A family trip to the Tower of London at the weekend reminded me once again of how much I love visiting English castles.
I was trying to account for this in one of my previous posts, but a fellow-writer put it beautifully; when you go round these places you are reassured about the meaningfulness of our lives through the power of story.
No matter how grisly and macabre the behaviour of our predecessors was, we thrill to these historical sites. Everyone of all ages can enjoy them, both adults and children – whether or not the latter are currently studying medieval castles at school! And the Tower of London is immensely photogenic. You cannot move a step without itching to capture another angle, another story-filled view.
The red poppy installation at the Tower – in which the moat has been filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies in commemoration of the 1st World War – is an awe-inspiring, beautiful and moving sight.
As I am constantly learning more about the Tudors, I feel that the Tower has a tremendous emotional poignancy. I cannot look at the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula without thinking of the account I have read of Anne Boleyn’s ladies-in-waiting carrying her body to the chapel for burial, and having to wait several hours for space to be prepared for her beneath the altar pavement – because nobody had actually expected her to be executed; many believed a last-minute reprieve would arrive from Henry VIII.
But it didn’t. And Anne Boleyn’s legacy is a very special place in English history – as the chief person that springs to our minds in the same breath as The Tower of London.