‘World’s oldest visitor attraction’ reopens at the Tower of London

This week, the Tower of London reopened what it claims is the iconic site’s longest-running display of historic exhibits – and, accordingly, might be “the world’s oldest visitor attraction”.

The Line of Kings was first shown to the public in 1660. Comprising magnificent suits of armour, authentic weapons and life-size carvings, the collection has been extensively refurbished – correcting long-standing curatorial errors and anachronisms – and is once again available to view in all its glory.

Alex Gaffikin, of Historic Royal Palaces, told the London Evening Standard: “This is a tremendous 21st century re-display and I think visitors will be astounded when they walk in.”

Tower of London
The display was established during the reign of Charles II – immediately after the Restoration of the monarchy, in fact, when Britons might have needed convincing of their king’s right to rule.

Taking pride of place are several magnificent suits of armour, including three tailor-made for the imposing form of Henry VIII and others for Charles I and James II. The Line of Kings also incorporates arms once raised by nobles and pikemen, a rare medieval saddle and curiosities like a 17th century Japanese suit of armour.

It also includes astonishing, intricate wooden carvings of horses and the heads of Charles I and Henry VIII.

Almost all of the exhibits are over 300 years old, meaning curators have resisted the urge to make modern additions. Visitors can be assured, therefore, that they’re gazing at very much the same display as subjects of Charles II did.

However, some corrections have been made – the Tower of London admits that for a long time, a suit of armour was wrongly attributed to William the Conqueror. Furthermore, the 17th century version of the exhibition overlooked all of Britain’s queens as well as infamous monarchs like Richard III.

The Line of Kings is expected to remain at the Tower of London permanently. The venue is one of the capital’s biggest tourist destinations and should prove well worth a visit if you’re staying in luxury London hotels this summer.

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