Probably the least known but, the best ceremony in London takes place every night at the Tower of London, and has done so in some form or another since the 14th century. At exactly 9:52pm, the Chief Yeoman Warder (Beef-Eater), dressed in Tudor Watchcoat, meets the military escort, made up of members of the Tower of London Guard. Together, the Chief Yeoman Warder and the Yeoman Warder 'Watchman' lead you into the Tower and secure the main gates of the Tower behind you. Upon their return down Water Lane, the party is halted by the sentry and challenged to identify themselves:
Sentry: Who comes there?
Chief Warder: The keys.
S: Whose keys?
CW: Queen Elizabeth's keys.
S: Pass Queen Elizabeth's Keys. All's well.
We attended the Ceremony of the Keys on a stormy, foggy September evening. There were about 20 people in the group and the Yeoman Warder who escorted us was very theatrical and entertaining. He was strict about no photography and mobile phones off so don't forget. As the ceremony itself is very short, he gave us a talk about the Tower of London and its history, as well as what would happen in the ceremony, while we were waiting. We stood outside Traitor's Gate which kept us all quiet. You let your imagination run wild as you stand in the dark. I won’t spoil the Ceremony anymore…It’s a must see
Our Yeoman Warder gave us more history about the Tower before escorting out. If your guide isn’t too rushed and the group disperses quickly, he may even tell you some tales about the “Haunted Goings On” in the Tower.
And if you are a member of a Law Enforcement Agency and a member of the International Police Association, if you can make the Ceremony on a Tuesday Night, you’ll be invited to share a pint in the Tower of London Pub with the Yeoman Warder’s (Watchmen). Just let them know when you apply.
It’s free but you much follow these steps. You can only apply in writing, by post. You need to include:
• Name of all attendees*
• At least two dates you can attend, at least two months in advance (three months in the summer)
• Self-addressed envelope with UK postage or two 'Coupon-response International'. No non-British stamps accepted.
* Up to six in a group between 1 April and 31 October and up to 15 in a group from 1 November 1st to March31st.
Send your application to:
Ceremony of the Keys Office
Tower of London
London EC3N 4AB Great Britain
Tele: 020 3166 6278
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC