The Tower In Art

    Since the Tower doesn't have a diorama on display of its appearance in the Restoration, the eighteenth century, or Napoleonic Wars, let's take a look at some of the art they have on display to get an idea about how the place looked.


Caption: "The Thames with a view of the north bank from the Tower to London Bridge with St Paul's in the distance.  Joseph Nicholls - fl 1730 - 1750"

Modern caption and text:  "The Tower of London from the River, British school, about 1750"

"An example of a series of paintings of the Tower of London which concentrate on the shipping down river of London Bridge and show the large number of buildings which had grown up on the Wharf in front of the Tower to house various Ordnance Office activities."

You can see the Grand Storehouse to the right of the White Tower. 


An artist's conception showing the gold encrusted barge of the Master-General of Ordnance in use, pieces of which are on display in the White Tower.  The Master-General used the barge to go upstream and confer with other officials in Westminster, or downstream to places like the arsenal at Woolwich.  Although dark, you can see Traitors' Gate on the far left.  Also note cranes on the wharf.  The curtain walls are obscured by wharf buildings.

The caption reads,

"By 1642 the Master-General of the Ordnance, and the principal officers of the Board, had at their disposal a barge in which they could undertake visits of inspection and attend ceremonial functions.  New barges were commissioned in 1664 and 1673, but in June 1707 it was decided to replace the vessel again.  The new barge, which was 13.7m (45ft) long and 1.85m (6ft1in) wide, was larger and more sumptuous than any of its predecessors, being adorned with rich carvings that included emblems of the Ordnance and its then Master-General, the Duke of Marlborough.  The barge continued in use until the Ordnance was abolished in 1855."


Modern caption and text:  "A View of the Tower of London from the River, 1804, By William Daniell (1769-1837)"

"A coloured aquatint, one of a series of four, which shows the Ordnance workshops on the Tower Wharf, including the Proof House for musket barrels, as well as the entrance from the east."

The large Ordnance building to the left of the tower was presumably that destroyed in the 1880s.  The tall buildings obscuring the White Tower are a mystery to me.  Does anyone know what they are?  For that matter, exactly what buildings are what on the wharf?


Unfortunately, my digital camera isn't as good as I'd thought, so I can't completely make out the caption concerning this building.  I believe it says that it is an artist's interpretation of the Ordnance Office in about 1800.  Does anyone know for sure?  The building on the far left looks to be the New Armouries.  A larger nearby caption reads as follows.

"Throughout the 15th and early 16th centuries responsibility for the day to day running of the Office of Ordnance seems to have rested with the Master of the Ordnance and his immediate deputies.  During the mastership of Sir Christopher Morris (1536-43) a number of senior posts were created, namely the Lieutenant, Clerk of the Deliveries, Surveyor and Storekeeper, and in 1597 these officers, together with the Master, were formally constituted as a Board.  In the early 17th century the growing importance of the Ordnance was emphasized when the title of the Master was re-styled Master-General while in 1670 the Board was enlarged by the addition of a Treasurer.  Board members and their staff were provided with official accommodation in the Tower where the principal administrative office was located.  The Board continued to maintain and meet in an office at the Tower until its demise in 1855."

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