally rose two stages (the third floor being an early C17 insertion) with mural gallery and 5-bay round-arched arcade to spine wall at third-floor level: Main western compartment, former great hall with central hearth, has 9 round-arched embra- sures, 2 restored round-arched doorways in spine wall, and original round-arched embrasure to south altered into entry for inserted C14 vice; mural passages to other vices.

East compartment or former royal chamber, has 3 tall round-arched recesses later pierced to make entries along west side of spine wall; round-arched entry to garderobe, window embrasure enlarged in C14, and round-arched doorway to garde- robe in north wall; late C11 chamfered round-arched fireplace and 3 round-arched embrasures in east wall; round-arched doorway to chapel.

Chapel of St John: aisled plan with eastern apse and ambulatory, of 13 bays; groin vaulting to aisles and ambulatory, with bays defined by responds forming arcade on outer walls and columns to main arcade surrounding barrel-vaulted nave which rises two storeys with barrel-vaulted triforium to upper stage; important series of Anglo-Norman capitals, including eight block-shaped capitals with fluted chamfers, one primitive Corinthian capital, two with primitive volutes, one cushion capital and two double-cushion capitals; all have scribed mouldings to abaci, except geometric carving to two western capitals, and eleven capitals have Germanic-inspired Tau crosses. Round-headed recesses to west wall, includ- ing inserted doorway to C14 vice.

Chapel restored by A Salvin in 1864-6, when windows (with C18 stained glass from Strawberry Hill) were replaced.

Listing NGR: TQ3361680542


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 26 Jan 2005
Reference: IOE01/13866/12
Rights: Copyright IoE Miss Jennie Anderson. Source Historic England Archive
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