For an astonishing 533 years the Royal Mint was located within the walls of one of London’s oldest and most famous buildings, the Tower of London. Two centuries after the Mint relocated following a major financial crisis in the reign of George III, the Tower has announced that its original site is to be reclaimed for a new permanent exhibition.
‘Coins and Kings: The Royal Mint at the Tower’ opens later this month and will commemorate the long and storied history of this “little-known” part of the capital’s most famous fortress.
The Royal Mint’s residency at the Tower of London lasted from 1279 to 1812, seeing millions of coins minted through periods of prosperity and financial malaise alike. The history of the Mint reflects some of the most legendary power struggles and conflicts in English history, as well as bringing to light some genuinely surprising, little-known stories.
For instance, while everyone is aware of his estimable scientific prowess, few know that Sir Isaac Newton worked as a warden at the Royal Mint. In fact, Newton worked hard to eliminate the scourge of counterfeiting in the capital and this incredible tale is told here in detail.
Exhibition-goers will also learn about how Elizabeth I spearheaded a major financial recovery following disastrous money-making projects undertaken by her father Henry VIII, including the circulation of coins made from base metals. The queen succeeded in restoring a debased currency and won trust for English merchants around the world.
Coins and Kings will showcase flagship items from the collection of the Royal Mint Museum alongside interactive displays and outdoor installations. In addition to telling stories from the upper echelons of society, the Tower says visitors can experience what life was like for the hardworking citizens who mass-produced coins for the nation – and how emerging technology affected their livelihoods.
The Tower of London is a perennially popular destination for tourists staying at hotels in London. Coins and Kings: The Royal Mint at the Tower opens on May 24th.