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