Monday, June 22, 2009

Question from Kristian - Queen's Apartments at the Tower

I am curious (and confused) about the Tudor half-timber apartments at the Tower of London. In my reading, they have been variously identified as the Queen's Apartments (built by Henry VIII for Anne Boleyn's coronation), the Lieutenant's Lodgings and the Governor's Quarters.
I have also read in a couple of books that these are not the queens apartments and that the real apartments were destroyed.
Even after visiting in person, I am confused (that may just be my personal issue :o)
Can anyone shed some light on this?


  1. The house you are thinking of, overlooking the "execution site" towards St Peter's is offically called the Queen's House, as it is the official residence of HM The Queen, if she fancied staying over at her own palace. It is called that because we have a Queen currently but if she were to die and Charles came to the throne, it would become the King's House.
    Occasionally some of the Yeoman Warders mistakenly say that Queen Anne Boleyn stayed there. It's utter rubbish because it wasn't built until after 1541. Her lodgings were on the South Lawn, behind the White Tower, near where the Raven cages are today. The buildings fell into disrepair during Elizabeth's reign and, unsurprisingly, were not saved. They were actually built for Katharine of Aragon's Coronation, done up for Anne's, and then used again for her lodgings during the trial and up to the execution.
    The Queen's House has been residence for some queens (Jane Grey and the royal Arbella Stuart, and there possibly Princess/Lady Elizabeth, although there is some debate as to whether it was specifically the Bell Tower or the house itself, as both are connected to each other). The buildings are not open to the public because, when the Queen isn't there (which is pretty much always!), they are the residence of the Governor of the Tower.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Joanna has it correct, but I will add one or two things.

    The row of Tudor-era residences in that corner of the Tower, all of which appear on the 1597 map of the Tower, serve as the official residences for several different Tower officials, including the Constable of the Tower and the Lieutenant of the Tower. The Resident Governor of the Tower, who serves beneath both the Constable and the Lieutenant, also has a residence there. In the 1550s, the house closest to Beauchamp Tower was the residence of the Gentleman Gaoler of the Tower. I believe that particular residence may now be occupied by the Chief Yeoman Warder, but I could be wrong.

    In total, there are over a half-dozen residences in the Queen's House, all of which are occupied today by various high-ranking Tower officials. But for security reasons, the Tower officials are deliberately a little vague on who lives where. I attended a Ceremony of the Constable's Dues a few years ago and saw the Constable and the Lieutenant exit their quarters, but I could not identify the rest of the officials who came out of the other doors.

  3. Thanks to you both!
    Joanna - you cleared it up perfectly. I wish biographers and historians would describe it as clearly!

  4. I read in a few places that lady Jane Gray was held in the Gentleman Goalers house next to the Beauchamp Tower, if you are looking straight on at that is it the house on the left or the right of the Beauchamp tower?

  5. Anonymous, to the left of the Beauchamp Tower. If one is standing on the green and looking toward the Queen's House, the Gentleman Gaoler's quarters were on the right-hand end of the row of houses, closest to Beauchamp Tower.

  6. what joanna say is true i saw a computer generated image showing the queens apartments which anne stopped in and they were indeed behind the white tower were the ravens are ,i have been a few times to the tower
    and the beefeaters never mentioned them ,there showed be at least signs put there showing drawings etc
    this you tube video will tell you more (copy and paste )
    its from bullin 1 who as put a lot of tudor stuff on you tube well worth a look


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