This enclosure then received a huge structure of stone which in time came to be called The Great Tower and eventually as it is known today The White Tower. This formed the basis of a residential palace and fortress ideally suited for a king or queen and as history has shown, to its regal occupants the Tower of London became the perfect all purpose complex. Since the first foundations were laid more than 900 years ago the castle has been constantly improved and extended by the addition of other smaller towers, extra buildings, walls and walkways, gradually evolving into the splendid example of castle, fortress, prison, palace and finally museum that it proudly represents today.
The development of the Tower
The Tower of London was begun in the reign of William the Conqueror (1066-87) and remained unchanged for over a century. Then, between 1190 and 1285, the White Tower was encircled by two towered curtain walls and a great moat. The only important enlargement of the Tower after that time was the building of the wharf, begun by Edward III (1327-77) and completed under Richard II (1377-99).
Today the medieval defences remain relatively unchanged, except at the western entrance.
The Tower in the 20th century
The First World War (1914-18) left the Tower largely untouched; the only bomb to fall on the fortress landed in the moat.