Interactive timeline - History of the RA
Before the Romans
The pre-Roman site of the Tower of London was probably occupied by an Iron Age farm.
Twilight of the Roman City
Londinium was remodelled and strengthened in response to the threat of Saxon invasion.
The Conqueror's Castle
Work began on the construction of William the Conqueror's mighty White Tower.
The Tower Enlarged
A major expansion of the Tower's defences during the reigns of Richard I and King John.
The Classic Castle
Henry III extended the defences of the Tower and refurbished and enlarged the royal lodgings.
Apogee of the Medieval Castle
Tower defences extended, to those seen today, by England's greatest warrior king, Edward I.
The Tudor Power House
During Henry VIII's reign the Offices of Ordnance, Armoury, Mint and Records occupy the Tower.
Showplace of the Nation
After the Restoration in 1660 armouries displays are established to impress the visiting public.
The Great Conflagration
The Grand Storehouse including two armouries displays is destroyed by fire on 31 Oct 1841.
Remedievalisation of the Castle
50 years of restoration transformed the appearance of the Tower following the fire of 1841.
The Castle at War
WWII aerial bombing threatens the Tower. The Main Guard is destroyed on the 29 Dec 1940.
The Tower Today
The Tower of London attracts over 2 million visitors per year as a World Heritage Site.
19th - 21st century
In 1838 the cost of visiting the Tower Armouries was cut from 3 shillings to 1 shilling and lowered again the following year to 6d. The effect of these reductions was to see visitor numbers rise from 10,500 in 1837 to 80,000 in 1839.
On the evening of 30 October 1841 the Grand Storehouse was engulfed by a terrible fire destroying most of the displays within.
During 1855 the Office of Ordnance was dissolved by Act of Parliament and the armouries collections transferred the War Office.
The shortage of display space only began to be eased with the demolition of the Horse Armoury in 1882 and the transfer of much of the collection into the upper floors of the White Tower.
The presentation of these displays and the care and identification of the individual objects was greatly improved after the appointment of the first curator, Lord Dillon, as Keeper of the Armoury in 1895. Under the supervision of his successor, Charles ffoulkes, the displays expanded to occupy the remaining floors of the White Tower by 1916.
Before then responsibility of the Tower Armouries was passed to the Office of Works in 1904 and subsequently through its successors, the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works and the Department of the Environment, until the passing of the National Heritage Act in 1983. Today the museum is funded by annual grant-in-aid from the Government.