Tower of London


The Tower of London isn't a tower. It's a complex of twenty towers built in different centuries, rebuilt in various ways and used for fine and nefarious purposes over its 900 year existence.

It reminded me just a little bit of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Not because they look much alike (though they both consist of great stone and wood buildings) but because they are the same class of place - former palace and prison turned to tourism. And places I've spent time drawing, too. I wonder what other former palaces/prisons exist in the world? Perhaps I should go on a tour and draw them all.

I'm a litle embarrassed to admit that much of my prior knowledge of the Tower came from Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle books, so I spent as much time recalling scenes from the books as I did people-watching. But I wasn't entirely daydreaming. I paid attention, too.

Something I learned today is the historical origin of some familiar nursery rhymes. Mary Tudor, who became Mary 1 of England, was fond of gardening. She spent so much time outdoors that she was nicknamed The Farmer's Wife. She was also a devout Catholic and when she became queen had over 300 Protestant leaders executed. She earned the nickname Bloody Mary for that.

Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
With silver bells [mass] and cockle shells [awards for crusades] and pretty maids [nuns] all in a row.

Mary couldn't become Queen until she seized the throne from Lady Jane Grey. Lady Jane's father-in-law was the architect of Jane's near ascent to the throne. When he figured that the army was going to support Mary instead of Jane, he sent three bishops to preach on Jane's behalf. It didn't work and the bishops ran away to beseech Mary for mercy.

Three blind mice, three blind mice [the bishops], see how they run.
They all ran after the famer's wife, who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
[they were executed]


Ah, I always wondered about the three blind mice. Makes sense, now.

I hope you are taking lots of photos!! I wanna see!!

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  • T: I hope you are taking lots of photos!! I wanna read more
  • Fran: Ah, I always wondered about the three blind mice. Makes read more