There's a secret pub in the Tower of London
Posted on 13/03/2016

CultureUnited Kingdom

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It's one of Britain's most popular attractions, but little do most visitors know that its stone walls also hold a secret place to score a unique London pint...

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  • The Tower of London receives three million visitors per year
    The Tower of London receives three million visitors per year

The imposing walls of the Tower of London hold centuries of courtly secrets behind their stony facades. But perhaps the fact that they also hold a pub, off-limits to all but the Tower's beloved Beefeaters, is one of their biggest.

Formally known as the Yeoman Warders, Beefeaters have been guarding the Tower of London since their position was introduced by Henry VI in 1485. At the time, hundreds of people lived within the tower's protective walls and - as in any community - watering holes and taverns soon sprang up around them.

"There were dozens of inns and bars in the Tower during the 18th and 19th Centuries, but this is the last one," chief beefeater Alan Kingshott said of the pub that shelters within the Tower's walls.

The Tower still employs 37 Yeomen, who give guided tours and pose for selfies, as well as performing their ceremonial duties which have changed very little since the role was created. They live in on-site accomodation and, as such, a drinking establishment is a welcome relief at the end of a long shift.

Half private club, half traditional English pub, the Yeoman Warders Club is a unique place to drink. At the bar you'll find not only Beefeater Gin, but Beefeater Bitter - another of the private pub's great secrets - which is made exclusively for its patrons by UK brewery Marston's.

Its walls are decorated with plaques representing the regiments of the different Yeomen who have served over the years. The guards here must have an honourable armed forces record at least 22 years long in order to qualify for the position.

But it wasn't always that way. Yeoman titles used to be bought, meaning that a Beefeater could retire at any point and sell his position to the highest bidder. It's from this tradition that the toast 'May you never die a Yeoman Warder', which can still be heard in the bar today when welcoming new recruits, derives from. If you popped your clogs whilst holding a Yeoman title, you'd never see the handsome payout at retirement - very bad luck indeed.


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