Tower of London’s 19th century architectural plans | Beyond Palace Doors


These plans are some of the oldest items
in Historic Royal Palaces architectural drawings collection and together they
provide an insight into how the face of the Tower of London was transformed
during the reign of Queen Victoria These drawings shed light on the
transformational period in the Tower’s history They reveal how the Beauchamp
Tower was given a significant makeover by the architect Anthony Salvin that
would set in process the re-medevilisation of the fortress over the rest of
the 19th century. During this period several parts of the Tower would undergo
restoration to return them to what was thought was a more authentic historical
appearance. This drawing which was made in 1851 shows the Beauchamp Tower in plan You can see the Beauchamp Tower in the center of the plan here coloured in
orange. This was a 13th century tower that had been built by King Edward I but by 1851 it had become quite neglected and several other more modern
brick buildings had been built up around its base. These were houses for the
residents of the Tower and we can see that this was the house of Yeoman Warder Durrington and this one was where Yeoman Warder Friar lived there was also a Governor’s Coach House The Tower authorities decided that the Beauchamp Tower should be restored so that it could be opened up to the public to see
the historic graffiti carved into the walls by former prisoners The man they
called in to oversee the restoration was the Gothic Revival architect Antony
Salvin. Amazingly, we can still see which of the buildings Salvin crossed out
together with a note and even the architect’s signature. What I love about
this drawing is how it so clearly plays a role as a tool of communication. The
drawings are almost like an actor playing a part in the story So here we are outside
the Beauchamp Tower which we were just looking at in the plans. On Salvin’s
recommendation the modern buildings that were obscuring the Beauchamp Tower were demolished revealing the complete facade for the first time in decades.
Once the houses had been removed the rest of the Tower could be restored. Salvin repaired the windows, repaired the interiors, reinstated the battlements
and refaced the entire exterior, giving the Beauchamp tower is present
appearance. Salvin’s work set the mould for the restoration of the Tower over the
next 50 years During this period, several parts of the Tower were remade including the Salt Tower, St. Thomas’s Tower and of course the White Tower. But
it was also during this period that some of the most important historical remains
at the Tower were destroyed, including the last remnants of the medieval palace Today Salvin’s drawing lives here in the Plans Room at the Tower of London, along
with 30,000 other architectural drawings each of which has its own story to tell And that’s what makes this collection so important for the history of the palaces

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