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THE CEREMONY OF THE KEYS

It was a privilege to once again step inside the Tower of London to witness the Ceremony of the Keys, this time with the wife in tow.

Visiting the tower to witness The Ceremony of the Keys is normally a once-in-a-lifetime event, so to have the opportunity to do it twice and share this with Liz was extra special.


There are only two ways that you can see this spectacle.

  1. Apply online at https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/whats-on/ceremony-of-the-keys/ . They charge a nominal £5.00 per ticket and all tickets must be pre-booked online. You should be aware that tickets come available on the first working day of the month for the next month’s worth of tickets and it is fully booked very quickly.

  2. better still if you know someone who knows someone to get a backstage pass.

Royal Marines's at the Tower...

Currently, there are 2 former Royal Marine Yeoman Warders and as of 1 August this year, the Constable of the Tower of London as many will know, is our own General Sir Gordon Messenger, KCB, DSO & Bar, OBE, ADC who joined a long list of famous figures and military leaders in British history by becoming the 161st custodian of the post in almost 1000 years, dating back to 1068.


Since the late 18th Century the appointment has been held solely by senior Army commanders and General Gordon succeeds, General The Lord Nicholas Houghton Baron Houghton of Richmond GCB CBE ADC. I suspect we will see General Gordon in the house of Lords sometime soon.

General Sir Gordon Messenger reading his G&L at his inauguration with two Royal Marine Yeoman Warders 1st August 2022


"THE CONSTABLE’S DUES"

These are two of the several perks that the Constable of the Tower traditionally enjoys.

  • Firstly every ship that came upstream to the City to moor at Tower Wharf was required to unload a portion of its cargo for the Constable and still today, whenever a Royal Naval vessel moors on the Wharf the Captain must present the Constable with a barrel of wine, rum, or brandy know as the ‘Dues’.

  • The Constable of the Tower is the only person in the country who is not required to request an audience with the King.

All Yeoman Warders live within the walls of the Tower as does The Constable who resides on Tower Green in the King's House, seen below with the lantern above the door.


The Ceremony of the Keys is not photographed or recorded but simply witnessed in silence but what we received was a personal guided tour of the Tower at night which was extremely humourous and factual.


‘MAY YOU NEVER DIE A YEOMAN WARDER’. Link

New Yeoman Warders are ‘sworn in' during a centuries-old ceremony. Then they drink a toast of port, served in an 18th-century pewter bowl. Tradition requires the Chief Yeoman Warder to toast all new recruits with the words ‘may you never die a Yeoman Warder’.


The origins of this rather odd toast can be found in the fact that by the early 19th century the post of Yeoman Wards was being sold for 250 guineas. This would be returned to the Yeoman Warder on his retirement, with the balance kept by the Constable who hired him. But if the Yeoman Warder died in post, the Constable inherited the whole amount! However, the Duke of Wellington, who became Constable in 1826, abolished this purchase system.

 

Moving around the Tower at night can be extremely atmospheric on a normal night but on the 5th of November, we had extra special sound effects.


Below we are in The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula hearing about Lady Jane Grey who was executed at the age of 17 on Tower Green just outside this chapel by her half-sister Queen Mary (Bloody Mary).


And Instantly recognisable, even at night is the White Tower, which is the most famous castle keep in the world with Tower Bridge in the background making a magnificent backdrop in the night sky.

The tour started at 19:30 and finished at 11:45 but not before Paul and I posed with our grumpy old man faces for a 'where do you wear your CGB, photo and a pint or two at the Yeoman Warder's own pub 'The Keys'.


The sign above the door is also connected loosely with the Corps as the artist is married to a former RM and therefore part of our RM family.

"PMPT"







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5 Comments


Another interesting blog Dave, great place to visit, all the more so after dark!

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Unknown member
Nov 07, 2022
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I'm sure you will enjoy your visit also.

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jkmeeds
jkmeeds
Nov 07, 2022

Good Blog David well done

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rodplayford1955
rodplayford1955
Nov 07, 2022

Glad you enjoyed your visit, I was fortunate to visit the Tower in December 2019, it's certainly well worth seeing and the afterwards in the 'bar'.

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rodplayford1955
rodplayford1955
Nov 07, 2022


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