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A Jewel in MY Crown

How many times have I returned? 3, 4?

Why do I go back? I don't know.

When I first found it, it was an accident. I didn't know it was there. Apparently, no one else did either. Except for the attendant, I was the only tourist visiting.

 

Quiet and secret its ancient history fascinated me. It's not much to look at. Not pretty.

 

The Jewel Tower, Westminster, London

Though the door is dated 1621, this fortified structure was built in 1365 as a royal treasure house for King Edward III. Near the Palace of Westminster, it housed royal silver, gold, jewels, art, bedding and other treasures.

 

Constructed of stone, it has deep set windows, stone floors and narrow circular stairs. Bosses on the ceiling have animals and grotesque faces carved into them. Once they were painted white with black eyes. At one time is was surrounded by a moat.

For centuries records of the House of Lords were stored here for safety. The earliest record was an Act of 1497, allowing apprentices to make wool fabric. The death warrant for King Charles I, the Bill of Rights, the Act of Union with Scotland and the Act that abolished slavery in the UK, are some of the priceless documents once stored in wooden cabinets.

The Victoria Tower, below, was constructed to house Parliament's records in 1860. Nine years later the tower was occupied by the Board of Trade Standards because the structure was so sound that it was not subject to temperature changes or vibrations. They remained in the Jewel Tower until 1938, when the volume of traffic had finally started to vibrate the building.

There is a peaceful garden near the remains of the moat. I like to sit there and contemplate the history of such an ancient building.