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Outer Curtain Wall with Casements and Mural Towers, Tower Hamlets

Description: Outer Curtain Wall with Casements and Mural Towers

Grade: I
Date Listed: 30 November 1989
English Heritage Building ID: 206499

OS Grid Reference: TQ3358880649
OS Grid Coordinates: 533588, 180649
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5090, -0.0764

Location: A3211, Poplar, Greater London E1W 1 EC3N 4AB

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

Incorrect location/postcode? Submit a correction!

Listing Text

TQ 3380
21/884 Outer curtain wall with
casements and Mural


Outer curtain wall and towers. c.1275-85 for Edward I; south section of wall,
including Cradle Tower and Well Tower, built 1348-55 for Edward III; C19 alter-
ations and repairs, principally by A Salvin in 1840s and 1860s.

Squared and coursed ragstone with ashlar dressings; lead and copper roofs to
towers. Curtain Wall: has some scored quoining to imitate masonry, indicating
that it was originally whitewashed; gunports, loops and crenellation reworked in
C19; wall between Legge's Mount and North Bastion has two original loops, one set
in original round arch; North Bastion refaced 1946-7; to south of Brass Mount is
rectangular projection into moat, forming one of 3 (the other two are buried
beneath moat and were probably used as platforms for stone-throwing machines;
casements to inner sides of curtain walls are mostly mid C19, and to west date
from mid C18 with sash windows and doors of mid C18 date.

Towers described clockwise, from Byward Tower to St Thomas's Tower.

Byward Tower, to south-west corner: 1275-85, including late C13 brick to north-
east turret and flint to south-east turret; late C18/early C19 brick rebuilding
to parapet. Plan of entrance passage flanged by 2-storey cylindrical towers
(raised in late C18/early C19) which have 3-storey rectangular turrets to rear.
Pointed chamfered arch of 2 orders, followed by portcullis slot, "Meurtrieres" to
soffit of rearward arch and early C18 double doors; original and restored loops;
C17 musket loops to north; C17 square-headed windows with iron grilles; 2
restored C13 lancets to south tower. Rear elevation has similar entry, C14
trefoil-headed 2-light window and C20 door set in inserted late C15/early C16
Tudor-arched doorway to north turret; braced C16 post to lean-to over entry; two
storeys above entry and between turrets are built of mid C16 timber frame, with
leaded-lights set in wood-mullioned and transomed windows which include square
oriels with moulded bressummers to centre, moulded fascia to second-floor jetty
and coved cornice. Interior: entrance passage has C19 studded doors set in
pointed-arched doorways; north door leads to square quadripartite-vaulted lobby
with blocked doorway, passage to vice and doorway to skewed passage and octagonal
shaped ground-floor chamber, with pointed embrasures, restored C13 fireplace with
corbelled hood and engaged columns with moulded capitals to springers of
chamfered ribbed vault; south door leads to similar vaulted lobby with garderobe
to east and similar octagonal-shaped ground-floor chamber with C20 restored vault
and fireplace. Caernarvon-arched doorway from north-east vice to first floor:
octagonal-shaped chambers to north and south towers, that to north retaining late
C13 fireplace with corbelled hood and that to south, entered by C17 prison door,
having much altered and restored fireplace; large chamber to centre has C16 port-
cullis machinery to west and large room to east, partitioned by early/mid C16
timber-framed screen with mullioned Tudor-arched lights and two Tudor-arched
doorways, has C13 tile floor, late C13 chamfered beam painted green with fleurs-
de-lis, leopards and heraldic birds (c.1400), and Tudor rose to hood or early/mid
C16 fireplace built over fine wall painting of c.1400 with Cruxifixion scene on
similar green and gold background.

Byward Postern, to south east, built 1350 for Edward III. 3. storeys. Lower
stage has 4-centred archway to entrance lobby with lion's mask to central boss of
ribbed segmental vault, followed by 2 segmental-pointed archways with C16 doors
to former drawbridge which has C16 panelling, and 2 outer archways to south; two
mid C16 timber-framed storeys above with tension bracing to vertical studding,
moulded fascia to second-floor jetty and coved cornice, and square oriel windows
with leaded-lights set in wood-mullioned and transomed windows with arched heads;
interiors noted as having late C16/early C17 panelling and ribbed ceilings.
Early C16 wedge-shaped salient to south, with gun ports and restored archway to
west: interior has brick-lined passageway to gun loops and C18 staircase to first
floor which has gun ports and C18 panelling.

Legge's Mount, to north-west corner: 2-storey semicircular bastion of 1275-85,
heightened in 1682-3 when gun ports added; brick 2-storey, 6-window range of
1682-3 to rear, with early C19 sashes and raised storey bands. Interior noted as
having early C16 brick walling and vault to basement, forming part of assay
associated with Tudor Mint; early C19 bomb-proof vault.

Brass Mount, to north east corner: semicircular bastion in of last C13 or early
C14 with mural gallery in original brick containing 11 embrasures altered into
C17 gun ports, one containing iron grille, and 6 garderobes. Basement and ground
floor to rear formed in early C20.

Develin Tower, to south east corner; built 1275-85 as postern tower connected by
walled causeway to Iron Gate (demolished) to east; rectangular 2-storey structure
projecting eastwards into moat; partly rebuilt in 1679, when 2 north gun loops
inserted, and keyed semicircular architrave to blocked first-floor east doorway

Well Tower: 1275-85, rebuilt above wall-walk level in mid C19; rectangular
2-storey tower with rectangular staircase turret to north-east. Restored cross
loops; pointed-arched doorway, restored in C19, to west wall walk; restored
lancet to north; 2 shoots for drawing water to south wall; mid C19 two-light
window. Attached to north wall is part of cross wall to Salt Tower (qv), built
to bar inner ward. Interior: 2-bay quadripartite vault and C17/C18 fireplace in
ground-floor room; square-headed chamfered doorway to vice; late C13 pointed
rere-arch to doorway of first-floor chamber, which has C17/C18 fireplace.

Cradle Tower: built 1348-55 for Edward III as privy water-gate to royal apart-
ments; 1867 by A Salvin above wall walk. T-plan, with polygonal stair-turret to
west. Pointed moulded arch set in segmental-arched recess to south entrance,
which has grooves for portcullis and timber grille with C14 iron hinge and 2
drawbar holes. Restored and C19 loops; trefoiled lights to sides; C14 lancet to
stair turret; North elevation has offset angle buttresses flanking moulded outer
arch of 2 orders and pointed inner arch with portcullis groove; cinquefoil-headed
lancets; C19 one and 2-light windows to first floor. Interior: 2-bay vault to
entrance passage, with ribs springing from corbels (including grotesque animals
to south) to hollow circle in each bay; pointed-arched doorways on either side,
that to east leading into rectangular room (former porter's lodge) with C14
square-headed fireplace with bread oven and quadripartite vault springing from
enriched corbels, and rebuilt doorway to west leading to quadripartite-vaulted
vestibule with pointed-arched doorway to vice.

St Thomas's Tower: built 1275-85 as state entrance and apartments. 2-storey
oblong tower with projecting turrets to southern angles. Originally entered by
boat via water-filled basin beneath tower. South front has pointed arch of 2
chamfered orders, restored cross loops and 5-window range of C19 two-light
windows. North elevation has broad stone arch to basin, reached by flight of
steps from inner ward, with timber framing of 1532-3 above with oriel windows all
restored in 1862-5 by A Salvin; flanked by towers to east and west, that to west
having ancient studded door with lock in pointed-arched doorway and mid C19
pointed-arched doorway to first floor, and that to each having ancient studded
door set in pointed-arched doorway and connected by bridge of 1867 (replacement
of original) to Wakefield Tower (qv). Interior: Mural galleries, with much of
original vaulting destroyed in late C17/early C18, connected to vaulted chambers
in corner turrets and vice in north-east turret with access via restored pointed-
arched doorway to bridge. First floor, subdivided in mid C19, originally formed
royal hall (to west) and chamber to east; vaulted chamber in south-east room has
chamfered ribs springing from engaged shafts with moulded capitals, hollow-
moulded rere-arches, and 2 piscinae indicating that it was built as oratory;
similar valuted chamber in south-west tower and traces of garderobe to former
hall; main beams to floors and roof of c.1532. History: Edward I's work at the
Tower of London between 1275-85, which principally involved filling in of old
moat and construction of new moat with outer curtain wall and towers, cost
£21,0OO - more than all his Welsh castles except Caernarvon.

Listing NGR: TQ3358880649

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.