Tower of London
Continued from page 3
ABOVE: Yeoman Warders with John Keohane (who
was Yeoman Gaoler when this photo was taken) and Tom Sharp, Mr. Keohane's
predecessor as Chief Yeoman Warder. INSET BELOW: A Yeoman Warder
gives directions to young visitors.
Yeoman Warders ("Beefeaters")
Yeoman Warders guard the Tower of London with the help of a British Army unit.
They report to the Yeoman Gaoler and the Chief Yeoman Warder (the two gentlemen
on the right side of the group photo above). In addition to keeping an eye on
the Tower, the Yeoman Warders lead free tours and answer questions for visitors.
Tourist: "Where was Ann Boleyn beheaded?"
Yeoman Warder (touching finger to neck): "Right about here."
The Yeoman Warders also have ceremonial duties, including the
nightly Ceremony of the Keys
and attending such events as royal coronations and the Lord Mayor's Show in the
City of London.
Natasha Woollard of the Tower's press office and John Keohane,
the Yeoman Gaoler during my visit, were kind enough to supply a number of facts about the Yeoman
A so-called Beefeater's official title is: "Yeoman Warder of Her
Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London and Member of the
Sovereign's Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary."
The erroneous nickname "Beefeater" probably dates back to
the time when Yeoman Warders were given a daily ration of meat. (Records show, that in 1813, the
daily ration for the 30 men on duty was a remarkable 24 pounds of beef, 18 pounds of
mutton, and 16 pounds of veal.)
To apply for a position as a Yeoman Warder, you must have 19
years' of service with good conduct as a senior non-commissioned officer from
the Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Marines, or Royal Navy. (Only a small number of
applicants are accepted.)
New Yeoman Warders are sworn in on Tower Green, where they take
an oath of allegiance that dates back to 1337. After the ceremony, the new
recruits' health is toasted by the Chief Yeoman Warder from a ceremonial
punchbowl. (The punchbowl was a gift from Yeoman Warder Wilkins, who was found
to be earning a living as an innkeeper in Southwark when he should have been on
The Yeoman Warders and their families are required to live
at the Tower. (You'll see their neatly tended rowhouses facing Tower Green.)
In addition, they must own homes elsewhere in England so they'll have a
place to go when they retire.
The Yeoman Warders have two uniforms:
The ceremonial uniform is worn for state occasions;
e.g., when the monarch visits the Tower or for any state occasion that the
Body attends. This uniform is predominantly red and goldwith red stockings,
a white ruff, and black patent shoes.
For everyday wear, the Yeoman Warders wear a blue undress
uniform that comes in summer and winter weights. (See photos above.)
Finally, the first woman
Yeoman Warder (a former Army accountant
named Moira Cameron) began working in uniform at the Tower of London on September 3,
Sites and sights
Photos copyright © HRP. Used by permission.