Government records were stored at the Tower of London from at least the 13th century. The White Tower and the Wakefield Tower were both used to house Chancery and Exchequer documents. These records were important for maintaining royal power as they provided essential information about property ownership and taxation.
Government documents were stored in St John’s Chapel and elsewhere within the White Tower for over 500 years. By the late 14th century storage was extended to the Wakefield Tower. From the 16th century onwards Keepers of Records frequently complained about the poor condition of records and shortage of space. Plans to improve storage were regularly proposed.
The Record Act 1838 created the Public Record Office under its first Keeper Sir Francis Palgrave, who took charge of the Tower records in 1840. The Tower Record Office closed in 1858 and its contents moved to the Public Record Office, Chancery Lane.