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The Tower’s green heart.

Date sent: 3 April 1964 

Sender: Roy and John 

Recipient:  Mr W B Thompson, Woodlands, Birdcage Walk, Otley, Yorkshire 

Transcript: London / Thursday 

We are enjoying our stay in London, and hope Mrs Thompson is making good progress. 

I like this view of the famous “Tower”. It “makes a change” as they say. 

Yours  

Roy and John 

Postcard message

The Ministry of Works produced the official Tower postcards throughout the swinging sixties, moving with the times and upgrading to colour views. Keen graphologists among you will have worked out that Roy did the hard work composing and writing the postcard – John apparently an additional signatory. 

Roy’s choice of the Tower Green postcard is an unusual one, and not as iconic as the more familiar – even hackneyed – White Tower or Wharf and Tower Hill views. The timber framed buildings nestling in the far corner are known today as the Queen’s House but were formerly the Lieutenant’s lodgings, originally complete with garden.  Re-built in 1540 after much petitioning as to the parlous state of the accommodation they incorporate the remains of the earlier fourteenth century Constable’s houseand have continued to be subject to alteration and restoration.  They are a rare period survivor in the locality following the ravages of the Great Fire of London in September 1666 which was arrested just short of the Tower. The removal of the exterior plasterwork in 1915 exposed the timbers, and acts as a useful image-dating aid. 

Inner courtyard of the tower

The Lieutenant acted as second in command to the constable who had overall authority of the site and reported directly to the monarch. While titles have changed over the centuries, responsibilities have not and the Lieutenant / Deputy Lieutenant (Lieutenant-Governor) has remained the person overseeing the site’s day to day running – historically, the spider at the centre of the Tower web. Thus, their lodgings tucked in the corner of the inner ward but with sight over Water Lane was well placed to keep an eye on everything. Today, the Lieutenant of the Tower is an honorary appointment, resident off site. The office of Resident Governor and Keeper of the Jewel House merged in 1967 and is now more prosaically titled Tower Director. 

As is so often the case, we’ll never know the whole back story.  Were Mr and Mrs Thompson neighbours or friends of the boys’ families?  Perhaps Mr T was their teacher?  If you are out there Roy – or John – we’d love to know why you opted for this alternative view of the Tower.  

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