Ceremony of the Keys, London

Chief Yeoman Warder and Gaoler at the Tower of London © Nick Wilkinson/newsteam.co.uk

‘Who comes there?’ is the opening question from the sentry at 9:53pm without fail every night for the locking up of the Tower of London. A well-practiced ritual sees a series of tower gates locked up for the night. This has been a tradition for at least 700 years, previously to secure the monarch but now to protect the Crown Jewels and other royal valuables.

The only interruption to the ritual came during the Second World War, when the noise and shock of bombs during an air raid blew the Chief Yeoman Warder and escort over. Still, they dusted themselves down, carried on and apologised to King George VI for the late ceremony.

The Tower still holds the letter of apology along with the reply from the King stating the officer is not to be punished as the delay was due to enemy action. Tickets are free and need to be applied for by post. See the website for details.

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