The Tower of London has been a symbol of royal power for nearly 1,000 years.
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. But it’s the Ravens that have been a constant presence in the tower and legend has it that if they ever leave, the kingdom will fall…
In tribute to these guardians of the Tower, The Royal Mint has issued a brand new UK £5 coin as part of the four coin series celebrating the history of the Tower of London, one of Britain’s most iconic attractions, which will eventually include coins depicting the following:
- The Yeoman Warders
- The Ceremony of the Keys
- The Crown Jewels
2019 The Legend of the Raven £5
Featuring a Raven with a bird’s-eye view of the Tower in the background, this coin captures the illustrious history of the iconic British landmark and its most famous residents.
The Tower’s ‘raven mythology’ is thought to be a Victorian flight of fantasy and has been a source of many legends, including the fate of Greenwich observatory.
It’s said that King Charles II disliked the raven’s droppings falling onto the telescope at the Tower’s observatory,and so ordered that the ravens must go. However, superstition stated that if the ravens left, the Tower would fall and Charles would lose his kingdom. Ever the pragmatist, the King decided that the observatory must go to Greenwich and the ravens must stay in the Tower.
Since Tudor times, the Yeoman Warders have been guarding the Tower of London. Nicknamed as ‘Beefeaters’, they originally formed the Yeoman of the Guard, which was the monarch’s personal team of bodyguards.
The Yeoman Warders were responsible for looking after the prisoners in the Tower and protecting the crown jewels, however nowadays they also conduct guided tours of the Tower and are an important icon for Britain, resplendent in their red uniforms and a favoured tourist attraction.
They need to be between 40 and 55 years old on appointment and hold at least 22 years’ military service, during which time they must have reached the rank of warrant officer and to have been awarded the long service and good conduct medal.
The Ceremony of the Keys
For over 700 years, as the clock strikes ten, the words ‘Halt! Who comes there?’ echo in the Tower of London. The ancient Ceremony of the Keys is a formal locking and unlocking of the Tower gates, which started in the mid 1300s on order of King Edward III after he entered the Tower unannounced one night and was able to walk straight in, unchallenged!
Tradition states that at exactly seven minutes to ten at night, the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower must leave the Byward Tower, wearing a red Watch Coat and Tudor Bonnet and carrying a lantern. He takes with him a very special set of keys – the Queen’s Keys.
A military escort meets him at the Bloody Tower and at 10pm he moves two paces forward, raises his Tudor bonnet and says: ‘God preserve Queen Elizabeth’. This is answered by ‘Amen’ from the guards and ‘The Last Post’ played on a bugle.
The keys are then taken back to the Queen’s House and handed to the Queen’s representative at the Tower, The Resident Governor.
Several expansions were made to the Tower throughout the reign of Kings Richard I, Henry III and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries, however in general the original layout remains consistent. It suffered structural damage during the Blitz, but this was repaired after the Second World War and the Tower was opened to the public, to marvel at the Tower’s most esteemed treasures – the Crown Jewels!
Not only a powerful symbol of the British Monarchy, the jewels have deep religious and cultural significance in British history and are used by HRH Queen Elizabeth for important ceremonies and royal duties.
However, the 12th century anointing spoon and three early 17th century swords are the only four original jewels left after the English Civil War in 1649, when the Crown Jewels were destroyed and the monarchy abolished. The jewels were remade for Charles II’s coronation in 1661 following Oliver Cromwell’s death.
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.
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 sorching 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.
Now that the first coin in the Royal Mint’s brand new four coin series celebrating the Tower of London has been released, I’m sure £5 coin collectors will be looking forward to building up this fascinating collection.
Let us know what you think about the design and which coin in the series you’re most looking forward to seeing.
Secure your Tower of London Raven £5
You can now own the Raven £5 coin to kick start your Tower of London collection.
Since announcing the Coin Design of the Year category as part of our 2018 Change Checker Awards, the votes have been pouring in for your favourite 2018 coin from each nomination, and we now have our results!
You’ve shortlisted the top 4 coins, so we’ve been joined by Luke and Rowena in this video to reveal them to you and open up the vote for the overall Coin Design of the Year 2018:
So now it’s over to Change Checkers to pick the overall winner out of our shortlisted top 4 coins for 2018. Cast your vote using the poll below and let us know why you think your favourite coin deserves to be crowned the champion in the comments section at the bottom of this blog.
*** VOTE NOW CLOSED ***
To find out more about the Change Checker Awards and to submit your nomination for the Change Checker of the Year or Junior Change Checker of the Year 2018, click here.
The lucky winners will be announced on the 7th of December, alongside the Coin Design of the Year and Coin Story of the Year.
Best of luck!
If you’re interested in coin collecting, our Change Checker web app is completely free to use and allows users to:
– Find and identify the coins in their pocket
– Collect and track the coins they have
– Swap their spare coins with other Change Checkers
Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app
We’re on the hunt for the best Coin Design of 2018 as part of the 2018 Change Checker Awards and we need your help! With over 50 new coins issued by The Royal Mint this year, we’ve decided to shortlist the coins by denomination and then determine one overall winner from the top 10p, 50p, £2 and £5 coins as voted by Change Checkers!
The £5 is widely regarded as the UK’s flagship coin and are usually reserved to commemorate the most important Royal and historical anniversaries of the year. And there have certainly been a number of important events celebrated in 2018. In fact, TEN stunning £5 coins have been released this year, including three new additions to the Queen’s Beasts series, an incredibly poignant Remembrance Day £5 with colour printing and a beautifully festive Nutcracker £5 as we move towards the Christmas season.
But which 2018 £5 coin is your favourite?
Cast your vote now using the poll at the bottom of the page and find out more about the different £5 coins below!
Red Dragon of Wales £5
The Red Dragon of Wales is the third coin in the Queen’s Beasts series which started in 2017. The Queen’s Beasts collection will eventually include ten £5 coins, each representing the ten guard beast sculptures which were at the entrance to Westminster Abbey during Her Majesty the Queen’s coronation in 1953. This coin features a design of the fierce Red Dragon of Wales, by well-known designer Jody Clark.
Four Generations of Royalty £5
This Four Generations of Royalty £5 coin marks the first time ever that The Royal Mint has issued a coin to celebrate all four generations of royalty in line to the throne on a single coin. The reverse features an original design by much-loved calligrapher Timothy Noad, and ornately shows the initials of the current four generations, E, C, W, G, and represents the heritage of the House of Windsor.
Royal Academy of Arts £5
To celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the founding of The Royal Academy of Arts, The Royal Academy (RA) and The Royal Mint collaborated to issue this £5 coin. The reverse has been designed by celebrated architect Sir David Chipperfield RA, and features the historical facade of Burlington House, home to the Royal Academy since 1867.
Black Bull of Clarence £5
The Black Bull of Clarence is the fourth coin issued to celebrate the ten ancestral beasts of heraldry, myth, and legend that have watched over Her Majesty the Queen throughout her unprecedented reign. The reverse design by Jody Clark features the strong Black Bull in a rampant position with the shield displaying the coat of arms of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last native Prince of Wales.
Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan £5
To celebrate the wedding of HRH Prince Harry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle, The Royal Mint issued a brand new £5 coin designed by Jody Clark and based on a portrait of the couple taken from a private sitting as well as an inscription of the date of the wedding.
65th Coronation Anniversary £5
This £5 has been issued by The Royal Mint to mark the 65th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen’s Coronation on the 2nd June 1953, an unprecedented Royal milestone.The reverse design by Stephen Taylor depicts the Royal Standard, crowned with Her Majesty the Queen’s royal cypher to represent the Sovereign and the United Kingdom.
Falcon of the Plantagenets £5
This £5 features the magnificent Falcon of the Platagenets from the Queen’s Beasts series, but although the coin is 2019 dated, it was issued during 2018. The reverse features Jody Clark’s depiction of a Falcon perched on top of the shield with a partially open fetterlock in its grasp. Originally closed, the slightly open fetterlock supposedly refers to Edward IV claim to the throne.
Prince George 5th Birthday £5
The birth of HRH Prince George on 22nd July 2013 sparked celebration throughout the country and to celebrate his 5th Birthday, The Royal Mint issued this 2018 commemorative £5 coin. The reverse design by Royal Mint engraver Jody Clark features a modern depiction of Saint George slaying a dragon with a spear.
Remembrance Day £5
To honour the sacrifices of all those who have risked their lives to protect their country’s freedom The Royal Mint issued a 2018 Remembrance Day £5 coin which features vibrant red printing to highlight the symbolic poppy. It is an especially poignant coin this year which marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice, the end of WW1.
The Nutcracker coin is the second Christmas £5 issued by The Royal Mint, featuring a magical design which depicts an enchanting Christmas Nutcracker scene by acclaimed engraver, Harry Brockway.
The winning £5 will then be entered into our Coin Design of the Year vote as part of the 2018 Change Checker Awards, alongside the top 10p, 50p and £2 coins from 2018 to determine which coin should be crowned the overall winner!
The voting has now closed and the results can be found below:
It’s now time for you to vote for your overall winner, shortlisted from Change Checker’s favourite A-Z 10p, 50p, £2 and £5 coin of the year.