Leadenhall Market — London’s Best Kept Secret

Leadenhall Market – A Victorian Gem & One of London’s Best kept Secret

Explore another side of London — the city’s best kept secret! Tucked away from the busy streets and the high-rises of the financial district of London, with a rich heritage and incredible architecture dating back 700 years is Leadenhall Market, a Victorian gem easily missed and less visited by occasional visitors to the city. This remarkable building is also Grade II listed, denoting its significant historic interest.

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What to expect in this article on Leadenhall Market

In this article, you shall find top reasons that makes Leadenhall Market a notable place to visit in London, beginning with its rich history to the incredible things to do such as shopping, dining and getting your shoes shined at this Victorian marketplace. Practical tips are included on how to locate this marvellous destination as well as landmarks to visit which are located close by. You could skip ahead to a particular section by using the navigation below, if you prefer.

Leadenhall Market London's best kept secret

1 | The origins and history of Leadenhall Market, London

The stunning Leadenhall Market has a rich history dating back to 1321, at the heart of what we now know to be Roman London. Underneath the arches and cobblestones of Leadenhall Market today are the remains of the Roman Forum and Basilica. As well, Bishopsgate, Cheapside and Leadenhall Street follow the Roman roads that once existed.

History tells us that the Romans loved their markets! It is thought that a market existed at this location since their settlement but not much is known about the market place after they left. Thereafter, the Anglo-Saxons returned and used the same location to set up a marketplace to boost the economy.

1.1 | Medieval history of Leadenhall Market

Eventually, the Leadenhall manor fell into the ownership of Lord Whittington, the Lord Mayor of the City of London. In 1411, he gifted the manor to the City of London.

1.2 | Leadenhall Market through the centuries

In 1440, Simon Eyre, the then Lord Mayor commissioned the skills of John Croxton, a master mason to redesign the manor house. The manor house was converted to two levels, and housed a large public granary along with lots of storage spaces. Trade was brought into the building, away from the streets nearby. The marketplace became the focal of medieval economy. By 1600s, trading involved cheese, milk, butter and eggs alongside poultry, meats, grains, leather and metal ware.

Following the Great Fire of London, Sir Horace Jones was commissioned to redesign the stone building. He designed and built Leadenhall Market in 1881 that continues to exist today. The nearby markets of Billingsgate and Smithfield were designed by Sir Jones also. The architecture embodies space, and light with wrought iron and glass. More recently, in 1991, Leadenhall Market underwent extensive renovations but the eye-catching Victorian architecture of brightly painted wrought iron beams of the main roof was preserved.


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2 | Leadenhall Market today

This large covered area of what was once a marketplace has evolved to be a modern retail hub. Set amidst a Victorian roof, cobbles and preserved buildings and architecture, Leadenhall Market provides a wide range of shopping and a variety of dining options. Located in the centre of the financial district of London also means that it is a busy hub for the men and women in smart suits and the savvy financier.

The many entrances are decorated with stone carvings of dragons, swags and shields of varying sizes. The larger stone pediments reflect the main entrances to the market. Some have the market’s name and date inscribed upon them.

2.1 | Fashionable boutiques and Fine dining at Leadenhall Market, London

Housed within the Victorian architecture are upscale shops such as Barbour, Reiss, Hobbs, Waterstones and many more.

In addition, there is a selection of restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs offering unique dining experiences from fine dining, mid-range dining or to take-aways and sandwiches. There is Cheese of Leadenhall for cheese lovers and for wine lovers, the Brokers Wine Bar is an excellent choice.

The Lamb Tavern is highly recommended. It is a traditional pub, a restaurant and lately, popular as a wedding venue. Occupying three-floors of impressive decor, this grand old pub serves traditional British food and ales. The Lamb Tavern has been a public house since the Market buildings were completed in 1881.

Visiting this beautifully clean and vibrant Victorian setting ordinarily on a working day or at Christmas is highly encouraged. Truth be told that it is extraordinarily special at Christmas. It is lit-up bright with Christmas lights and a 20-foot high Christmas tree takes the centre-stage of this Victorian market setting. Shoppers with Christmas shopping bags, the vibrancy of modern dining, the bars and pubs overflowing with beer drinkers in smart attire amidst chatter and laughter. Added to this are the Christmas crafts, music and the aroma of mulled wine. It is hard to imagine the smell of meat and poultry that this Victorian market once was!

Christmas Lights 2021 switching-on ceremony is scheduled for November 19. December 8 signals the beginning of Christmas workshops, music and late-night shopping

2.2 | The Shoe-shiners of Leadenhall Market

When I visited Leadenhall Market a couple of years ago, I was fascinated to discover that it was home to talented actors who run the London City Shoe Shine Co. in between their engagements at West End.

These actors have been shining shoes in this Victorian setting since 1991, come rain or shine! Although, if the leather shoes are wet on a rainy day, you will probably not find the shoe-shiners sitting at their station.

The actors work in pairs and this beautiful advent afternoon was no different to any other. There was a steady flow of customers, mostly regulars, I suspect. As Leadenhall Market is situated in the centre of the banking industry and bankers were traditionally their most regular customers.

I saw a window of opportunity to steal a quick chat with them, with an assurance that they remain anonymous. It was an interesting chat, one of them have an upcoming role in a movie while the other is involved mainly in theatre performances. Soon, two customers arrived, and I stayed to watch briefly.

The shine-box method

I was captivated with the use of the old-fashioned shine-box method – where the customer raises one foot onto the footplate for it to be shined and then the other shoe gets done afterwards. These modest shoe shiners exuded a relaxed sense of style and their buoyant energy in a carefully crafted skill of vigorous hand-movement, first brush, then focusing on the toe for extra shine – a pair of shiny shoes will always set a man apart as a man that knows how to take care of himself – appearance matters! Definitely! Don’t you think so?

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2.3 | Leadenhall Market is a popular filming location

For the ardent Harry Potter fans, you will be delighted to know that there were several scenes which were filmed at Leadenhall Market. One of the most memorable scene is when Hagrid and Harry Potter go shopping for wands. This scene was filmed outside of Leadenhall Market.

You may also recall the area of London which led to the wizarding pub, the magical shopping street of Diagon Alley (in the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) and the Leaky Couldron (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). The highly recognisable blue door entrance to the Leaky Couldron at 42 Bull’s Head Passage is actually an opticians office at Leadenhall Market.

Recommended: An interactive Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour

Leadenhall Market has also been used as a filming location in other movies for example:

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy;

The Imaginarium of Doctor Pernassus;

Hearafter;

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3 | The Story of Old Tom at Leadenhall Market

As we know, Leadenhall Market was once a place for the sale of poultry, and this required for chickens and geese to be slaughtered in the market. However, Old Tom, the little goose had a different tale to tell.

One day, in early 1800s, thousands of geese were brought to the Market to be slaughtered but one little gander from Belgium managed to escape. The story goes that he was not only clever to escape his fate on one occasion but he did so over several occasions on a number of days. Eventually, he was allowed to live happily and was named “Old Tom”. Old Tom became a beloved resident of Leadenhall Market. He was fed by the market workers with scraps of food and lived to the age of 37. Old Tom passed of natural causes in 1835 and was given a proper burial. He is buried inside the Market.

Old Tom was much loved and his Obituary appeared in the Times Newspaper, on April 16, 1835:

In memory of Old Tom the Gander

Obit 19th March, 1835, aetat, 37 years, 9 months and 6 days

This famous gander, while in stubble,

Fed freely, without care or trouble;

Grew fat eating corn and sitting still,

And scarce could cross the barn-door sill;

And seldom waddle forth to cool,

His belly in the neighbouring pool;

Transplanted to another scene,

He stalk’d in state o’er Calais-green,

With full five hundred geese behind;

To his superior care consign’d;

Whom readily he would engage,

To lead in march ten miles a-stage,

Thus a decoy he lived and died,

The chief of geese, the poulterer’s pride.

You could always raise a glass to Old Tom when you visit Leadenhall Market. His burial spot is marked by the Old Tom’s Bar at 10-12 Leadenhall Market.

Old Tom’s Bar serves traditional British dishes and craft beers.


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4 | Best London attractions nearby to Leadenhall Market

While visiting Leadenhall Market, you may also wish to make a day of it by visiting other attractions in the financial district and nearby. The following attractions are located within a few minutes of each other and easily reached by foot. Click on the links to learn more.


5 | Practical tips and Useful information

If you plan to visit this part of London, you will note two entirely differing cultures depending on when you elect to sightsee. During the week, The City is abuzz with white collar workers hurrying along to get on with their business and at weekends, it becomes a quiet haven for visitors to explore.

5.1 | Where is Leadenhall Market located?

This prominent destination is located at the triangle that is made up of Gracechurch Street, Fenchurch Street and Leadenhall Street.

Address:  Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 1LT

5.2 | Opening hours

Public areas are open 24/7 for 7-days a week.

For shops and restaurants, opening hours varies, please check individual      stores.

5.3 | Transport:

Trains 

London Fenchurch Street Station    (8-minute walk)

London Cannon Street Station         (8-minute walk)

Liverpool Street Station      (13-minute walk)

Moorgate Station     (13-minute walk)

Underground

Monument Station    (4-minute walk)

Bank Station     (6-minute walk)

Aldgate Station   (8-minute walk)

Moorgate Station  (13-minute walk)


6 | Planning a trip to London?

You may find the following resources helpful. I use them in my travel plan and happily share them with you to save time and money.

Travel resources at a Glance

Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.

Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa

Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.

Flights

I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com

Accommodations

My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine are Millennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.

Unique experiences & tours

My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.

Travel insurance

Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.

Travel essentials

Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.


7 | Finally

Leadenhall Market is a little gem, covered and tucked away in the middle of bustling London financial district. It always seems busy during the week but you can get a quiet place in a pub or a restaurant after the busy lunch hour 😊

Have a great time discovering, and exploring Leadenhall Market, London’s best kept secret!

Georgina xx


FAQ’s on Leadenhall Market

Here are some frequently asked questions about Leadenhall Market which you may have thought about as well:

1 | Is Leadenhall Market worth visiting?

Absolutely! Without a doubt, Leadenhall Market is worth visiting. It’s historic significance, unique architecture, the many food scenes, the vibrant, bright and airy atmosphere along with the cobbled floors all add to the feel of being “elsewhere” in London. A destination that must be experienced.

2 | What is special about Leadenhall Market?

While its rich heritage and stunning architecture dates back 700 years, it is a ‘marketplace’ with all the clinks and clanks, the noise of chatter and the buzz. Added to this unusual atmosphere in the City of London are modern high-end shops, bars and eateries. Absolutely a special place to visit.

3 | Who designed Leadenhall Market?

The architect behind the design of Leadenhall Market that we see today was Horace Jones.

4 | What borough is Leadenhall Market?

Leadenhall Market is located in the prominent City of London financial district. It is one of the oldest markets in London since early 1400s.


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Leadenhall Market — London’s Best Kept Secret via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Leadenhall Market — London’s Best Kept Secret via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

7 Key benefits of the London Pass

7 Key Benefits of the London Pass and What to expect when you buy the London Pass

The London Pass

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Save time and money when you visit London – pre-order The London Pass. The London Pass is a popular all-encompassing city of London pass giving you access to over eighty attractions for one low price over your selected number of days. A must-have city of London pass if you are spending a couple of days in London and you want to max your visits to iconic landmarks while saving money. There are 7 key benefits of the London Pass you need to know and here they are:

The London Pass

Benefits of the London Pass

best ways to visit Tower of London

See all that London has to offer with this valuable sightseer credits package giving you access to 80+ attractions, castles, tours and museums.

1 | Sightseeing credits package to suit your budget

Select your sightseeing credits package from 1,2,3,4,5,6 or 10 day duration and enjoy access to your attractions in one price. The London Pass helps you to plan ahead of the attractions you want to visit and to curate your itinerary to suit your budget.

2 | Touch free digital tickets

Once you have selected and paid for your sightseer package, you can download the digital ticket instantly. Pay nothing at the gate. Gain access to attraction by simply showing your digital ticket at the entry point or ticket office. Some of the best attractions included in the London Pass are the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey as well as “View from the Shard”.

3 | Enjoy skip-the-line access to some top attractions

Included also are skip-the-line access to some of the selected top attractions such as the London Zoo in Regent’s Park, St Paul’s Cathedral and Hampton Court Palace.

4 | Includes a hop-on hop-off bus tour and Thames River Cruise

The London Pass includes a hop-on hop-off bus tour for one day and a Thames River cruise.

5 | Free Guidebook

Your London Pass comes with a beautifully illustrated digital guidebook that includes lots of information on each of the attractions, map, valuable shopping, dining and West End theatre discounts.

6 | Flexibility to suit personal circumstances

If you are worried about last-minute changes to your plans, the London Pass has you covered – all passes are valid for two years from date of purchase and becomes activated from your first attraction visit, thereafter your pass is valid for the remaining number of days/attraction choices purchased.

7 | Great Value

The current value (as at April 2021) starts from £54.00 per individual – great value when you consider that a standard ticket to the Tower of London for an adult is £29.90 (without donation)! With the London Pass, you have a selection of 80+ attractions to select from and if selected well, you have covered the cost by visiting two attractions already. Of course, you gain lots more given that you can visit further sights in a day. Added to this is the great flexibility you have where you could select the number of days you need to suit your itinerary.

The current value (as at August 2021) starts from £59.00 per individual – great value when you consider that a standard ticket to the Tower of London for an adult is £29.90 (without donation)! With the London Pass, you have a selection of 80+ attractions and if selected well, you have covered the cost by visiting two attractions already. Of course, you gain lots more given that you can visit further sights in a day. Added to this is the great flexibility you have where you could select the number of days you need to suit your itinerary.


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What to expect from The London Pass

Once you have selected the ideal duration for your pass and have paid, you could download digital ticket and save it on your mobile device. Gain access to 80+ attractions by simply scanning your ‘ticket’ at the gate. Enjoy some of the most fascinating sights London has to offer, with skip-the-line access to glorious sights like St Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Kensington Palace. Relax onboard a Thames River Cruise, and explore London onboard a hop-on-hop-off bus.

Select from 1 – 10 days credit package to suit your itinerary. Download your ‘ticket’ and London is for your taking!

Here are some of the unmissable activities included in the London Pass:

1 | Visit  Tower of London with the London Pass

The Tower of London is one of the world’s most famous fortresses and has been a royal palace, prison, armoury and even a zoo!

Please know that this activity requires prior reservations. Book your spot by following the instructions on the guidebook. Suggested duration is 2 hours but 3 hours is highly recommended for an immersive experience of this London’s landmark.

View post: Beyond the Walls of London Fortress

2 | Enjoy the   Big Bus Tours

Hop and off as much as you want with a 1-day classic London Hop-on Hop-off tour. See all of London’s top sights at your own pace with this London sightseeing bus. Some tours include a knowledgeable guide on board who will point out the must-sees while explaining their cultural and historic significance as you go.

PLEASE NOTE: You need to pick either Big Bus OR Golden Tours services for the duration of your 1-Day Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour. You cannot use on both services and is valid for 1-day only.

3 | Journey UP –  The View from The Shard

Journey to a height of up to 800ft (244m); to the top of London’s tallest observation platform and premium visitor attraction.

Know that this activity requires advanced reservations and you can book your slot by following the instructions in the included guidebook. Recommended duration is 1 hour.

4 | Experience The Thames – Uber Boat by Thames Clippers – London Eye (Waterloo) Pier

Without a doubt, Thames river cruise is one of the best ways to see London! Relax in the comfort of a modern, all-weather Thames Clippers’ Uber Boat while you meander through the heart of the city, past so many of its most famous attractions.

Redeem your pass for a River Roamer ticket that allows you unlimited use for one day, and hop on and off as you like!

5 | Stop At:   Uber Boat by Thames Clippers – Greenwich Pier

This journey aboard a Thames Clipper makes travel in London an adventure. The river bus service stops at world-famous London landmarks every 20 minutes making sightseeing super easy.

Redeem your pass for a River Roamer ticket that allows you unlimited use for one day, and hop on and off as you like!

View post: Greenwich > 45 experiences and more in 1 day

6 | Visit the iconic  Tower Bridge London

Tower Bridge is one of the most impressive structures and sites in the capital and has stood over the River Thames since 1894. Recommended duration is 1 hour.

7 | Visit the Palaces

Stop At:   Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is the former home of King Henry VIII. Visit this iconic landmark, just a stone’s throw of London and learn all about the Tudor living and the ghosts that walk the corridors of the Palace.

Know that this activity with the London Pass requires advanced reservations. Follow the instructions on the included guidebook. Recommended duration is 3 – 4 hours.

8 | Stop At:   Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace has been home to the royal family since the 17th century. Now, it is the official residence to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Visit this extraordinary palace for a peek into Queen Victoria’s childhood and afterwards, time permitting, walk around the sunken garden to experience the peace and tranquility that surrounds this royal palace.

This activity with the London Pass requires advanced reservation and you could book your preferred time-slot by following the instructions on the included guidebook. Recommended duration is 2 to 3 hours.

9 | Explore the dark side of London with the London Pass – Stop At:   The London Bridge Experience

The London Bridge Experience is a unique and interactive journey through the deep, dark history of London. Travel through time and take a look at 2000 years’ worth of history within London Bridge and the surrounding area. Recommended duration is 2 hours 

10 | Visit the   Westminster Abbey

This beautiful Gothic church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site popular with many visitors to London. Associated with kings and queens of England, the Westminster Abbey is a landmark not to be missed. Recommended duration 1 to 2 hours.

11 | Stop at the remarkable St. Paul’s Cathedral

Situated near the River Thames , St, Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most historic buildings, designed by Britain’s famed architect, Sir Christopher and one that should top every visitor’s list. Designed by Britain’s famous architect Sir Christopher Wren. Recommended duration is 2 hours.

Read: Why St Paul’s Cathedral is a special place to visit

12 | Stop At:   Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall London is one of London’s most prestigious historic buildings and tourist attractions. Few venues can rival the venue for the variety of world-class events that have taken place there – From Adele to Ali and Wagner to Winston Churchill. This activity requires advanced reservations. Follow the instructions on the included guidebook. Recommended duration is 1 hour.

13 | Stop At:   Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these magnificent London gardens, glasshouses, and galleries are a living exhibit as well as an important historical legacy. This activity requires advanced reservations. Follow the instructions on the included guidebook. Recommended duration is 2 to 3 hours.

14 | Stop At:   Royal Observatory Greenwich

Discover the past, present and future wonders of astronomy at the center of time! Take a fascinating journey through the historic home of British astronomy, Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the World and explore Flamsteed House, the original astronomer’s apartments. Recommended duration 1 to 2 hours. Plan your trip to co-incide with the ‘red-ball’ drop.

Read all about the ‘red-ball’ drop and the Royal Observatory + Planetarium before your visit.

15 | Take a breather at the  Cutty Sark, Greenwich

Cutty Sark is the last surviving tea clipper, and the fastest and greatest of her time. Delve into the adventures of this iconic ship and her crew in an immersive experience that brings her fascinating history to life. Follow in the footsteps of those who sailed her, explore interactive displays that evoke the sights, smells and sounds of life at sea, enjoy sweeping views of the Thames, and walk right underneath the ship’s gleaming hull to touch a piece of world history. Recommended duration is 1 to 2 hours.

Read: Cutty Sark Greenwich

Read: Greenwich in 1 day – 45 experiences and more.

16 | Experience the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with the London Pass

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is an open-air playhouse built as a reconstruction of the building where the great playwright penned many of his plays. Recommended duration 2 hours.

17 | Stop At:  ZSL London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo has been educating and inspiring visitors since opening to the public in 1847, it’s a great family day out right in the center of Regent’s Park. Recommended duration is 2 hours.

View: Tours of Parks and Gardens in London

18 | Home of Windsor Castle, Berkshire

A short train ride to the outskirts of London sits the impressive and historic Windsor Castle, residence of the British royal family. Famous for its architecture, the Castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion. Recommended duration is 2 hours.

Read: Windsor Castle and Windsor in 1 day

19 | Stop At:   ArcelorMittal Orbit

Ascend to two viewing platforms (at 76 and 80m high) and overlook the Olympic tracks where world records were set – and broken – and where top athletes drew blood, sweat and tears. The Orbit is the perfect attraction to get an exclusive insight into the iconic sporting structure and its nail-biting history. Recommended duration is 1 hour.

20 | Stop At: Handel & Hendrix in London

Make your way up the wonky, 250 year old stairs and step back in time into George Frideric Handel’s music rooms. This is iconic place where he composed, rehearsed and performed with the leading musical luminaries of the Baroque age. Recommended duration is 1 hour.

21 | Be blown away at  Wembley Stadium

A short journey from central London is Wembley Stadium, London’s largest and most prestigious sporting stadium. It is the home of the England football team, the venue for all domestic club competitions such as the world famous FA Cup and host of both the 2011 and 2013 UEFA Champions League Finals. Recommended duration is 1 hour.

22 | The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London

The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace is a permanent space dedicated to an astonishing and wide-ranging collection of paintings, sculpture and other works of art as well as a glittering array of priceless treasure held in trust for the Nation by Her Majesty The Queen. Recommended duration is 1 hour.

23 | The Household Cavalry Museum, London

Household Cavalry Museum is unlike any other military museum because it offers a unique ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at the work that goes into the ceremonial duties and operational role of The Household Cavalry.

From a glazed screen inside the Museum, visitors can view into the working stables of The Queen’s Life Guard. Recommended duration is 2 hours.

24 | The Guards Museum with the London Pass

The Guards Museum London is a fascinating insight into the history of the military in the capital and is unique among London museums as it was not originally intended for public view. Recommended duration is 1 hour.

25 | Stop At:   The Monument to the Great Fire of London

Built to commemorate the Great Fire of London, The Monument is one of the best ways to enjoy spectacular views of London while learning about an important moment in London’s history. Recommended duration is 1 hour or less.  

26 | Visit Chelsea FC Stadium Tour & Museum

Part of the Chelsea FC Stadium Tour is a visit to the changing rooms where Chelsea’s world famous squad spends many tense and season-defining moments. You will also experience the atmosphere of this enigmatic space and relive the drama experienced there both in recent and historic games.

This visit requires prior reservation and you could book your slot by following instructions on the included guidebook. Recommended duration is 2 hours.

27 | The  Freud Museum, London

Recommended duration is 1 hour.

28 | Learn about transportation at the   London Transport Museum with the London Pass

Visit this lively exhibition and explore the powerful link between transport and the growth of modern London. Recommended duration is 1 hour.

29 | Visit the world-class Science Museum, Kensington, London

The Science Museum is home to a world-class collection that aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives. With its IMAX Theatre, transport to a place you’ve never been before. On a giant screen the height of four double-decker buses and size of 64 parked taxis, you don’t just see an IMAX film, you feel like you’re part of the action.

This activity requires prior reservation and you could select your preferred time by following the instructions on the included guidebook. Recommended duration is 2 to 3 hours but if you have more time, will be great as there are lots to see.

30 | Stop At:   The Kia Oval

The Kia Oval is one of the world’s most famous sports grounds and has been home to Surrey County Cricket Club since 1845. The Kia Oval also boasts the title of the birthplace of cricket’s Ashes, the host of football’s first ever FA Cup Final in 1872, along with early rugby Internationals.

This activity requires advanced reservations. Follow the instructions on the included guidebook. Recommended duration is 2 hours.

31 | Beefeater Gin Distillery – one of London’s best kept secret!

The Beefeater Gin Distillery is the Home of Gin. The visitors centre hosts an interactive experience that lifts the lid on the extraordinary stories and events behind one of the world’s favorite spirits.

This activity requires prior reservation – please book, following the instructions in the included guidebook. Recommended duration is 2 hours.

32 |  London Bicycle Tour Company.

Enjoy a Bicycle Tour of London with an expert guide (multiple languages available), or choose a bike rental and go on your own. Bike Hires can be redeemed from 11am and requires prior reservation. Follow the instructions on the included guidebook. Recommended duration is 3 hours.  

33 |  Charles Dickens Museum

34 | Imagine sailing the mighty seas – visit the Golden Hinde with the London Pass

Visit this living-history museum and find out what it was like to sail the mighty seas aboard an Elizabethan galleon during the adventurous days of the 16th century. Explore the full-size reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake’s sixteenth-century flagship and interact with the crew of sailors as they tell tales of life aboard the Golden Hinde.

Recommended duration: 1 hour 

35 | Explore the Emirates Stadium, London

The Arsenal museum forms part of the self-guided tour which enables visitors to explore behind-the-scenes of Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal Football Club. The stadium tour includes access to the Arsenal museum but should visitors wish to go to the museum independently they can. Recommended duration is 2 hours.

36 | Twickenham Stadium, London

Nowhere in England is more important to rugby union than Twickenham Stadium, home to England Rugby and the World Rugby Museum (WRM) – this is the ultimate experience for the rugby enthusiast. Recommended duration – 2 hours. 

37 |  Curzon Soho with the London Pass

Infused with a heady mix of both celebrity and talent, this Soho cinema has three screens on three floors and is regularly used for industry awards evenings, private screenings and film festivals, making it a very special cinema indeed.

Recommended duration – 2 hours. 

38 | Stop At:   Curzon Mayfair Screen with the London Pass

One of the biggest in central London. This renowned cinema presents up to twelve premieres a year and many other gala events, so you never know which celebrity or Royal personage last sat in your seat. Duration: 2 hours.

39 | Stop At:   Curzon Bloomsbury

Recently refurbished to the highest technology and design, the Curzon Bloomsbury plays regular host to festivals, screenings, director Q&A’s and the London Socialist Film Cooperative screenings. Duration: 2 hours 

40 | Visit: The Postal Museum

From its beginnings 500 years ago to the Mail Rail and Great Train Robbery, explore the surprising story of communication at The Postal Museum.

This activity requires prior reservations. Follow the instructions on the included guidebook. Duration: 1 hour 

41 |  Chelsea Physic Garden with the London Pass

Often cited as one of a few ‘secret’ London gardens, the Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673 and is still committed to research into ‘the properties, origins and conservation of over 5000 species’. Duration: 2 hours 

42 | Visit: Eltham Palace and Gardens

Eltham Palace is an impressive historical site that has been linked with a distinguished line of Royal figures since its construction in the 1300s. For hundreds of years it was a key residence for the monarchy, even housing a young Henry VIII.

This activity requires advanced reservations. Follow the instructions on the included guidebook. Duration: 2 hours 

43 | Visit: QUEENS skate dine bowl with the London Pass

London’s only ice rink, established in 1931, QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl also has it’s own bar and café, 12 brand new ten-pin bowling lanes as well as a Retro Arcade Games Room, including favorites such as Mario Kart, Street Fighter II, Tron and more. Please note:

This activity requires advanced reservations and you could book your preferred time by following the instructions on the included guidebook. Duration: 2 hours 

44 | Stop At:   Jason’s Trip

Jason’s Trip is the original Regent’s Canal tour and has been operating since 1951. Jason is an authentic 108-year-old canal boat which was originally used as a cargo-vessel on the canals before being fitted with a diesel engine and converted to passenger-carrying duties. Duration: 1 hour 


And so much more!!

Plan ahead and buy the London Pass from your preferred tour supplier for immediate download.

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7 best ways to visit the Tower of London

Best Ways to Visit the Tower of London

Whilst we work hard to provide accurate and the best information possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out.

From medieval fortress, to unbelievable grim executions, infamous royal prisoners and home to the most famous and priceless of British treasures, the Tower of London has been the centre of London’s compelling history. Built by William the Conqueror, the historic castle has been the keeper of long-standing traditions and royal secrets. A visit to this iconic landmark and you will experience the remarkable architecture, the towers, and the defensive walls that makes this structure a formidable castle and the most secure one in the land.

Learn more about the secrets of the castle and the traditions at the Tower that continues to be observed till today by selecting one of the best ways to visit the Tower of London suggested below.

Grey turrets and a flag pole dominates the skyline at the Tower of London.
Grey turrets and a flag pole dominates the skyline at the Tower of London | Image: georgina_daniel

The Tower of London is conveniently located along River Thames with easy access to public transportation, with Tower Hill being within minutes of walking distance. As always, Timeless Travel Steps brings you only the best in information and offers to add value to your experiences in London when you visit. This page is dedicated to best ways to visit the Tower of London, bringing you carefully selected value for money experiences designed to enhance your visit. Further suggestions on activities to experience wider London is included also.

How best to visit the Tower of London

Ways to experience the Tower of London

As you may know, there are a number of ways to visit the Tower of London. From a standard stand-alone entrance ticket to the Tower to combined tickets together with other attractions in the city of London. Some combinations offer great value for money and it’s worth knowing which is best. At the same time, you may have to consider the length of your stay as well. For longer stays, it might be worth buying one of the city passes with discounted entrance to some attractions. However long you select to visit London or how many of London-sights you wish to visit, below is a guide to help you make the best of your visit.

7 best ways to visit the Tower of London

Good to know about your admission ticket to the Tower:

Your admission ticket to the Tower of London gives you access to all of the below:

>> Yeoman Warders at various points inside the Tower who tell captivating stories of the history and traditions of the Tower;

>> Special exhibitions and live re-enactments of historic moments;

>> The Crown Jewels;

>> The White Tower;

>> Battlements, Medieval Palace, Bloody Tower, Torture at the Tower exhibition, Fusiliers Museum and Royal Mint exhibition.

Here are the 7 best ways to visit the Tower of London.

1 | Standard Tickets to the Tower of London

Standard tickets are intended for single use, one time entry to the Tower of London. These are available for children, adults and seniors. You can purchase these either at the ticket offices at the Tower or online prior to visiting.

Ticket typeWith donation (£)No donation (£)
Adult (18-64)32.9029.90
Child (5-15)16.4014.90
Concession (age 65+|16-17|full-time student |disabled visitor)26.40 24.00
Family saver 1 (1 adult + 3 children – 5 to15yrs)57.5052.20
Family Saver 2 (2 adults + up to 3 children – 5 to 15 yrs90.4082.10
Prices are correct at time of writing April 2021 | Info from https://www.hrp.org.uk/

2 | Historic Royal Palaces Membership

One of the best ways to visit the Tower of London is with a Historic Royal Palaces annual membership. With an annual membership, you will enjoy free and unlimited visits to the historic palaces and gardens and this includes the Tower of London. An annual membership of a single adult is £59.00, Joint is £89.00, and family tickets includes up to six children are also available.

NB: Prices are correct as at time of writing April 2021

3 | The London Pass

best ways to visit Tower of London

The London Pass is an all encompassing digital ticket that gives you access to 80+ top attractions, museums and tours in the city of London. The purchase also includes a beautifully curated comprehensive 160 page digital guidebook, with information of attractions, money saving tips, and maps, making this option one of the best ways to visit the Tower of London because Admission to Tower of London is FREE with the London Pass.

Good to know about the London Pass

>> Touch-free digital London Pass available instantly;

>> The London Pass is a complete sightseer credits package giving you access to top 80+ attractions, tours and museums;

>> Includes an informative FREE digital guidebook with maps, tips and valuable offers on shopping, dining and West End theatre tickets;

>> Skip-the-line access to selected top attractions in London such as St Paul’s Cathedral and London Zoo in Regent’s Park.

>> One day hop-on hop-off bus tour, covering three routes with over sixty stops including stops at Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and St Paul’s Cathedral.

>> Extra flexibility in case your travel plans change at the last minute – Valid for two years from time of purchase and before activation of first attraction visit.

Read > What you need to know and the benefits of London Pass

Buy London Pass from your preferred tour provider.

4 | London Explorer Pass

best ways to visit the Tower of London

The London Explorer Pass offers yet another best ways to visit the Tower of London. The London Explorer Pass is a money saver on combined admission prices to top attractions in London. You select from two, three, four, five or seven attractions. You choose where you would like to redeem your attraction credits from a list of top London attractions which includes Tower of London.

Select Tower of London as one of your preferred money saver combined attraction for FREE admission.

Good to know about the London Explorer Pass

>> Save up to 39% on combined admission of regular door prices to over 50 attractions, monuments, river cruises and tours;

>> Create your own itinerary from a selection of attraction – 2,3,4,5,or 7 attractions and pay for what you select. In its simplest form, best to think of it as 1 attraction = 1 credit;

>> Skip the line access at selected attractions;

>> Select top attractions such as Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral, Thames River Cruises and one day hop-on hop-off bus tours;

>> Instant download digital London Explorer Pass;

>> Explore at ease – show your touch-free digital ticket at the gates and walk right-in;

>> Enjoy the flexibility – London Explorer Pass is valid for 60 days from the time of first activation giving you plenty of time to schedule your visits;

Read > What you need to know about the London Explorer Pass and the benefits of the Explorer Pass

Buy London Explorer Pass from your preferred tour supplier:

5 | Join a Small Group Guided Walking tour

Join a small group of visitors led by a London expert guide who will take you to the most popular sites in London depending on the type of tours you select. Get the real London experience from a local, and afterwards explore at your own pace.

Good to know about Small Group Guided Tours

>> Benefit from a knowledgeable guide who knows the city and its history well enough to give you an informative and fun tour. More often than not, they make history come alive with entertaining, gripping tales, and generally, about life in London.

>> Guided tours are generally good value for money as you get to see more within a few hours.

>> Meet new people and makes new friends!

There are several small group guided tours available as these are some of the best ways to visit the Tower of London but below are 3 that are curated to maximise your experience at the Tower of London.

1 | Meet the Beefeater! Skip-the- line to one of the oldest monuments in London and meet the Yeoman Warders. They are more popularly known as Beefeaters, a group of elite guardsmen who were historically responsible for the prisoners of the Tower and for protecting the Crown Jewels.

2 | Early Access Tour of the Tower

Skip-the-line and view the iconic landmark + Crown Jewels as soon as the Tower opens and afterwards, visit the Tower Bridge and the engine room. Tour lasts approx. 3 hours.

3 | Tower of London + Thames River Walk

In a group of no more than 30, visit the Tower + Crown Jewels + Armouries and, afterwards enjoy the walk along River Thames, with a stop at Borough Market, London’s oldest food market.

6 | Private Tours of the Tower of London

Get a personalised experience from a knowledgeable guide who will share all the gruesome details and the stories of the Tower which you will thoroughly enjoy as one of the best ways to visit the Tower of London. Walk the wall of the iconic formidable castle in the land and take-in the picturesque views of the marvellous city.

Peruse the following carefully selected three private tours as one of the best ways to visit the Tower of London.

7 | Tower of London + City highlights tour

Experience the best of London by combining spectacular sights of London and a visit to the Tower – explore the city by bus and on foot.


Other experiences alongside visiting Tower of London

When visiting the Tower of London and London, you may want to add one of the following destinations to your itinerary:

St Paul’s Cathedral, London

Visit one of London’s leading attraction, an architectural masterpiece and a historical monument in the very heart of London. Select one or more ways to explore this landmark and save money along the way.

St Paul's Cathedral
5 rewarding ways to experience st paul's

Greenwich, London

Visit the quintessentially English town of Greenwich, where Time began and spend the day exploring the 45 experiences that this town has to offer every visitor.

Greenwich in one day

Venture a little further and go on a day trip…

London has so much to offer visitors and there’s much more to be experienced by venturing out a little from the City – the following two destinations are highly recommended. Read more on Windsor, the royal palace and on Stonehenge, a sophisticated architecture by navigating via the images below. A complete guide on how to get to the respective destinations are also included:

Windsor + Windsor Castle in one day
Stonehenge - A sophisticated architecture

If you plan to visit any one, both or other destinations outside London city, you may want to consider taking the train to your destination. London has an extensive rail network and you are never too far away from a train station. Learn more about UK’s train network from this complete guide on Trainline in Britain. You could also enjoy a train ride onboard a royal steam train for timeless memories. Check your journey and its cost from the following Trainline graphic.

On a final note…

London is an amazing, a culturally rich City where history abounds and the Tower of London is pretty much the beginning of it all. While the Tower is one of the most visited landmark in London, the City offers much more to its visitors than the normal touristic destinations. From secret gardens to gardens in the sky, from royal palaces to walkie-talkie buildings, from street names to colourful tunnels, along with huge foodie experiences that will totally transform you, London is a city that must be explored.

Sincerely wish that this post has been valuable to you in planning your visit to the Tower of London and London. If so, do share your thoughts in comments below. Please also use the links embedded in this article and all related articles to book your visits. A commission is earned from qualifying purchases at no cost to you and this supports in maintaining Timeless Travel Steps. As always, your support is much appreciated.

Have a super awesome time exploring Tower of London and London.

Georgina xx

Quick facts about the Tower of London:

map with pin on london | ultimate guide to Tower of London
51.5081° N, 0.0759° W

Location: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB | London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Area: 16 acres

White Tower: Height: 27 metres (89ft);

Built: 1078

Expansion: Inner Ward: 1190s, rebuilt 1285;

Protected: UNESCO;

Importance: Cultural;

Guard: Yeoman Warders;

Managed: Historic Royal Palaces (charity)

Nearest Underground station: Tower Hill

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Bringing you only the best, here are 7 carefully selected value for money suggestions on Ways to Visit the Tower of London | Things to do in London | Ways to Experience London | Ways to Experience Tower of London | Visit the Tower of London | Beyond the Walls of the Tower | London Attractions | London Travel | Visit London | What to see in London | Things to do in London | Must visit in London | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Bringing you only the best, here are 7 carefully selected value for money suggestions on Ways to Visit the Tower of London | Things to do in London | Ways to Experience London | Ways to Experience Tower of London | Visit the Tower of London | Beyond the Walls of the Tower | London Attractions | London Travel | Visit London | What to see in London | Things to do in London | Must visit in London | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

5 Rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London

5 Rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London

A landmark of London, St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most visited attraction and it never fails to leave visitors in awe. There are many rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London from a stand alone entry ticket with full access to all floors to private guided tours so you get to know of its history from a knowledgeable source. However, for great value for money tours, you could always combine a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral with a visit to other landmarks in London. In addition, you could purchase the London Pass for over several days so you could explore London at your own pace.

Whichever way you choose to learn more of St Paul’s Cathedral, the following 5 rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral have been carefully selected to enhance and add value to your visit.

Entry ticket to St Paul’s Cathedral

5 rewarding ways to experience St Pauls Cathedral | A glimpse of the interior of St Paul's Cathedral. The nave where the choir sits on both sides.
A glimpse of the interior of St Paul’s Cathedral. The nave where the choir sits on both sides | Image: georgina_daniel

Enjoy this famous landmark of London with a discounted entry ticket. This ticket gives you access to the Cathedral floor and its crypt, its three galleries, affording you panoramic views over London.

This option is suitable for visitors who wish to explore this beautiful Cathedral at their own pace. Nevertheless, 2 to 3 hours is recommended for a rewarding and immersive experience.

Buy entry ticket to St Paul’s Cathedral from Get Your Guide here

Combining St Paul’s Cathedral with other attractions in London

1 | Explore London on foot

Explore the City on foot and learn of London’s history. See 30 of London’s landmarks including the 1400 year old St Paul’s Cathedral.

This walking tour begins in Green Park, London and will take you through about 30 landmarks in London including:

Buckingham Palace | Trafalgar Square | Big Ben | Downing Street | Westminster Abbey | Whitehall | Houses of Parliament | London Eye | Shakespeare’s Globe Theater | London Bridge | Southwark Cathedral | The Shard | HMS Belfast | Square Mile | Tower Bridge | Tower of London

Your final stop is St Paul’s Cathedral where your guide will leave you to explore the Cathedral at your own pace. Entry to St Paul’s is included in this tour price

This tour takes approximately 6 hours and requires good footwear.

2 | St Paul’s Cathedral + London Eye + Tower of London + Thames River Cruise

Join this full day tour of London city which will take you on a historic journey of London – from Tower of London, Greenwich and St Paul’s Cathedral. Marvel at the magnificent Crown Jewels at the Tower, explore Greenwich on foot, enjoy the marvelous panoramic views over the city from the iconic London Eye. As well, learn more of London while on a cruise of the famous River Thames.

This tour includes admission to the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral. As always, when on a London tour, wear appropriate footwear.

3 | Westminster + St Paul’s Cathedral Walking tour

This comprehensive walking tour takes you through the popular area of Westminster in London. Learn much from your knowledgeable guide before arriving at St Paul’s Cathedral where the tour guide leaves you to explore the Cathedral at your own pace.

Entry to St Paul’s Cathedral is included in this tour and is provided by our Trusted Partner, Viator, a Tripadvisor company.

4 | Enjoy London on a London hop-on hop-off bus tour

Design an itinerary on London and explore the city at your own pace with one of these great value for money hop-on hop-off bus experiences. Hop-on and hop-off as much as you like between six different bus routes for the duration of your ticket and explore on foot with free walking tours. See Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Piccadilly Circus, London Eye, Tower of London, and much more with this offer. This offer is subject to T & Cs as it depends very much on whether your purchase is for 24, 48 or 72 hours.

5 | Enjoy London with over 80+ attractions with The London Pass

Access over 80 attractions and one day of hop-on hop-off bus tour with this highly recommended discounted London Pass. Valid for the selected duration of 1 to 10 days (from first activation), the London Pass comes with a guide book packed with helpful tips, and maps, making this selection one of the many rewarding ways to experience St Paul’s Cathedral London.

Recommended read: 7 key benefits of the London Pass and what to expect when you buy one!

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St Paul's Cathedral is one of the most visited attraction and it never fails to leave visitors in awe. Here are 5 rewarding ways to experience St Paul's Cathedral London via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/St Paul's Cathedral is one of the most visited attraction and it never fails to leave visitors in awe. Here are 5 rewarding ways to experience St Paul's Cathedral London via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

The Boleyn Family | Who were they and What happened to them after Anne’s death

The Boleyn Family

The Boleyn Family

The Boleyn family was one of the most respected and prominent family in English aristocracy. They reached the peak of their influence during Tudor rule when Anne Boleyn, the daughter to Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard became the second wife, Queen consort to King Henry VIII in 1533. Then in 1536, an incomprehensible tragedy fell upon them. The Boleyn family were almost destroyed! Two members of the family had their lives put to death and three fundamentally damaged.

This is their story.

This article on the Boleyn Family forms part of a series of articles on the History of Britain as an easy read on Sundays

The Boleyn Family - What happened to them after Anne's death

May 19, 1536

In 1536, on the morning of May 19, a young courageous woman, dressed in a black robe and a white ermine trim was taken to the scaffold in Tower Green that was specially built for her. She was mercilessly executed by a single swipe of a sword by a skilled French swordsman on charges of adultery, incest, treason and witchcraft. She was not even given a coffin. She was wrapped in a white cloth, placed in an old elm chest, and buried at the Tower Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.

This woman was Anne Boleyn.

Recommended read: Beyond the Walls of London Fortress

Anne Boleyn | The Boleyn Family

“Anna Bollein Queen” by Hans Holbein

Anne Boleyn was one of the three surviving children of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and 1st Earl of Ormonde and Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, the 2nd Duke of Norfolk. Her siblings were Mary, older to Anne and George, her younger brother. Anne is said to be an intelligent, witty, proud and a principled individual.

Anne Boleyn | Early years and Education

Anne spent her early years at Hever Castle, the Boleyns family home before she went to Netherlands and France. Anne received good education, typical for woman of her status. She spoke French fluently and she dressed well, bringing French fashion to the English court. She also learnt music, dance and singing along with archery, horseback riding and hunting.

Recommended read: The Magnificent Hever Castle | Anne Boleyn’s Childhood Home

Anne Boleyn | Marriage

Anne Boleyn married King Henry VIII officially on June 1 1933 in an elaborate ceremony followed by a banquet and became queen consort. She was pregnant at that time and gave birth to Elizabeth on September 7 1533. Elizabeth would later inherit the throne and become Queen Elizabeth I. However, Henry desperately wanted a male heir, and he soon fell for Jane Seymour, Anne’s cousin.

Anne Boleyn | Charges, Trial and Execution

In May of 1536, Anne was arrested, charged with incest, adultery with four men, treason and witchcraft. She was taken to the Tower of London to await her trial. The charges were instigated by her former friend, Thomas Cromwell. These charges sat well with the King also as he wanted to be rid of Anne as well. Anne was found guilty on all counts at a trial held on May 15 1536.

Read the full story here – Anne Boleyn | The most magnificent of Tudor Queens.

Thomas Boleyn | 1st Earl of Wiltshire, 1st Earl of Ormonde (1477-1539)

Thomas Boleyn | Wikidata

Thomas Boleyn was an English nobleman, a diplomat and a politician. He was made Knight of the Garter in 1523, Viscount Rochford in 1525 and Earl of Wiltshire and Earl of Ormond in 1529. Father to Anne Boleyn (r. 1533-1536) and maternal grandfather to Queen Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603).

Born in 1477 at Blickling Manor in Norfolk, Thomas Boleyn was the son of Sir William Boleyn (1451-1505) of Blickling and Lady Margaret Butler (1454-1539), daughter of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond.

Blickling was owned by Sir William’s father, Sir Geoffrey Boleyn a wealthy London merchant who served as Lord Mayor of London. He purchased the manor of Blickling, Norfolk in 1452 from Sir John Fastolf. He also came to own Hever Castle in Kent in 1462.

Thomas Boleyn | Career and Marriage

Thomas was an ambitious man who was a successful diplomat and courtier. He was active in the court of Henry VII and in 1503, he escorted Princess Margaret Tudor to Scotland to marry King James IV.

He married Lady Elizabeth Howard, eldest daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and they had three surviving children:

Mary Boleyn (c.1499 – July 19 1543)

Anne Boleyn (c.1501 – May 19 1536)

George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford (c.1504 – 17 May 1536).

Thomas Boleyn was said to be a loving father, who had grand ambitions for his children. He ensured each received excellent education, both languages and skills, while he continued to build his reputation at court. While he was an ambassador to the Netherlands, he secured a position for his daughter, Anne at the court of the Archduchess Margaret of Austria.

Later, in 1514, he secured a position for both his daughters to accompany Princess Mary, Henry VIII’s sister to France for her marriage to 52 year old King Louis XII.

Thomas Boleyn | What happened after Anne’s Execution

After the execution of his children, Anne and George in 1536, he was stripped of his titles and removed from royal favour. However, it is said that he was soon back in favour in the royal court. He was active in squashing the rebellion of the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536. He was invited to Edward VI’s christening in October 1537. By 1538, he was rumoured to marry Margaret Douglas, niece to Henry VIII. When he died, Henry VIII ordered masses to be said for his soul, clear evidence that Thomas Boleyn was back in favour.

Recommended read: Ghosts of Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Thomas Boleyn | Final days

Before his death, Thomas Boleyn appears to have taken steps to reconcile with his only surviving daughter, Mary Boleyn. He allowed Mary and her husband to live in Rochford Hall in Essex, and upon his death, he left the Rochford estate to Mary.

Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire died on March 12 1539 at Hever Castle – just under three years after the death of his daughter, Anne and his son, George.

An elaborate memorial brass to Sir Thomas Boleyn at St Peter’s Church, Hever | Photo: Free stock images.

He was laid to rest at St Peter’s Church, Hever. Topped with an elaborate memorial brass depicting Thomas dressed in robe and insignia of a Knight of the Garter, a badge on his left breast and a garter around his left knee. The inscription on his tomb reads:

“Here lieth Sir Thomas Bullen, Knight of the Order of the Garter, Erle of Wilscher and Erle or Ormunde, which deceased the 12th dai of Marche in the iere of our Lorde 1538”

His tomb still survives today.

Note: the date of death is 1538 because the Tudor calendar started on March 25, and not January 1.

St Peter’s Church dates back to 12th century and is open daily throughout the year. Worship has been held here for over 875 years with Sunday services said in Traditional Language.

St Peter’s Church is located next to Hever Castle, in the heart of Hever, Kent.

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire (1486-1538)

Believed to be Elizabeth Howard Boleyn

Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire was an English noblewoman, born in Arundel Castle, Sussex, the eldest daughter to Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and his first wife, Elizabeth Tilney. She was a direct descendant of King Edward I of England. Mother to Mary, Anne, George and maternal grandmother to Queen Elizabeth I. She is said to be of proud and ambitious in character.

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn | Relationship with her children

Not much is known of Elizabeth Boleyn except that she was a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth of York, the mother of King Henry VIII. When Henry VIII was crowned King of England, she was again appointed lady-in-waiting to his queen, Catherine of Aragon.

Elizabeth Boleyn’s relationship with her daughter Mary, was a strained one, probably because of Mary’s unchaste behaviour. In contrast, her relationship with daughter Anne, is said to be a positive one. They shared a special bond and Elizabeth took an interest in Anne’s early education when they were at Hever Castle. Anne was taught music, singing, and dancing. Anne also became an expert at embroidery and enjoyed poetry under her mother’s guidance.

Elizabeth was a regular at court and acted as a chaperone to Anne and Henry during their courtship. She was present at her daughter’s coronation ceremony in 1533 and possibly rode in the first carriage with the Dowager Duchess, Anne’s step-grandmother (Ives, p. 177).

When Anne was taken to the Tower of London to await her trial, she was heard to exclaim, “Oh, my mother, thou wilt die with sorrow” (Weir, p. 317-319).

After the execution of her children, Anne and George, on charges of incest and treason, Elizabeth and her husband retired to Hever Castle.

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn | Her final days

Elizabeth died on April 3 1538. She is said to have suffered from a cough and cold, but it is believed she died of a broken heart. After Mary Boleyn’s disgrace and banishment from court, losing her children, Anne and George by execution for treason and incest, her husband striped off of his titles, it is more likely that she may have died of a broken heart. She died in a property near Baynard’s Castle, home to the Abbot of Reading. She was buried in the Howard aisle of St Mary’s Church, Lambeth on April 7 1538.

St Mary’s Church located next to Lambeth Palace, was decommissioned in 1972. It is now called the Garden Museum which re-opened in 2017.

The Garden Museum dates from the medieval era to present day. The Garden Museum was founded by Rosemary and John Nicholson in 1977 in order to rescue the abandoned church of St Mary’s at Lambeth, which was due for demolition. The church is the burial place of John Tradescant (c1570 – 1638), the first great gardener and plant-hunter in British history. His magnificent and enigmatic tomb is the centre-piece of the Sackler Garden, designed to reflect Tradescant’s life and spirit.

Garden Museum

Address: 5 Lambeth Palace Rd, South Bank, London SE1 7LB

Elizabeth’s grave is not visible. It is under the wooden floor of the museum gift shop. The exact location is uncertain also as the memorial brass which marked the spot is now lost.

Mary Boleyn | Lady Mary Boleyn (c.1499-1543)

Mary Boleyn

Mary Boleyn was the older sister to Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII Queen consort.

Mary Boleyn | Education and Career

She was likely to have been educated alongside her sister, Anne and her brother, George at Hever Castle, Kent and given the education essential for young ladies of her rank and status. She was accomplished in dancing, embroidery, etiquette, household management, music, needlework, and singing along with games of chess, archery, falconry, riding and hunting.

Mary remained in England for most of her childhood. Her first trip abroad was in 1514 when she accompanied Princess Mary to France who was marrying King Louis XII. When King Louis XII died just three days after being married, most of the Queen’s maids were sent away but Mary remained.

Mary is said to have had an affair with King Francis I of France for some period between 1515 and 1519. She returned to England thereafter and was appointed lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, queen consort to Henry VIII.

She was one of Henry’s mistresses for a period of time before Henry fell in love with her sister, Anne.

Mary Boleyn | Marriage and Children

As a way to concealing Mary’s affair with King Henry VIII, and her shameful banishment from France’s court, she was married off to William Carey, a gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Mary and William had a son, Henry Carey. However, William sadly contracted the ‘sweating disease’ and died, leaving Mary with considerable debt. Henry VIII granted Anne Boleyn ward-ship of her nephew, whom she ensured was educated at a Catholic monastery. Anne also ensured that Mary received an annual pension.

In 1534, Mary secretly married William Stafford, a soldier, a status considered to be far below her own. When her marriage was discovered, her family disowned her and was also banished from the royal court. Her financial circumstances became desperate but is reported she admittedly saying:

“I had rather beg my bread with him than to be the greatest queen in Christendom. And I believe verily…he would not forsake me to be a king”

Anne stepped in to help her with some money but did not reinstate her to the court. This seems to be the closest they came to reconciling after Mary’s exile from the king’s court. There are no records of Mary between 1534 and Anne’s execution in 1536, or any records of visits with her parents or her siblings when they were imprisoned.

Mary and her father, Thomas Boleyn reconciled to some extent before he passed. Mary inherited the Rochford Hall and the Rochford Estate in Essex. .

Mary Boleyn is recorded to have four children, two carrying the name Carey and two by her second marriage, Stafford.

Catherine Carey (1524-1569) was lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. Married Sir Francis Knollys, Knight of the Garter in 1540. She became lady of bedchamber to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Her daughter, Lettice Knollys, was second wife to Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I.

Henry Carey 1st Baron Hunsdon (1526-1596), Knight of the Garter. Married to Anne Morgan and they had sixteen children. Anne Morgan was appointed to the office of Keeper of Somerset House, by Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Edward Stafford (1535-1545)

Anne Stafford (1536-unknown)

It was rumoured that Catherine Carey and Henry Carey were Henry VIII children, but there is no evidence to suggest that the King was the biological father.

Mary Boleyn Stafford | Final days

Mary Boleyn Stafford died of unknown causes on either on July 19 or July 30 1543 – the exact date is unknown. She is known to have spent her last days at Rochford Hall. However, her final resting place is unknown and remains a mystery.

George Boleyn | 2nd Viscount Rochford (c.1503-May 17 1536)

Possibly George Boleyn | Wikidata

An English nobleman and courtier, he played a prominent role in politics in the early 1530s. He is said to be intelligent, persuasive, proud and arrogant in character. He was accused of incest with his sister, Anne Boleyn, queen consort of Henry VIII. He was beheaded on May 17 1536.

Only son of Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Elizabeth Howard Boleyn, George Boleyn was born in Blickling Hall circa 1503. His first couple of years was spent at Blickling estate, but the Boleyn family moved to Hever Castle, Kent in 1505 when Thomas Boleyn inherited the castle from his father, Sir William Boleyn.

George Boleyn | Education, Career Marriage

George received excellent education. Along with his sisters, he spoke French fluently. He also mastered Italian and Latin. George is thought to have stayed in England for most of his early years.

George’s diplomatic career took off in late 1529 when he was knighted. He undertook the courtesy title of Viscount Rochford. At the young age of 25, he undertook his first ambassadorial mission to France. In total, he undertook six missions, with the final being in May 1935 where he negotiated a marriage contract between the King of France’s third son, Charles II of Orleans and his niece, baby Princess Elizabeth. In addition to his diplomatic skills, George was much admired for his linguistic and poetic talent.

George married Jane Parker in 1524. There are not much information on Jane or if they had any children but it is thought that Jane may have played a role in the judgments against George.

George Boleyn | Charges, Trial and Execution

On May 2 1536, George was arrested on charges of incest and treason and stood trial on May 15 1536. Anne was tried a few hours before George and was found guilty. As Anne was found guilty of incest, amongst other charges, before George, he could hardly be acquitted. According to trial papers, George is said to have put forward an incredible defence and many thought that he would be acquitted. There was no evidence of incest and George was convicted on a presumption.

On the morning of May 17, 1536, George along with the other four who were accused to have adulterous affairs with Anne Boleyn, were led to Tower Hill scaffold to be beheaded. George Boleyn was the first to be beheaded.

George Boleyn | Final speech

On the scaffold, George delivered a lengthy speech. Several versions of this speech exist and the following is appended from Chronicles of Calais, taken from Weir, p243.

Christian men, I am born under the law and judged under the law, and die under the law, and the law has condemned me. Masters all, I am not come hither for to preach, but for to die, for I have deserved to die if I had twenty lives, more shamefully than can be devised, for I am a wretched sinner, and I have sinned shamefully. I have known no man so evil, and to rehearse my sins openly, it were no pleasure to you to hear them, nor yet for me to rehearse them, for God knoweth all. Therefore, masters all, I pray you take heed by me, and especially my lords and gentlemen of the court, the which I have been among, take heed by me and beware of such a fall, and I pray to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, that my death may be an example unto you all. And beware, trust not in the vanity of the world, and especially in the flattering of the court. And I cry God mercy, and ask all the world forgiveness of God. And if I have offended any man that is not here now, either in thought, word or deed, and if ye hear any such, I pray you heartily in my behalf, pray them to forgive me for God’s sake. And yet, my masters all, I have one thing for to say to you: men do common and say that I have been a setter forth of the Word of God, and one that have favoured the Gospel of Christ; and because I would not that God’s word should be slandered by me, I say unto you all, that if I had followed God’s word in deed as I did read it and set it forth to my power, I had not come to this. If I had, I had been a liv[ing] man among you. Therefore I pray you, masters all, for God’s sake stick to the truth and follow it, for one good follower is worth three readers, as God knoweth.  

Weir, p243

George Boleyn endured three strokes of the axe before his head was completely severed. He is buried in the Tower Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.

As brave as he might have been on that scaffold, it is difficult to imagine what George would have gone through – a young, successful, happy, proud and arrogant English nobleman reduced a criminal in a matter of days for crimes he did not commit. Much worse were what the other four ordinary men went through watching George being beheaded while awaiting their turn. Their mutilated bodies, striped off their clothes, loaded onto a cart and taken to their graves.

May George Boleyn along with Norris, Weston, Brereton and Smeaton are now rest in peace, far away from the earthly injustice bestowed upon them.

Thoughts…on the Boleyn Family

In less than eight years since Anne Boleyn became Queen of England and Ireland, bringing with it the influence, the success, wealth and the ennoblement that Thomas Boleyn sought and enjoyed, the Boleyn family were virtually destroyed. None of the immediate family exist. The gruesome beheading, the lost of Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn must have broken Elizabeth who died less than two years later. As for Thomas Boleyn, who although returned to court, he too would have been a broken man having lost his entire family except for Mary who was estranged, and herself passed about four years later.

Recommended read: Anne Boleyn – Britain’s most well travelled ghost

Are there any survivors of the Boleyn family around today?

The Boleyn Family
The Boleyn Family | Coats of Arms

The short answer is, YES! The Boleyn lineage continued under a different surname, inherited through marriages etc. Below is what I found out, with a brief look at how it all began with the Boleyns and how they may be around today.

The Boleyns are said to be the direct descendants of Charles the Great (Charles I) who was the King of the Franks in 768 AD and King of the Lombards in 774. He was also King of the Romans in 800.

For the Boleyns, it all began with Sir Geoffrey Boleyn (1406-1453) who was a successful merchant in London. He became the Lord Mayor of London and purchased the Blickling Estate in Norfolk in 1452 and Hever Castle in 1462.

Sir Geoffrey’s son, William Boleyn followed in his father’s footsteps. He was a successful merchant and Lord Mayor of London. Sir William Boleyn (1451-1505) married Lady Margaret Butler and they had three children – Anne, Thomas and James.

Thomas Boleyn, son to Sir William and Lady Margaret, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, 1st Earl of Ormonde married Elizabeth Howard and they had three surviving children, Mary, Anne and George, whose fate, we already know.

George Boleyn married Jane Parker and there are no evidence that they had any children.

Anne Boleyn married King Henry VIII and they had one child, Elizabeth. Elizabeth went on to inherit the throne in 1558 to become Queen Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Ireland. She did not marry and did not have any children. She was queen until her death, on March 24, 1603.

Mary Boleyn married twice, and had two children with each of her marriage.

Mary’s first marriage was to William Carey in 1520 and they had two children, Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys and Henry Carey, 1st Baron of Hunsdon. Mary’s second marriage was to William Stafford in 1534 and they had two children, Anne Stafford and Edward Stafford. Unfortunately, both of the Stafford children passed at a very young age. This means, the only surviving children were the Careys.

Catherine Carey, married Sir Francis Knollys in 1540 and they had fourteen children. Henry Carey married Anne Morgan and they had sixteen children.

The Boleyn lineage – where are the Boleyns now

So, there you have it! It is likely that the Boleyn lineage is still out there through the Careys or some other surnames through marriage. Just so you know, on the anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s death each year, the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula Royal Chapel in the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn was finally laid to rest receives a bouquet of flowers sent anonymously. This tradition has been carried on for a century. Make of it what you will – is it from a Boleyn out there or could it be just a kind soul paying tribute to a queen who was so wronged by the society she lived in.

Recommended read: The Boleyn Lineage – find out how the present royal family are the direct descendants of the Boleyn.


Reader contribution:

September 8, 2021- A reader, Andrea has kindly contributed the following information. You can find Andrea’s comment and my response to Andrea’s comment by scrolling down to comments.

“Both the Queen and Queen Mother are/were direct descendants of Mary Boleyn through one of the Carey siblings. Have you seen the BBC documentary the Boleyns: a scandalous family?”


August 9, 2021 – A reader has kindly written in with the following comment which I share here:

“The earlier spelling of the surname was Bullen. This is still a surname found in Norfolk and Suffolk.” – Daniel Morgan

You can find this comment and my response to Daniel Morgan if you scroll down to comments.


Read my latest article on the Boleyn lineage

The Boleyn Lineage

History of Britain

If you love to know more on the history of Britain, you may also enjoy reading the following:

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As you may already know, the history of Britain is fascinating, intriguing and there is still so much we would love to know. These historical information adds value to our visits to some of the castles and historic buildings that still stands. As well, there are numerous authors who have written on the many aspects of our history which gives us a number of versions to ponder upon. The dates and some events may lack precise accuracy due to lack of documentary evidence. One such example, as we have seen with Anne Boleyn, where all her portraits and memorabilia were destroyed. It was illegal to own any during the reign of King Henry VIII.

In writing this article on the Boleyn family, as well as all related articles to Anne Boleyn, I have used the resources listed below in my research to ensure the information contained herein is as accurate as it can possibly be. There is a further careful selection of books written on the Boleyn which you may find interesting by navigating here.

Articles on the History of Britain which you may like to read also

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BEAUCHAMP TOWER
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Recommended for readers who want to delve deeper > Highly recommended selection of books on the Boleyns


Finally on the Boleyn Family

I sincerely hope that this article has been valuable to you in knowing more on the history of Britain and enhance your visits to Tower of London, Hever Castle, Blickling Estate in Norfolk, Hampton Court Palace and more. Subscribe now, so you are the first to know of the latest on Timeless Travel Steps.

Georgina xx

The Boleyn Family | Coats of Arms
Coats of Arms of the Boleyn Family | Founded 1283 by John Boleyn. Dissolution in 1539 upon death of Thomas Boleyn

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The Boleyn Family - What happened to them after Anne's death
The Boleyn Family

RESOURCES

Bruce, M. L. Anne Boleyn, 1982.

Fraser, A. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, 1992.

Ives, E. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, 2004.

Starkey, D. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, 2003.

Warnicke, R. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn, 1989.

Weir, A. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, 2007.

Wilkinson, J. Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress, 2009.Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings by Alison Weir (2011)

The Mistresses of Henry VIII by Kelly Hart (2009)

Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Mistress by Josephine Wilkinson (2010

Wikipedia

annebolyenfiles


The Boleyn Family | Who were they and What happened to them after Anne’s death first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly updated. Last update: September 21, 2021

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The Boleyn family was one of the most respected and prominent family in English aristocracy. Find out what happened to them via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/The Boleyn family was one of the most respected and prominent family in English aristocracy. Find out what happened to them via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Beauchamp Tower London

Beauchamp Tower London

Beauchamp Tower is easily missed as visitors seem focused on the White Tower and the Jewel Tower. Moreover, if you are limited to time, you may give Beauchamp a miss but I suggest that Beauchamp is worth a visit and deserving of a place on your list.

I discovered Beauchamp Tower on my visit as I retraced my footsteps in London. I have been to Tower of London many times before but had never visited this tower. I learnt so much of historic England from my visit here which I share with you here.

Read about the Tower of London – the Best Guide before your next visit.

Beauchamp Tower London

Beauchamp Tower sits next to the dark timbered Queen’s House overlooking the Tower Chapel and the Tower Green | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

Beauchamp, pronounced as “beecham” is one of the twenty-one towers at the Tower of London and forms part of the inner defensive wall of Tower of London. It was built between 1275 and 1281 towards the end of the first leg of modernisation of the Tower, under the reign of King Edward I.

The tower’s close proximity to the Lieutenant’s lodgings (now, the Queen’s House) made Beauchamp Tower a significant and a perfect place throughout history to accommodate high-ranking important prisoners.

There are other towers within the walls of the Tower of London which also became home to very important high status prisoners. Read about the prisoners of the Bloody Tower at the Tower of London here and the Jewel Tower, home to the Magnificent Crown Jewels.

Prisoners of the Beauchamp Tower London

Amongst the important prisoners at Beauchamp were John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and his four sons. One of the sons was Guildford Dudley, the husband to Lady Jane Grey. Here’s a brief look at the Dudleys and Lady Jane Grey.

About the Dudleys

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland was imprisoned at the Beauchamp Tower along with his four sons because he wanted his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey to be Queen of England.

John Dudley and his sons were condemned as traitors in 1553. He was executed for treason at Tower Hill on August 22, 1553. Guilford Dudley, husband to Lady Jane was executed in February 1554. Following his execution, the three brothers were pardoned and released.

About Lady Jane Grey