History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The new tower stood at one end of a garden, with a moat on two sides. The master mason was Henry Yevele, one of the most prolific medieval architects and the mn most responsible for the popularity of Perpendicular Gothic. The first floor was used as accommodation for the 'keeper', with the second and third floors used as secure storage areas. The second floor shows evidence of double-doors, suggesting that the most valuable items were stored there.
In 1869 it became as a test centre for the Board of Trade Standards Department, to establish official weights and measures. The bottom two floors were used to carry out tests, while standard weights and measures were stored on the top floor.
Unfortunately, increased traffic along the nearby road, with its accompanying noise and vibration, meant that the Tower was not an ideal place to carry out exacting measurements. In 1938 the Department left the Tower for new headquarters.
The building was damaged by bombs in WWII, and subsequent restoration involved clearing out several buildings that had encroached against the Tower's wals over the years.
Internally, much of the original 14th century architecture has survived. The outstanding feature of the building is an original 14th century ribbed vault, with beautifully carved ceiling bosses depicting grotesque faces and animal heads, foliage, eagles, and swans. The first floor has a mid-18th century vault, with a turret-room built in 1621. Look for the cipher of James I on the lock-plate of the iron door leading to the turret room. There can be no doubt that the top floor was meant to be the most secure by its medieval builders; it is secured by double doors, and the original 14th century inner door has survived. Much of the roof had to be replaced after the WWII bombing, but some of the medieval timbers have been preserved.
One of the most fascinating features on the Tower is a display on the history of official weights and measures; how they were established over time, and how different monarchs tried to standardise the basis of measurement.
The Jewel Tower is located at the opposite end of the Houses of Parliament to the clock tower that houses Big Ben.
About Jewel Tower
Address: Abingdon Street, Westminster, London, Greater London, England, SW1P 3JX
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: Opposite the southern end of the Houses of Parliament (behind Westminster Abbey)
Website: Jewel Tower
Phone: 020 7222 2219
English Heritage - see also: English Heritage memberships (official website)
OS: TQ302 0794
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Nearest station: Westminster - 0.2 miles (straight line) - Zone: 1
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Westminster Abbey - 0.1 miles (Cathedral)
Westminster Abbey Chapter House and Pyx Chamber - 0.1 miles (Historic Building)
Palace of Westminster - 0.1 miles (Historic Building)
Big Ben - 0.1 miles (Historic Building)
Churchill War Rooms - 0.3 miles (Museum)
Lambeth Palace - 0.3 miles (Historic Building)
Garden Museum - 0.4 miles (Museum)
Banqueting House - 0.4 miles (Historic Building)
Nearest Accommodation to Jewel Tower:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Nearest Tourist Information Centre ('as the crow flies')