Happy Sunday everyone, and welcome to my first self-penned Sunday Sojourn of 2017! I am taking this opportunity to explore a place which means a lot to me, as the setting for my debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, back in October 2015.
The Tower had never really been on my radar, if I’m honest, until the idea of a week down in London came about in a roundabout manner, and I decided that perhaps it was time to take in two of our greatest historic royal palaces: the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace. Hampton Court was stunning, but even in a February blizzard, it was the Tower which took my breath away. Built by William the Conqueror, and lived in or visited by, as far as I can tell, every monarch of England and Britain ever since, there’s simply so much history contained within those walls. Before visiting, I’d had an idea for a poem (atrocious, don’t worry, I’ll never make you suffer it), but the concept, of the ghosts of Richard III and Anne Boleyn having a lot in common, kept nagging away at me, especially once I got inside those walls. Even now, there’s something about walking by Traitors’ Gate or the Bloody Tower, and imagining how things were back then, and the terror that prisoners must have felt, being brought in.
By the time I returned in August the following year, the scene was set for the novel, and the idea vaguely falling into place, with a whole host of characters trying to grab my attention.
I’ve always believed that certain historical buildings or sites have particular ‘feelings’ about them. Not ghosts or spirits necessarily, although I definitely believe the Tower has plenty of those, but definitely a sense of the history that’s happened there. That’s never been stronger than in the Tower walls, even on an August Bank Holiday Saturday, when the place is heaving with tourists. When I was there in summer, I was lucky enough to watch a re-enactment of the Wars of the Roses, an event which made it into my novel, but whether part of a huge crowd following the ‘Earl of Warwick’ into battle, or wandering solo through the display of old, jewel-less crowns, there’s definitely something about the Tower. Yes, it’s probably all down to the myths and legends of the place, the dungeons and rumours of torture, the prisoners and tales of secret loves, and of course, those gory executions, now marked with a beautiful, fairytale-like glass monument. But for me, it’s more than that – this place has seen so much of our country’s history, whether it be celebration or revolution, and it’s still an important part of our tradition, housing the Crown Jewels, and sounding royal gun salutes on important occasions.
I’m so keen to get back, and keep exploring a place which I managed to avoid and ignore for so long, but now has become one of the most important buildings in the world! I’d love to hear your tales of The Tower too…