The Tower of London is one of the most iconic historic landmarks in the world and serves as a home to ravens, the Crown Jewels and a millennium of history. Now, it’s also home to Simon Towe, a Leicestershire resident who’s recently been given a coveted role within the famous fortress…
Earlier this year, Simon Towe became the Tower of London’s 417th Yeoman Warder or ‘Beefeater’ – a role which will
see him lead tours, present talks and lectures, and answer questions on the landmark’s legendary past…
Back in Tudor times, Beefeaters were employed to guard the Tower gates, as well as royal prisoners, on order of King Henry VII. However, today the role is mostly a ceremonial one, and is all about bringing the Tower’s history alive for the millions of people who visit every year.
So how exactly does one become a Beefeater, and what made Mr Towe pursue this unique, and extremely prestigious position?
Well, in order to be considered for the role, a person must have at least 22 years of distinguished military service,
and possess both a Long Service and Good Conduct medal. They must have also reached the rank of Warrant Officer or equivalent, before being selected for interview.
Simon himself had served in the Army for 26 years prior to his appointment, and was stationed across the globe with stints in Cyprus, Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Most recently, he served as The Army Senior Drum Major in the Army School of Ceremonial, based at ITC Catterick.
He first became aware of the coveted Beefeater role, during a visit to the Tower of London with his wife back in 2001.
“I was in absolute awe of the history of the place, and having chatted to a Beefeater in one of the Towers, it sounded like an amazing job to have,” he told Pukaar.
“Ever since that day, my fascination for history has grown and it’s been a dream and ultimate goal of mine to become a Yeoman Warder. Every promotion during my Army Career got me a little bit closer, so when a vacancy came up and I had the necessary pre-requisites I had to apply…”
Following a three-part interview, Simon was given the job – something he describes as both an “honour and a privilege.”
“The interview process was rather intense, and the competition was strong. But I must have done okay as I’m here now!” he said of securing the role. “Since I put on the uniform, I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling!
“Getting fitted for my Tudor Bonnet and undress uniform made it all feel that bit more real, but my actual first day in uniform was amazing,” he went on to reveal.
“Talking to the visitors on my first day in full uniform was a real momentous occasion – one I’ll never forget! ”
At present, Simon is living in the Tower of London’s living quarters alongside 33 other Yeoman Warders and their families. He also shares his residence with the monument’s famous ravens – nine important birds who are free to roam during the day.
Then there are the famous Crown Jewels, which remain under armed guard within the landmark’s glittering Jewel House…
He is currently busy learning the responsibilities required within his new role, which includes learning the script of the famous Yeoman Warder Tour – word-for-word before being allowed to lead tours himself.
Simon is also busy familiarising himself with duties conducted by the Yeoman Body, including the ancient Ceremony of the Keys, which has taken place every night at the Tower of London without fail for at least 700 years…
“I am still finding my feet and exploring as and when I can. But life within the walls of the Tower of London has been amazing so far,” said Mr Towe, who hails from the Leicestershire village of Desford.
“However, it will be so much better when I have finished my training and my family can move down to London.
“My Wife, Charlotte and children Will, George and Hattie are excited at the prospect of us all living within the Tower wall. Being part of the Tower community and getting to know the 33 other Yeoman Warders and their families will be great too,” he added.
“I’m really looking forward to finishing my training and conducting my first tour. I’m sure I’ll be nervous initially but that really will be the icing on the cake for me!
“I have to keep pinching myself to check it’s not a dream. Walking out of my front door every day to go to work surrounded by 1000 years of history is just so surreal…”
To find out more, visit: www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london
By Louise Steel