British Listed Buildings

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The White Tower, Tower Hamlets

Description: The White Tower

Grade: I
Date Listed: 30 November 1989
English Heritage Building ID: 206494

OS Grid Reference: TQ3361780548
OS Grid Coordinates: 533617, 180548
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5081, -0.0761

Location: Tower Bridge Approach, Poplar, Greater London E1W 1 EC3N 4AB

Locality: Tower Hamlets
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: EC3N 4AB

Incorrect location/postcode? Submit a correction!

There is also a scheduled monument, Tower of London, at the same location as this building or very close to it. This may be related in some way or possibly a different name for the same structure.

Listing Text

TQ 3380
21/879 The White Tower


Tower keep. c.1078-1100 for William I and William II, probably to designs of
Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester; later repairs and alterations, principally in C18
and C19 and by A Salvin, 1856-7; Rag-stone rubble with Caen stone dressings later
replaced by Portland stone; lead roofs. Rectangular plan with apsidal projection
at south-east angle housing east end of chapel, and cylindrical north-east stair
turret. Anglo-Norman style. 3 storeys and basement, with 5-storey angle
turrets. Each elevation (4-bay to north and south, 3-bay to east and 5-bay to
west) has crenellated parapet, offset flat pilaster buttresses defining each bay
and second-floor windows set in round-headed recesses forming bold Romanesque
arcading; late C19 windows and early C19 sashes set in early C18 semicircular
arched architraves with keyblocks, and impost blocks to large first and second-
floor openings. Two early C18 panelled double doors set in similar architraves
to first floor of north elevation, late C19 double doors to west and approached
by double-flight of steps to east; two late C11 round-arched lights to first
floor; apsidal south-eastern projection (to chapel) has mid C19 Norman-style
round-arched windows with engaged shafts; south elevation has similar windows to
chapel, early C18 architrave to original late C11 entrance to west bay of first
floor, and 2 pairs of late C11 round-arched windows set within larger round-
arched recesses to third floor. Angle turrets have restored late Cll round-
arched lights and weathervanes to cupolas. Interior: each floor divided into two
compartments by off-centre spine wall running north to south and by east-west
wall defining area of chapel. All floors served by vice in north-east turret;
vices from second floor in north-west and south-west turrets; inserted C14 vice
in south wall, serving chapel. Basement, former storage and service area, has
brick piers and vaulting of c.1730, original well, round-arched doorway to
barrel-vaulted sub-crypt, and traces of original splayed recesses for loops in
south, west and north walls. First floor: west compartment, former great hall,
has C18 timber posts supporting ceiling, 5 round-arched embrasures and remains of
late C11 round-arched fireplace along west wall, round-arched doorways flanking 3
tall round-arched recesses later pierced to make entries along east spine wall
and round-arched embrasure to south altered into entry to inserted C14 vice;
round-arched doorways to two garderobe chambers in north wall; east compartment,
also with C18 timber posts supporting ceiling, has restored round-arched doorway
to north-east vice, 3 round-arched embrasures and remains of round-arched fire-
place along east wall and restored doorway set in wide round-arched recess to
south-east crypt, which has had barrel vault restored in C20, 3 embrasures
restored in C20, restored east window in niched apse, restored round-arched
recess to west wall and restored round-arched doorway to square mural chamber in
north wall. Second floor, containing royal hall, chapel and chamber, originally
rose two stages (the third floor being an early C17 insertion) with mural gallery
and 5-bay round-arched arcade to spine wall at third-floor level: Main western
compartment, former great hall with central hearth, has 9 round-arched embra-
sures, 2 restored round-arched doorways in spine wall, and original round-arched
embrasure to south altered into entry for inserted C14 vice; mural passages to
other vices.

East compartment or former royal chamber, has 3 tall round-arched recesses later
pierced to make entries along west side of spine wall; round-arched entry to
garderobe, window embrasure enlarged in C14, and round-arched doorway to garde-
robe in north wall; late C11 chamfered round-arched fireplace and 3 round-arched
embrasures in east wall; round-arched doorway to chapel.

Chapel of St John: aisled plan with eastern apse and ambulatory, of 13 bays;
groin vaulting to aisles and ambulatory, with bays defined by responds forming
arcade on outer walls and columns to main arcade surrounding barrel-vaulted nave
which rises two storeys with barrel-vaulted triforium to upper stage; important
series of Anglo-Norman capitals, including eight block-shaped capitals with
fluted chamfers, one primitive Corinthian capital, two with primitive volutes,
one cushion capital and two double-cushion capitals; all have scribed mouldings
to abaci, except geometric carving to two western capitals, and eleven capitals
have Germanic-inspired Tau crosses. Round-headed recesses to west wall, includ-
ing inserted doorway to C14 vice.

Chapel restored by A Salvin in 1864-6, when windows (with C18 stained glass from
Strawberry Hill) were replaced.

Listing NGR: TQ3361680542

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.