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 Infamous Prison
- The Royal Mint
- The Royal Menagerie
- The White Tower
2020 The Infamous Prison £5
The final coin in The Royal Mint’s 2020 Tower of London £5 series has JUST been released and it celebrates the gruesome history of the Tower’s Infamous Prison.
- Spanning the years of its use, The Tower of London housed a variety of famous prisoners, including three Queens of England; Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey!
Whilst some wealthy, influential inmates could be held in relative comfort, deprived only of their liberty, other prisoners, such as the three Queens of England were met with a more gruesome fate and were executed by beheading on the Tower Green!
In 2020, the Tower of London’s secure fortress and symbol of royal power has been celebrated on this brand new Infamous Prison £5 coin!
Heraldic artist Timothy Noad has designed this brand new Infamous Prison £5, which features the inscription ‘MY LIBERTIE DENIED’. These words have been taken from ‘graffiti’ in the Tower which has been attributed to Thomas Miagh, a prisoner at the Tower!
This coin also features the final jigsaw-style section of the Norman arched window which completes the motif of the 2020 Tower of London £5 coin series.
The Infamous Prison £5 is available in a number of specifications, including Brilliant Uncirculated quality for JUST £10.99! (+p&p). Click here to secure yours >>
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.
2020 Royal Mint £5
The third coin in The Royal Mint’s 2020 Tower of London £5 series celebrates the Tower’s minting history.
Wales has long been the location of The Royal Mint, but did you know that before this, it had two previous homes? It was kept secure at Tower Hill for a period of time but before that, it was housed within the walls of the Tower of London for 500 years!
The Royal Mint was first established by Edward I in the dedicated area which became known as Mint Street.
In 2020, The Royal Mint’s historic ties to the Tower of London has been celebrated on this £5 coin!
Heraldic artist Timothy Noad has designed the Royal Mint £5, which also features the second jigsaw-style section of the Norman arched window which will be seen in full when all four 2020 Tower of London £5 coins are placed together.
The Royal Mint £5 is available in a number of specifications, including Brilliant Uncirculated quality for JUST £10.99! (+p&p). Click here to secure yours >>
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.
2020 Royal Menagerie £5
The second coin in The Royal Mint’s 2020 Tower of London series celebrates the Royal Menagerie.
There was once a time when monkeys, elephants and even polar bears roamed the Tower of London, in an area of the castle called The Royal Menagerie.
Heraldic artist Timothy Noad has designed this Royal Menagerie £5 with some of the castle’s old inhabitants – lions! This coin also features the second jigsaw-style section of the Norman arched window which will be seen in full when all four 2020 Tower of London £5 coins are placed together.
The Royal Menagerie £5 is available in a number of specifications, including Brilliant Uncirculated quality for JUST £10.99! (+p&p)
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.
2020 White Tower £5
The first £5 coin to be released in the 2020 Tower of London series celebrates the White Tower.
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.
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.
Now that the 2020 Tower of London £5 has concluded, which design is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!