One of the must do’s in London is attending the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. This unique ritual has taken place come rain or shine, peace or war, for over 700 years, and it is the nightly ceremony by which the Tower of London is secured each night.
Despite the fact that its has been several hundred years since the Monarch has actually resided at the Tower of London, it is hugely important that the fortress be secured against nefarious ne’er-do-wells as many priceless treasures, such as the Crown Jewels, are still kept at the Tower.
To this end, every night at 9.53pm the chief Yeoman Warder walks his time honoured path from the Byward Tower, a candle lantern swinging in one had and the Queen’s Keys jangling in the other, and, in the company of an armed contingent that consists of four men, he sets off to patrol the precincts of the Tower of London and lock the gates that lead into and out of the fortress.
One of the most spine-tingling, and famous, parts of this nightly ritual comes as they make their way through the Bloody Tower to be challenged by the duty sentry and the following exchange takes place.
“Halt. Who comes there?” “The keys.” “Whose keys?” “Queen Elizabeth’s keys” “Pass, Queen Elizabeth’s keys. All’s well”.
Having proceeded through the Bloody Tower the Chief Warder lifts his hat and shouts “God Save Queen Elizabeth”, to which the guard and the assembled Yeoman Warders all reply “Amen”.
As the fist strike of 10pm rings out across the night air the Last Post is sounded, at which pint the Chief Warder heads off to place the keys in the Queen’s House for the night.
It really is a great and unique ceremony and is a must do for those who are visiting London, or for those who live in London and have never attended this historical ritual on their doorstep!
Needless to say, the Ceremony of the Keys is hugely popular and it nearly always books up months in advance. But if you’ve got your tickets, and our one of the fortunate few to attend that night, then you need to be at the Tower for 9.30pm. There’s no negotiation here as late comers are simply not allowed in (and if the Tower of London decides you’re not coming in, then you’re not coming in period!)
Which is why our Jack the Ripper Tour is the perfect way to spend the evening before attending the Ceremony. We start at 7pm from Aldgate east and we end in Mitre Square, which is situated at the top of Minories a mere twenty minutes walk from the Tower and even less by cab! Your guide will be happy to give you directions, so please be sure to let us know at the start of the tour so we can ensure you get to the Tower of London with plenty of time to spare.
For details of how to attend please visit the Tower of London’s Ceremony of the Keys page.
Once you get your date confirmed then please drop by our bookings page and reserve your places on the Jack the Ripper walk.
Please be sure to tell your guide at the start of the tour that you have tickets for the Ceremony of the keys, in order that we can ensure you get there on time and without a hitch.