White Tower, London

The White Tower

The keep at the Tower of London is about 90 feet high and the thickness of the walls varies from 15 feet in the basement to around 10 feet at the top. A central cross wall runs the complete height of keep providing extra strength and a means of supporting the wooden flooring. Originally the keep was painted with whitewash leading to its name. The keep has three square corner towers and one circular corner tower to the north east in which the main spiral staircase is situated. The south east of the building is rounded providing the circular shape usually found at the east and of a church and in which is located the castle's chapel.

The upper floor of the keep has a passage that runs around the keep. The larger of the two rooms on this floor was the Council Chamber while the other would have been private chambers for the king. The area to south is a viewing gallery above the chapel of St. John.

This second floor of the keep contains the chapel of St. John. The chapel has a row of four columns on each side creating aisles and an arc of four columns to the east forming the apse . The chapel extends up to the third floor. The room to the north of the chapel was used as a court while the main room to the west was used as a banqueting hall. Starting from this floor two extra spiral staircases in the west corners of the keep give access to the floor above and corner turrets.

The only original entrance to the keep was on the south side of the first floor. It is probable that a forebuilding existed on the south side of the keep to protect the entrance and is shown on some ancient prints but has been removed. Again, like the others, this floor is divided into three rooms and this floor was used by the garrison of guards. The room to the south east is the crypt, being directly below the chapel of St. John. In the round tower to the north east is the spiral staircase that gives access to the rest of the keep. This one staircase provides excellent protection for the rest of the keep as any attackers would have to use this one route to reach the other floors and the staircase could be defended by a small number of men.

The basement of the keep is divided into three rooms. The floor is under ground level to the north but is above ground level to the south because the ground that the keep sits on slopes towards the river Thames. The basement was originally only reached by a spiral staircase in the north east round tower. The basement of the keep held the instruments of torture which were used to extract information from prisoners.

in the area to the south east is a dungeon known as the 'Little Ease'.