Back in the day, there was only one bridge in London: the London Bridge. This meant that anything coming into London by boat would have to pass the tower. Hence giving it the importance it had as a defence building. It was also the highest building around, I would imagine making an impressive sight.
The Tower of London is not as bloody as they make it seem. There were only 22 executions that actually took place within the Tower. It was also not meant to be a prison but its location meant that to was quite convenient for it to be so.
The Tower of London was also not meant to be a zoo but in the 1200s the King received exotic animals such as elephants and polar bears as gifts and thus a zoo was started. It remained there for 600 years. In 1835 the zoo part of the tower closed and all the animals where moved to the new London Zoo in Regent’s Park.
It is known that the Crown jewels are kept in the Tower of London. What is not known is that the oldest and only original item of the jewels is a spoon. The story says that after the English civil war, the parliamentarians that won wanted to get rid of the Crown and thus the jewels. They sold the jewels cheaply and an employee bought the spoon. When the Royalty was re-established this said individual sold the spoon for a lot more, making it a worthwhile investment. The rest of the jewels were never recovered, most of them were melted into weapons.
The Tower of London is now also a residence for about 140 people. These people are the Yeoman Warders or Beefeaters – which name comes from their role as food tasters to the King when they ate his beef to ensure it wasn’t poisoned. To be part of the Beefeaters, individuals must have completed 22 years service in the Forces and be at least a former warrant officer holding the Good Conduct and Long Service medals. A fair requirement for your own pub at the Tower of London I would say!