Built during the Norman Conquest in 1066, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and fortress of the Tower of London has been used as a prison, jewel house, mint and even a menagerie.

It’s been home to kings and queens, thieves and traitors and lions and bears.

In tribute to the Tower, The Royal Mint issued a four coin series throughout 2019 celebrating the history of the Tower of London, one of Britain’s most iconic attractions. The series included coins depicting the following:

  • The Legend of the Ravens
  • The Yeoman Warders
  • The Ceremony of the Keys
  • The Crown Jewels

The collection continues in 2020 with four new £5 coins featuring original designs, each exploring a different element of the Tower of London’s history. The series will include coins depicting the following:

  • The White Tower
  • The Royal Menagerie
  • The Royal Mint
  • The Notorious Prison

2020 White Tower £5

The Royal Mint has just released the first coin in the 2020 Tower of London series, with the new £5 being issued to celebrate the White Tower.

2020 UK White Tower of London £5

Designed by heraldic artist, Timothy Noad, the reverse of the coin depicts the model of the White Tower, which sits on top of the mace that the Chief Yeoman Warder carries.

In a nod to the previous collection, when all four coins are placed together, a full image of a Norman arched window can be seen, framing the design of each coin.

The White Tower £5 is available in Gold Proof, Silver Proof and Brilliant Uncirculated quality and I’m sure collectors will be eager to add this representation of our royal history to their collection.

Click here to secure your coin in Brilliant Uncirculated quality

The White Tower

Built 1078-1097 under William the Conqueror’s rule, the White Tower is the oldest part of the Tower of London and is the most famous castle keep in the world.

Built to awe, subdue and terrify Londoners, the White Tower’s ramparts, which are 90ft high, would have cast dark shadows over the wooden buildings of medieval London.

In 1674, the skeletons of two children were discovered in the White Tower, during the demolition of a staircase leading to the chapel of St. John. The bones have, for years, been speculated as the remains of the Princes in the Tower, Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York. Richard III is the name most associated with the mystery of the two little princes. It is believed that he had them killed as their right to the throne was stronger than his… Whilst this mystery is still yet to be solved, one thing’s for definite, this Tower really is a centre-piece of British History.

Now, the White Tower showcases the awe-inspiring historic and world-class Royal Armouries collections, including the royal armours of Henry VIII, Charles I and James II.

The White Tower. Source: Britannica

The Royal Menagerie

From the 1200s to 1835, the Tower of London housed a menagerie of exotic wild animals, never before seen in London, including Elephants, Lions, and Polar Bears.

The Royal Menagerie began as a result of medieval monarchs exchanging rare and strange animals as gifts (Historic Royal Palaces). In 1235, Henry III was presented with three leopards by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, inspiring him to open a zoo at the Tower.

Although many of the animals had brand new houses and dedicated keepers, they did not survive in the cramped conditions.

Therefore, Edward I (1239-1307) created a permanent new home for the Menagerie, known as the Lion Tower, named after the beasts kept there. During this time, visitors to the Tower would have first crossed a drawbridge to the Lion Tower, experiencing the terrifying sounds and smells of the animals.

Today’s world-famous London Zoo in Regent’s Park was founded by the original 150 animals moving from the Tower Menagerie.

The animals of the menagerie are commemorated by 13 wire sculptures around the Tower, by artist Kendra Haste.

The Royal Menagerie. Source: AAJ Press

Royal Mint

From 1272 until 1810, the Tower of London was home to The Royal Mint. Coins of the realm were produced in a dedicated area in the outer ward known as ‘Mint Street’. This dangerous task involved working with scorching furnaces, deadly chemicals and poisonous gases and many Mint workers suffered injuries including loss of fingers and eyes from the process.

In the 1600s, coins were no longer made by hand, but instead a screw-operated press was introduced. However, risk still befell the Mint workers, as they faced severe punishments should they be caught tampering with or forging coins.

In 1810, the Mint moved from the Tower to a new site at Tower Hill and eventually on to its present location in Wales to allow for expansion.

The Royal Mint. Source: hrp.org.uk

Infamous Prisoners

From the late 15th century and during its peak period as a prison in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Tower housed some of Britain’s most notorious criminals, including Guy Fawkes, Anne Boleyn and even Elizabeth I before she became queen. 

For those in a position of wealth, serving time at the Tower could be relatively comfortable, with some captive kings allowed to go out on hunting or shopping trips and even allowed to bring in their servants. However, for those less fortunate, the phrase “sent to the Tower” would conjure up gruesome images of torture and execution, such was its fearsome reputation.

Despite this reputation, only 7 people were executed at the Tower before the World Wars of the 20th century, where 12 men were then executed for espionage.

Tower of London. Source: hrp.org.uk

The 2020 White Tower £5 really has kick started what is set to be an incredible series. We can’t wait to see the designs for the other coins!


Secure your 2020 White Tower £5 Here

2020 UK White Tower £5

The Royal Mint has just released the first coin in the 2020 Tower of London series, with the new £5 being issued to celebrate the White Tower.

Click here to secure yours today

Are you a collector of UK Royal coins?

From celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th Birthday, to marking Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne in 1837, Royal anniversaries, birthdays and achievements have been commemorated on UK coinage for centuries.

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at what we believe to be the Top 10 UK Royal Coins of all time.


1. 2015 Longest Reigning Monarch £5

The Westminster Collection

As of 2020, HM Queen Elizabeth II became the world’s 5th longest reigning monarch! But in 2015, she became Britain’s, after 63 incredible years on the throne.

To celebrate this momentous occasion The Royal Mint issued a series of commemorative coins, including this 2015 Longest Reigning Monarch £5.

When news of the coin broke, it proved to be popular amongst coin collectors and fans of the Royal Family alike, with The Royal Mint’s website experiencing “overwhelming levels of traffic”. (The Royal Mint Blog)

Unusual in modern times, James Butler has designed both the reverse and the obverse of the coin. His new commemorative portrait of HM The Queen features on the obverse.

2. 2020 UK King George III £5

The Westminster Collection

Next up is the King George III £5 which was initially issued as part of the 2020 Annual Coin Set in January to celebrate the life and reign of Britain’s longest reigning King.

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary since his death, this is the first time that King George III has been celebrated on modern UK coinage – the last time he featured on a coin was 1820!

Included in the reverse design is the royal residence and his place of death, Windsor Palace as well as the King’s Observatory, which was founded by the King himself in 1769!

3. 2016 Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th Birthday £5

The Westminster Collection

As a nation, we’ve celebrated Her Majesty the Queen’s landmark birthdays, jubilees and wedding anniversaries during her long and eventful reign.

When Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to celebrate their 90th Birthday, the release of this £5 coin in 2016 was particularly special and hugely significant for collectors around the world.

This is the only official UK £5 coin to mark this special occasion and it features a design that was approved by The Queen herself! The 9 roses on the reverse, designed by Christopher Hobbs, each represent a decade of Her Majesty’s life.

4. 1838 The Young Head Sovereign

At just 18 years old, Alexandra Victoria acceded to the throne and ruled Britain for an incredible 63 years, making her Britain’s longest reigning monarch at the time of her death in 1901!

This was the very first Sovereign to be issued under Queen Victoria’s rule, issued in 1832, featuring the popular ‘Young Head’ portrait by William Wyon. This portrait was favoured by Victoria and contributed to the coin’s popularity through her reign.

To this day, it is the longest a portrait has featured on Britain’s circulating coinage having been issued on bronze coins up until 1895!

5. 1902 Edward VII Silver Crown

The Westminster Collection

The Edward VII 1902 Silver Crown was issued for one-year-only to celebrate Edward’s coronation – only 256,020 were ever struck. It was the last British crown struck for circulation!

This coin reflects a crucial period in British History, and celebrates the might and confidence of one of the most powerful leaders on earth.

6. 2008 Queen Elizabeth I £5

Numista

Elizabeth I succeeded to the throne on 17th November 1558 – a moment of triumph for the underestimated daughter of Henry VIII…

Under her rule, England went from an impoverished country torn apart by religious and political turbulence to the world’s dominant power with victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The Elizabethan era is often considered the golden age of English history with music, art and literature flourishing.

To commemorate 450 years since Elizabeth II’s accession, The Royal Mint issued this £5 in 2008 featuring a portrait of Elizabeth I within a mandorla created by four decorative arches and Tudor roses.

7. 2018 Four Generations of Royalty

The Westminster Collection

This Four Generations of Royalty £5 coin was highly anticipated since the moment HRH Prince George of Cambridge was born on 22nd July 2013.

This was the first time in modern years that The Royal Mint issued a coin that celebrated all four generations of royalty in line to the throne on a single coin. The last time that four generations of royalty were celebrated together was in 1894 under Queen Victoria’s reign!

The reverse design, by Timothy Noad, ornately shows the initials of the current four generations, E, C, W & G and represents the heritage of the House of Windsor.

8. 2000 Queen Mother Centenary £5

Change Checker

Anticipation of the imminent 100th birthday of HM the Queen Mother meant several countries released centenary coins as soon as she entered her 100th year rather than wait for her actual birthday on 4th August 2000.

The Royal Mint struck a £5 coin wholly designed by Ian Rank-Broadley, which included a reverse design of a left-facing profile of the Queen Mother wearing a diamond tiara with her signature underneath; this was the first time this had happened on a British coin!

9. 2017 Platinum Wedding Anniversary £5

The Westminster Collection

On 20th November 2017 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip celebrated their Platinum wedding anniversary, celebrating an unprecedented 70 years together!

To mark the longest marriage in Royal history, The Royal Mint issued a celebratory £5 coin in 2017. It features specially commissioned double portrait of the couple on the obverse, and an engraving of the two riding their much loved horses together on the reverse.

It is estimated just 60 people in the UK celebrated their Platinum Wedding Anniversary in the same year – meaning Her Majesty and HRH Prince Philip are literally one in a million!

10. 2018 Prince Charles 70th Birthday £5

The Westminster Collection

On the 14th November 2018 Prince Charles celebrated his 70th birthday.

To mark this special occasion and to celebrate the longest serving heir apparent, who has shown unwavering dedication to the British people, The Royal Mint issued this £5 coin.

The reverse features a new portrait of the prince, specially designed by Robert Elderton. It is the only official UK coin to have marked The Prince of Wales’ birthday!


Of course there have been so many other incredible UK Royal coins and narrowing it down to just 10 was a tough job, but we certainly feel these coins have got to be highlights!

Let us know which coins UK Royal coins would make it into your Top 10 in the comments below!


If you’re interested in coin collecting, our Change Checker web app is completely free to use and allows users to:

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