Does my pike look big in this?

16 Oct

learning how to be a knight

‘And then they disemboweled him and strung out 36 feet of intestines’, said the Beefeater to the tourists.  If you love Horrible Histories, you will love the Historic Royal Palaces.  The world famous buildings are brought alive by the imaginative displays, child friendly activities and liberal use of actors.  This weekend we went to the Tower of London and were fascinated by glimpses into it’s gory 1,000 year history.

First up was a boy’s own adventure from the era of Henry VIII involving invisible ink made from orange juice, leading to the escapeDSC_0886 from the Tower by two Catholics who lowered themselves down a rope into a boat waiting in the Thames.  The spy-obsessed Ned was particularly taken with that one, and we’ve successfully tried their instructions for making the invisible ink at home.

Next we did the wall walk with lots of pretending to shoot cross bows through the battlements and the chance to try out a real crossbow and helmet.  Climbing up the steep winding stone staircases whilst wearing a knight’s outfit is half the fun.

crossbow in Tower moatThe highlight of our day was undoubtedly the Knight school, led by the splendid man pictured above.  We learnt how to scale castle walls, that ground up oyster shells (which were in plentiful supply in Mediaeval London) make a very unpleasant itching powder under your armour and how to use a variety of weapons.  I had a go at launching a water bomb from a giant, four-person crossbow which was as fun as it sounds but surprisingly hard work.  The children would have loved a try, but health and safety rules preclude youngsters from operating working Mediaeval weapons, spoilsports. 

The Tower of London is not for the squeamish.  It’s walls have seen all knights at the Tower of Londonmanner of hideousness including beheadings, torture, rebellions and fatal poisoning and it’s inhabitants revel in it’s history.  The resident Beefeaters are known for their tours highlighting aspects of the Tower’s gruesome history and many of them are born storytellers.  If you are of a delicate disposition, you might want to visit somewhere else, but our little knights loved it.

The Royal Palaces are not the cheapest family attractions in London, but I think they offer great value for money, especially if you buy the annual season ticket.  We have now visited Kensington Palace and Hampton Court, as well as the Tower of London and every time they have put on a great show, bringing history alive for even the smallest children.


If you want to read about our other trips to Historic Royal Palaces, look here: Travelling at home; travelling at home part 2 and time travelling

This post is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby. For more lovely travel pictures, click here

Kid Friendly Travel Blog on Raveable


17 Responses to “Does my pike look big in this?”

  1. Josie 16/10/2009 at 11:40 am #

    Please can you adopt me? I want to come on all of your adventures…

    Definitely adding this to our growing list of weekend outings when Kai is bigger. Sounds brilliant!

  2. Catherine 16/10/2009 at 2:55 pm #

    We’re taking the kids to London next summer, so thanks for the overview of this must-see attraction.

  3. Amy @ The Q Family 16/10/2009 at 3:29 pm #

    That’s so cool to know they do have a fun tour not just boring walk around and listen to story. How neat!

  4. jackie 16/10/2009 at 5:15 pm #

    Oh, what a fabulous post! This one is a keeper. We have a 5 year old boy and London is on our definite list now.
    : )

  5. Nancy (Ciao Bambino) 16/10/2009 at 5:25 pm #

    Love the pictures. The Tower of London has always been a favorite and just this summer we were able to share it with our kids. It was a trip highlight for them as well. The gruesome tales kept them riveted.

  6. Cate 16/10/2009 at 6:44 pm #

    This is a great story, I can see it in a magazine. I went to the Tower once and hated those big ravens that hung around the Beefeaters feet. But loved the shiny jewels.

  7. Linda 16/10/2009 at 7:18 pm #

    What a fun and interesting way to learn!

  8. Dominique 17/10/2009 at 5:35 am #

    Nothing says family-friendly like disembowlments! Sounds pretty fascinating to me, though 🙂

  9. Lucia 17/10/2009 at 7:14 am #

    My son will love reading this post! Perfect destination for a six year old boy 🙂

  10. marina villatoro 17/10/2009 at 4:45 pm #

    What a great post. We did something similar at a Renaissance fair!

    This is how kids learn best in my mind!

  11. Glennia/ The Silent I 17/10/2009 at 4:56 pm #

    My son would absolutely love this! He loves history, and the more gore, the better. 🙂

  12. Rosie Scribble 17/10/2009 at 9:34 pm #

    I love the Royal Palaces but mainly the gardens and scenery. I had never considered the historical aspect but my daughter loves Horrible Histories, so you never know, we may end up checking out some of the places you mention.

  13. Bridget Smith 17/10/2009 at 10:38 pm #

    Talk about interactive. Sounds like they have a very impressive educational program. Wish we could hop across the ocean and check it out. 😉

  14. Paula 12/04/2010 at 2:42 pm #

    Despite being horrible in many ways, my boy is incredibly squeamish….but I’d love to go again. Might leave Boy Wonder and dad at home and take the girls….I want a go on that bomber! Px

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/04/2010 at 2:52 pm #

      As well as disembowelments, they also talk about riots and other less bloody things. He’ll be fine. It’s not a real dismembered head they hold up.

      • Paula 12/04/2010 at 2:55 pm #

        It’s not? Pah! You’ll be telling me it’s fake intestines next…

        • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 12/04/2010 at 3:00 pm #

          I know, it shows a shocking lack of authenticity.

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