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Mystery Bloody Tower postcard destined for Brussels.

Date Sent: 7 APR 1934 

Sender: Levy 

Recipient: Illegible – , 78  Av. d’Auderghem,,  Bruxelles. , Belgium 

Transcript: Ma Cher Maman – rest largely illegible 

Postcard message

Calling all decoders out there –  can you unlock the message? Your help is really needed with this one, as Levy’s penmanship leaves a lot to be desired. We’ve tried our best, but apart from working out he’s writing to his dear maman and thanks are involved (remerci), we’re none the wiser.  However, follow this link to see the address it was intended for Inventaire du patrimoine architectural (heritage.brussels). 

Levy bought his card from one of the larger postcard retailers of the period – Samuels shop at 150 the Strand was known as the ‘Postcard Depot’. Presumably, although the image is dominated by the Bloody Tower gateway with a glimpse past the Main Guard steps to the Waterloo Barracks beyond, this was not considered a suitable title at the time.  They could have revived its early sixteenth century name of the Garden Tower, but chose instead “a ‘Yeoman Jailor’ stands by the Wakefield Tower”. He may indeed be the contemporary Yeoman Gaoler – the office still exists as deputy to the Chief Yeoman Warder.  George V’s cypher on his undress uniform narrows the candidates to the four throughout his reign. Confusingly all were moustached.  Based on medals he is probably YW Gurney (1918-33), but could be YW Slocombe (1911-14). Unfortunately, the lady in the cloche hat and three- quarter length coat doesn’t pinpoint the date further.   

Tower guard under a stone arch

The keen eyed among you might notice two strange metal constructions set into the side of the outer arch on the left as you look at it. Both are still there today. The large mooring ring is a reminder that this was originally a water gate fronting directly onto the river, with double portcullis. Only the riverside one survives, complete with winding gear.  Adjacent to it is a more modern device – a horizontal iron semi-circle with vertical spikes spanning an inset corner. Its twin is on the opposite archway. Intended to dissuade tired sentries from lodging themselves upright in the angle and taking a nap on duty, they are nick-named Wellington’s armchairs, presumably after the nineteenth century Constable of the Tower.

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