The architecture was brilliant, but the practicalities were not on our side.
I am a huge fan of Historic Royal Palaces and have held membership for many years. Annual membership is very good value if you live in London and visit the 5 London Palaces in their portfolio regularly or if you are visiting London and want to see more than two or three of their Palaces during your trip. You also get a gift shop and café discount. Without membership this visit would have been around £20 and I am afraid to say that while the Tower of London is iconic and has spectacular architecture, it is a very hard place to manage comfortably with a baby. It isn’t easy to justify this entrance price given the obstacles we encountered. In all we probably managed to see around twenty per-cent of the site, maybe less. Our visit was limited to the outside of the buildings, although we did manage the Royal Mint display and possibly could have visited the Crown Jewels, but were unable to wait in the very long queue (around a 1 hour wait in peak summer season).
I really want to be positive, because I did enjoy my time during this perambulation, and I genuinely want to encourage others to see the Tower of London. This is a 1000 year-old site with medieval and Tudor architecture. Buildings as old as these pre-date prams and wheelchairs by hundreds of years and so they were never designed with easy accommodation in mind. I think a Tudor stonemason would also be shocked to know the volume of people who pass through his buildings today, and how far they have travelled to see his creations. I also know only too well the complexities of trying to retrofit lifts and ramps today to buildings of such age and national significance.
So, as a visitor, here are my recommendations about how best to tackle this one. There are a lot of cobbled streets so your little one will experience a pretty bumpy ride during this perambulation. If you have the capacity to lift your pram and carry it up and down a few short flights of stairs it will make your perambulation more straightforward and enable you to visit more of the site. If this is your first visit and you want to see as much as possible then baby-wearing if pretty much your only option. There is a buggy park near to the entrance. You will need to bring your own sling or carrier as I didn’t notice any provided. (as a slight aside I would like to give kudos to the Roman Baths in Bath who do provide baby and child carriers for their smallest visitors). If you are able to carry your child in this way then you will be able to visit the White Tower, the recreated medieval rooms in the curtain wall and several other buildings within the grounds. There are still a lot of stairs and in some areas also low ceilings which may also be an issue depending on the style of your carrier and the age of your child.
I would like to say a few words in case you are concerned about the suitability of some of the subject matter covered at the Tower. While the Tower of London was used as a prison and place of execution in the past there are no gory or scary displays here. No severed heads, no fake blood, nothing you may wish to avoid with young children. You are safe.
We travelled to the Tower of London on the tube. There is completely level access at Tower Hill tube station and there is level access from the station to the entrance of the Tower of London itself. We visited in the rain and if you are not able to manage stairs easily then shelter is limited. Shelter with seating is limited further still. Lily was asleep under her rain cover during almost all of this perambulation so I can’t really provide much feedback on her behalf. The baby changing facilities were unisex in the disabled access toilet, and reasonably clean. We visited for around 1 hour or so and left via the Thames Clipper. More on this next.
Changing facilities **
Baby feeding facilities (including seating) *
Enjoyable Perambulation ***