Interactive timeline - History of the RA
Before the Romans
The pre-Roman site of the Tower of London was probably occupied by an Iron Age farm.
Twilight of the Roman City
Londinium was remodelled and strengthened in response to the threat of Saxon invasion.
The Conqueror's Castle
Work began on the construction of William the Conqueror's mighty White Tower.
The Tower Enlarged
A major expansion of the Tower's defences during the reigns of Richard I and King John.
The Classic Castle
Henry III extended the defences of the Tower and refurbished and enlarged the royal lodgings.
Apogee of the Medieval Castle
Tower defences extended, to those seen today, by England's greatest warrior king, Edward I.
The Tudor Power House
During Henry VIII's reign the Offices of Ordnance, Armoury, Mint and Records occupy the Tower.
Showplace of the Nation
After the Restoration in 1660 armouries displays are established to impress the visiting public.
The Great Conflagration
The Grand Storehouse including two armouries displays is destroyed by fire on 31 Oct 1841.
Remedievalisation of the Castle
50 years of restoration transformed the appearance of the Tower following the fire of 1841.
The Castle at War
WWII aerial bombing threatens the Tower. The Main Guard is destroyed on the 29 Dec 1940.
The Tower Today
The Tower of London attracts over 2 million visitors per year as a World Heritage Site.
Armouries in the Tower of London
The Royal Armouries is one of the ancient institutions of the Tower of London.
Its origins may be traced back to the working armoury of the medieval kings of England operating within the castle.
An important chapter in its development occurred in the early 15th century with the emergence of the Office of Armoury as an offshoot of the Privy Wardrobe of the Tower. At this point it seems that the ‘Keeper of the King’s armour at the Tower of London’, first mentioned in 1423, together with the ‘Master of the Ordnance’, first recorded in 1414, had replaced the Keeper of the Wardrobe.
The offices of Armoury and Ordnance were responsible for procuring and issuing a wide variety of military equipment. The Armoury concentrated on armour and edged weapons; the Ordnance, cannon, handguns and the more traditional bow and arrow. Developments in the art of war resulted in the Ordnance becoming the more important of the two organisations and in 1670, the equipment and functions of the Office of Armoury passed to the Ordnance.