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Torture, Beheadings, and Gin: The Beefeaters at the Tower of London

Beefeaters at the Tower of London

Beefeaters and Gin

I tried gin once in my life and thought it tasted nasty. According to a couple of Beefeaters at the Tower of London, it’s one of the best gins in the world; along with Tanqueray and Hendrix being the choice gins. They did not think highly of Bombay Sapphire describing it as vile. But enough about gin. After William the Conqueror defeated the English in the 1066 Battle of Hastings, he began the construction of the Tower of London in the 1070’s. The Tower of London was built originally as a fortress-stronghold to keep Londoners at bay. Through the years, additional buildings were constructed on the ~18 acre site.

Torture, Murders and Beheadings

Crown Jewel building at the Tower of London
Crown Jewel building at the Tower of London

In 1536, King Henry VIII (yes, the fat king who kept killing all of his wives since none of them bore him a son) had Anne Boleyn beheaded on the Tower Green; a beautiful piece of lawn surrounded by beautiful buildings which now house many of the Beefeaters and their families.

Beefeaters' current residences at the Tower of London
Beefeaters’ current residences at the Tower of London

Henry VII founded the Yeoman Warders, commonly known as the Beefeaters in 1485. It is thought that their nickname is derived from their position in the Royal Bodyguard, which permitted them to eat as much beef as they wanted from the king’s table. Today, 37 Beefeater’s families live on-site with about 130 total people living in the community. How cool would that be?!! For the record, these guys are not costumed tour guides. They are servicemen (and I believe one woman) who actively, and honorably, served their country.

Beefeater
Beefeater giving tour

Beefeaters Qualifications

In order to apply to become a Beefeater, one must serve a minimum of 22 years in the UK armed services, hold the rank of at least Sergeant Major or Warrant Officer (the highest rank of an enlisted man), and have been awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medals. As a U.S. citizen, I know that I will never be able to apply to become a “Beefeater.” I also know that I’ll never drink gin, and hopefully won’t be beheaded.

As for torture, my family says that traveling with me for 5 months is just that.

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