Tower Hill is more than "just" the Her
Majesty's Palace and Tower of London. Arriving at Tower Hill tube
station, standing outside the exit and turning a circle will afford you
a look at things from Roman times to the present.
Near the station, you can see a portion of the Roman
wall which originally surrounded Londinium, the Roman settlement. This
area along the river was particularly defensible, as it was high ground
and commanded both land and river.
Turning more, you can look over a small park, which
was the site of the execution block for members of the nobility. (Those
of "lesser class" were trundled off to what is now Marble Arch for
execution by more gruesome means.) A small plaza and plaques commemorate
Across the way, you will see a small church, All
Hallows By The Tower. Of particular note to Americans is that this is
the church where President John Quincy Adams was married and where
William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, was baptized and educated. The
original church was started here in 675 and one Saxon arch remains. A
bit of Roman floor is also visible beneath the arch, discovered in 1926.
The church survived the Great Fire in 1666, but was bombed out in World
War II, with only the tower and walls remaining. The late Queen
Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, laid a new foundation stone in 1948 and
attended the re-dedication in 1957.
Dominating the area is Her Majesty's Palace and Tower
of London. On the orders of William the Conqueror, the central keep was
begun in wood in 1067. The present stone structure, the White Tower, was
begun in 1078. This fortress was part of the string of strongholds built
by William to secure his newly conquered territory. Windsor Castle is
another in this string.