Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time?
Slipping away from the grandeur of the Crown Jewel display, I find myself following the winding spiral staircase to the third floor of the White Tower. Rising within the turret at the corner of the structure, the air becomes still and close in the absence of windows. One can almost imagine being escorted up these stairs to an uncertain future.
Moving now into the main room of the once top floor, I can imagine this room in many forms. From the large fireplace to the windows allowing in bright sunlight, it is easy to see how this space could be occupied by members of the royal family. The love and joy of family could make these stone walls feel warm. A monarch ready to be crowned may have stood looking out into the surrounding lands before making the journey toward coronation.
Yet as I stand before the well-preserved display representing a kingly chamber, I feel the call of those held here in less tolerable conditions. Those high-born and highly valued prisoners brought into the tower through the traitors gate would not have benefited from the comfort of warm hearts and caring family. Those who awaited torture and execution would have found this room far different from those laying down their head while awaiting a crown.
Could these cool stones have provided relief for the hot tears that coursed their terrified cheeks? Could the floors beneath me have been paced by fearful traitors as they awaited judgment? The size of this room could not have been enough to hold the turmoil of those uncertain moments. I walk toward a large window and look out over the Scaffold site; a memorial marking the place where many of those worried heads were removed. Could those prisoners, such as Anne Boelyn, whose fate it was to die on the Tower Green have stood here and watched the preparations? A chill deeper than the cool stones moves through me as I leave this room in search of the chapel below.
Author’s note: I have never been to the Tower of London, but have read about its architecture and history. Because of my love for historical novels, especially those of the Tudor era, I have a morbid fascination with this place where so much history has taken place.