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Enjoy the Ceremony of the Keys

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History buffs wanting to get an insight into the workings of one of England's most popular and historic attractions should make their way to the Tower of London.

Each evening at the tower the Ceremony of the Keys takes place - and has done without fail for the past 700 years.

The seven-minute ceremony starts at 9.53pm on the dot when the chief yeoman, dressed in a scarlet coat and Tudor bonnet, emerges from the Byward Tower with the keys and a brass lantern. A guard escorts him to the ancient main gates and here he is joined by a sentry who ritualistically asks: "Who comes there?" To which the reply is always: "The keys."

The all important keys are then locked up for the evening in the tower, which is located on the River Thames by Tower Bridge at St Katherine's Way. Once the tower is locked, a trumpeter sounds a triumphant signal and the ceremony is over.

Visitors attend the ceremony for free but will need to apply for tickets at least two months in advance - perhaps more so in summer - by sending a stamped addressed envelope to The Ceremony of the Keys, Waterloo Block, HM Tower of London, London, England EC3N 4AB.

Applicants will need to state the dates they wish to attend and the names of those who want to join them. A maximum of six tickets can be applied for during the summer and 15 during the winter.
The tower's summer season runs from April 2nd to October 31st.

Those who are successful in gaining tickets will need to arrive at the tower's West Gate by 9.30pm and will have had to pay entrance to the main attraction, which is £14.50 for an adult and £9.50 for a child, while those under five years old go for free.

Those attending the ceremony on a day out may also want to spend the day exploring the historic attraction and enjoying some of the other events that take place in the building. For example, medieval soldiers can often be found in the Dark Tower keeping watch and patrolling. Visitors can sometimes join them on their security checks as they look in on the hapless prisoners who have been locked up for a variety of reasons, from treason to petty theft.

Another popular re-enactment tour is Life In The Medieval Palace, which gives visitors the chance to meet knights, ladies and other members of the household of Edward I in a bid to find out what life was like back in this king's reign.


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