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The Tower maintains its traditions

Yeoman Warders’ postcard from the Tower

Date sent: Kingston upon Thames, 9 JANUARY 1967 

Sender: N/A

Recipient: Misses C McKerr & L Stainton 12, Bardney Ave, Ashby, Scunthorpe, Lincs 

Transcription: Dear Lorice & Cher 

Thanks for the letter, I’ll write later, but I’m too tired tonight as we’ve been in Oxford street in the Sales.  There’s some fabulous thigs all you need is the money. Anyway see you next Tuesday, I’m coming home Monday as we think it’s easier.  Lots of love from Penny & Hastings X x 10 

Postcard message

As iconic custodians of the Tower of London, the Yeoman Warders are instantly recognisable in their full red and gold dress uniform. While the 1960s were in full swing for Penny and Hastings cruising Oxford street’s fabled January sales, they chose something more traditional from the Tower to send back to friends in Scunthorpe. 

The Body (yes that’s the collective noun for the Tower Yeoman Warders) can trace their origins to the late 1200s, but they didn’t get the uniform until the 1550s when Edward VI appointed them extra-ordinary Yeomen of the Guard, entitling them to wear the same full-dress livery on special occasions – give or take the odd cross belt or two.   

Yeoman warders: Beefeaters at attention

However, the 2 groups should not be confused.  

The Yeomen Warders or Waiters of the Tower of London were established to guard the site and any resident royal prisoners.  The Duke of Wellington as Constable of the Tower from 1826 – 1852 and with the interests of his Waterloo veterans in mind, reorganised the Body. Thereafter recruitment was from the ranks of “deserving, gallant and meritorious” Warrant Officers of the Army and Royal Marines with at least 22 years’ service. Today all branches of the armed services are eligible.   

The Yeomen of the Guard are the younger institution. Created by Henry VII in 1485 following his victory over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, they continue to act as the sovereign’s personal bodyguard on State occasions today.  

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