Yeoman Warder Tour of the Tower of London
After exiting the Crown Jewels exhibit, join the group forming at the Middle Tower, just inside the entrance gates, for an hour-long guided tour led by a Yeoman Warder of the Tower. The first tour is at 9:30 am and a new tour leaves every 30 minutes.
You’ll recognize the Yeoman Warders by their distinctive uniforms and hats. They are an elite group of men (and one woman) whose traditional duty since the Middle Ages has been to guard the Tower. These days, along with their ceremonial duties, they act as tour guides and answer visitors’ questions.
Their uniforms have two basic designs: a blue and red uniform – called the “undress” uniform – for everyday use and a scarlet and gold uniform worn only for special occasions. The dress uniform, with its trademark Tudor-style pleated collar, was originally designed in 1485 and is reported to be not only expensive but also very heavy and uncomfortable.
Although your guide may try to convince you it means “Extremely Romantic,” the embroidered monogram ER on the uniform actually stands for “Elizabeth Regina” – Latin for “Queen Elizabeth,” the current sovereign of England.
To be eligible for selection as a Yeoman Warder, one must have at least 22 years of military service and have reached the rank of Sergeant Major. A good conduct record for 18 years is also required.
Yeoman Warders are often called “Beefeaters.” No one knows for sure the origin of the term but it was presumably used as a derogatory nickname for the Yeoman Warders because of their daily ration of beer and beef. Only rich people could afford beef at the time.
Today’s Beefeaters are highly entertaining and give wonderful tours, shock full of stories – some truer than others.
Take a Break: The New Armouries Café
Inside the tower complex, try the New Armouries Café. Formerly the site of the royal arsenal, the New Armouries Café provides a spacious, pleasant environment for a lunch or afternoon tea. The service is cafeteria-style and prices are reasonable. Kids’ menus are available.