THE BLOG

The Tower of London - What a Venue!

26/11/2015 10:58 GMT | Updated 25/11/2016 10:12 GMT

I was recently asked to speak at an event being held at the Tower of London by the ORR to celebrate their 175th anniversary. When asked I was surprised as I hadn't realised you could hire the place as a venue for a conference but I also accepted with alacrity as I hadn't been there since I was a child.

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picture courtesy of creativecommons.org

I have a love of all things historical and the history surrounding the Tower of London is quintessentially British.

William the Conqueror began the construction of the Tower in 1070 and took 30 years to build. Over the ensuing centuries succeeding monarchs added to the fortress (which was its original purpose) until it stands as we see it today. Though more often thought of as a prison and a place of execution it also served as a place of refuge and some of its additions were lodgings for royalty. Particularly before a coronation the prospective king or queen would be lodged there prior to departing for the crowning ceremony. Its more bloody reputation took over during the Tudor's reign and the population within its walls tended to be political or religious rivals to the incumbent ruler of the time. It had a period where it was used for some of the country's institutions such as the Royal Mint and the Records Office before finally becoming a tourist attraction during Queen Victoria's reign.

With its publicly kept and funded Ravens supposedly a symbol of the supernatural (apparently if the Ravens were not kept the White Tower would crumble and a terrible disaster would befall England) and the gloriously attired Beefeaters it was too good an opportunity to miss so of course I accepted the booking.

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picture courtesy of creativecommons.org

On the event day I arrived, suitably attired to give my keynote speech, to be met at the entrance by the conference organiser. One thing I had forgotten since childhood is that the internal streets of the Tower are cobbled and the outfit I was wearing on this particular day included high heels! I had to cling onto the arms of my cameraman and the organiser for dear life whilst tiptoe-ing gingerly across the cobbles. The hundreds of tourists who were also there that day must have thought I was a complete nitwit.

Even so I stopped every now and then to visually drink in the sights that presented themselves. The buildings, the towers, the higgledy pathways and streets. Even with the tourists milling around it was possible to imagine yourself back to a time when it would have bustled with medieval residents or been seen to the despair of Tudor prisoners.

To actually stand up and speak surrounded by such a historical ambience was simply amazing. To hear my words echo and resonate around and, who knows, perhaps leave a faint trace of memory within those ancient walls filled me with such a delicious thrill. I left hoping that someday, in the future, I might get such an opportunity again.

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picture courtesy of creativecommons.org

A stunning venue and one I can heartily recommend to any speaker, event organiser or company looking for an out of the ordinary venue. Just a note to anyone who does book it - make sure you warn ladies to bring some flats with them!