Queen Elizabeth placed me in charge of Englands Defense works

Bell Towertower cellThis is the cell in the tower that the tour guide says Thomas Moore was kept a prisoner. From the outside it is one of the 'slits' on the tower at the left. He was actually kept most of the time in a deep pit in the dungeon and each day was invited to change his mind about the validity of the kings divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Then he was told when the next high tide was, since the water rose to his chin sometimes. Go here to see how you would stand up to the same treatment. That knowledge combined with this description of Thomas Moore's cell confirms that they are lying about that nice apartment being the real cell.

When, during his imprisonment in the Tower, his daughter Margaret wept at the sight of his cell he told her: "I assure thee on my faith, my own good daughter, if it had not been for my wife and you that be my children, whom I account the chief part of my charge, I would not have failed long ere this to have closed myself in as strait a room, and straighter too." Here

Pigeon admissions
Let's look at this logically. If that was a cell used for prisoners then they could have easily kicked out the thin window and dropped themselves about fifteen feet to between the inner and outer wall. Then it is/was a short dash past two guards at the front gate and directly to freedom. 

Those specific windows were built only to keep arrows out, not to keep anyone inside. They were for archers to shoot out of and they were kept thin to maintain a clear field of vision. Thus the stones around the slots could have been kicked out.  It might have taken a few days of kicking to break up the mortar holding them in place but it would not have kept anyone inside for very long. If you had even a board to use as a tool then anyone could have been out in a couple of hours.

Now lets look at it from a totally illogical but fun viewpoint. Just click the start button of the TEDDY-O-RAMA to view how to escape from the bell tower at the Tower of London.

The secret is that it was all a cover up for pigeons which were kept in the tower and were the early warning system of England.  That you can read about them on my bird page.

There were prisoners held nearby and the real torture for them was the bell tower itself. Those bells ring but the prisoners did not know when. They just waited on edge with their nerves frayed until it rang and the loud clang without any warning drove them mad. How did Princes Elizabeth survive? The warder and her guards told her when to cover her ears. They would have been executed for going against a direct order of Queen (Bloody) Mary which constituted treason but they liked Elizabeth a lot and knew that Mary was coming unhinged herself. She was not going to be queen much longer, one way or another. The odds were slightly in favor of her committing suicide and un aided suicide at that over any other means of her getting removed from the throne. There were bets laid on every possible way she would vacate the throne and that was the method most people bet on.

Did you know there is a secret entrance to the Tower of London near the Bell Tower? I guess you didn't.
As I recall it may have opened into the moat that used to surround the tower. Then there was another tunnel that went under London to the queen quarters. It was used to take the message from the pigeons directly to the queen. More often it was the other way around and it was so the queen could send messages in secret and guess which scribe/lady of the bedchamber muddied her dress a lot while taking those secret messages to the tower pigeons? I'm sorry, I don't know which room it was. I can't help you there. I never went inside. It was bad enough that my expensive court dresses were muddy, bird poo would have ruined them completely. Think I should start a tour company of Renaissance London including the tower?

This statement is incorrect: The Bell tower is unusual in having a polygonal base and circular upper storey which indicates that it was probably built in two stages
.Here The upper part is circular because a battering ram could not reach it.

The base is polygonal because the flat sides could sustain the forces exerted by a battering ram and other siege weapons better than if it was circular.  Glancing blows by a battering ram at an angle against a circular wall could shear off entire sections very easily. Mortar and rock are similar to concrete in that they cannot sustain shear forces. Compression yes but not shear forces. You can easily tear concrete but not smash it. Another word for this effect is 'brittle'. 

Flat walls are different since they only had to sustain compression forces (being banged against).
It's also much harder to make a tight fit with a round walls, since the stones have to be tapered, than with flat walls which can easily be made to fit tightly since the stones are easily ground to a rectangular shape.

Of course the easiest to shear off sections were right angle walls like the corners. So a very hard and tough rock was chosen for the corners. Since it was the most important part, the entire building was built around it. That is why the word 'cornerstone' is used for the critical basis of anything.

Look at what they did at the Tower of London.
Tower Facade
They put a thin layer of loose fitting rocks on the face of the Bell Tower (big picture) to make someone try to use a battering ram to break in but underneath that thin layer of loose fitting rocks (near the sign) they are very tight fitting! Attacking here would expose the attackers. Those English are smart but they should patch up this part of the tower so that the next time someone tries to invade and shows up with a battering ram they will fall for the trap. Maybe those pesky revolutionary Americans will invade. 

Tower of London invasionOh, I am to late, they seem to have already taken it over.

building craneAs ships got larger there was a real possibility of the outer wall being breached by a ship with a long tree trunk protruding out the front like a very long bow sprint. Using lines from the mast to support it made it like a construction crane (see right) or a suspension bridge so that it could reach clear over the moat, the two walls and almost to the white tower where the crown jewels were kept. Please play the IMPROVED Teddy-O-rama1 (below) to gain a fuller understanding of the problem we faced.

We did some experiments to see how long we could make the bow sprint that sticks out in front of the ship. We ran two lines from the top of the mast to help support the extension which we made almost 300 feet long. However, it was so thin and wiggled so much that only one man at a time could crawl out to the end.

At 200 feet it was another story. The ramp we made was still strong enough to march a regiment of Spanish soldiers across it along with a few knights too.

The problem as you can clearly see on this or any map is that the distance from the river to the Bell Tower is only about 180 f t. That was easy to breech and we reproduced it to look like an obstacle course and tested sailors to see if it would work.
It took 5 minutes to get 50 men across but we could have gotten it down to two minutes with practice. 

The other worry was that pirates would steal two English ships. Many ships had masts that were over 200 feet long and all they really needed to do was come alongside the dock and then chop the mast down like a tree, steal the crown jewels and sail off down the Thames River in about 8 minutes. The soldiers could run right across the mast on the rigging and jump on the top of the tower wall.

At the right I used the famous English ship Mary Rose for an example and it is about to the proper scale.

This is:
How to mount a successful invasion of the Tower of London without modern weapons and without your fathers gold card to buy tickets with. 

William Cecil had a meeting about 1585 concerning the defense of the tower against the potential attack that I described in Teddy-o-rama 1. We met on the tower wall so that he could explain it easily. William's son, Robert (before I married him), and Sir Francis Drake were already there when I arrived.

I was there representing the queen since I was a maid of honor at the time and she had chosen me specially. They immediately wondered why Queen Elizabeth would send a playwrite to deal with with defense work. Although they had said the battle descriptions in my plays were quite accurate I could see in their eyes they didn't think that qualified me at all.

William told us about that vulnerability and told us he had just discovered it. The tower had been built about 500 years before when there were almost no large ships. He pointed out to us how easily that scenario could succeed.

I thought that was brilliant for him to think of, then I added that 'they could also just pull sideways to the wall, then chop the mast off, climb over the wall and then use another ship to leave'. (Teddy-o-rama 2) He glared at me for about a minute, his mouth twitched and eyes blinked (all Cecil men did both when they got emotional) for a minute then he said, 'young lady that took me five years to think of.' Then he turned and walked away saying over his shoulder to me, 'Now suppose you figure out how to prevent both of them from happening.'

Then we figured out how to rig a chain at the bridge if they tried to escape up river.

The only thing preventing a country (or pirates) from trying was their lack of the intelligence of their commanders. The Spanish were different. They paid big bucks to spies. In previous years lots of the lower windows along the docks and the London Bridge had been sealed, thinking that the plague came from the bad river air. When spies needed money they conveniently invented huge cannons behind those windows. Then when they wanted more money they made them larger in their heads and then reported them to the Spanish. These invented cannons are probably the main reason that London was never fired upon by the Spanish. 

You can see that there were lot's of ships that could have been stolen or that the Spanish could have imitated that were cruising around the Tower at all times just like you can see in this drawing.

However, there was something that would have kept this from working even if Spain had thought of it. It was the previously mentioned chain at London Bridge a few hundred yards up river. We put in secret heavy chains that would pop up under the water at the London bridge and block any ship in case the bridge ever got taken over. (but you are not supposed to know that so forget I told you).

However, I should tell you the rest before I ask you to forget it. There was an old rope knotted at the edge of the bridge that went under the water. That rope prevented the chains from popping up. Four people had sharp knives and knew when to cut it. They were usually widows of sailors who had died. They were given their pension and free housing right near the bridge. They were proud to carry on in their husbands absence. 
It was such a desired job that there was a waiting list and they had to leave after ten years so someone could do it. 

We were involved in protecting the south drawbridge. I just now read this about the north end of the bridge and how they tore down the New Stone Gate and replaced it with Nonesuch House in 1577. Although I was not involved it was part of the earlier changes that William Cecil had already made so that the bridge could be defended easier. I do vaguely recall the issues involved in this decision although it was before I got involved.

The south side of the bridge was relatively undefended unlike the north side which was very near the Tower (so it was easy to defend). Besides there were lots of people in London who could run to the rescue. However, the south side was a whole other matter. it was very easy to prevent a force from coming across the bridge and there was no military or policing presence on the south side of the river so it needed vast improvement first and I am pretty certain that is why they did it in 1577. 

I just realized that you probably don't care at all. It was the biggest issue that London had 420 years ago. I guess you had to be there. On second thought, never mind about getting that wall on the Bell Tower fixed. By the way, when did all those American tourists invade the tower?

If they were to sail off down river then there was no solution. However, the river was only about 8 feet deep near the tower. We felt that a large ship with a long bowsprint or high mast would be unable clear the bottom of the river so we didn't do anything.

4 cannons of questionable ancestry

The University of Scotland is very uncertain of the origins of 4 cannons they found off the coast of Scotland (right). Where they came from and even if they could have been from the Spanish Armada is their big question in this pdf report

The answer is that they are almost certainly Spanish cannons. It is very simple to tell if a cannon is pre 17th century Spanish or not.

Spanish Tower CannonsSee the two trunnions, the pivot points on the cannons at the left? Those are on captured Spanish cannons in the Tower of London museum.  The trunnions are the key to what country they came from (big picture). They are on the bottom of the cannons, not near the middle of the cannons like are found on the cannons produced by nearly all other countries. 

So of the 4 guns of questionable origin at least 'gun 3' is a Spanish cannon. I can't tell about the other ones since the location of the trunnions on the other cannons cannot be seen in the picture. 

The fancy flared lip on cannon 4 looks like it's from a merchant ship. It's ornate nature made the merchant ship look fancier than the military cannons. That is mainly so that a navy ship would know right away that the cannon was not stolen from a navy ship. That cannon could have been from a hired merchant ship that the Armada rented for transporting cargo. The Spanish hired a lot of ships for the invasion.

English foundrySpanish cannons were also usually cast differently. They were the only ones at the time that were cast at an angle, not horizontal or end up like the the English cannons were.  Why at an angle or 'end up'? The metal that was used was not very pure so impurities had to be dealt with. If the cannon was cast horizonatally (laying down) then impurities would settle along the length of the cannon and on top of the inner core. Also bubbles would often adhere to the bottom of the inner mold. Both of those would interfere with the shot. 

This was discovered in the early 1500's and soon everyone was casting their good cannons vertically except the Spanish who cast them at a high angle.

By casting it vertically or at a high angle the impurities would pool in a very small area where they could be dealt with by making a separate small indentation at the lowest point of the cannon. This would be ground off later.

They would also bang on the casting  as the cannon cooled with a hammer to break loose any bubbles that were forming.

You can easily see the rough flat area along cannons which were cast horizontally. That was the bottom of the casting where all the impurities settled out and flaked off as the cannon cooled after casting. On some cannons you will have a smooth flat area the length of the cannon. That is because they ground the barrel flat so it would look nice.

The LaBelleThe cannons could possibly be Dutch. The Dutch bought some cannons from the Spanish but only when the Spanish were in control of the country.

Here is another Spanish cannon in California. On the right is a later French cannon salvaged from the LaBelle which involves the U.S. Dept of State.

Another thing is that the Spanish were excellent with was metallurgy such that everyone else's iron was crude by comparison.

If the cannons were made after 1614 then I could be wrong about 'them because I stopped working with English Naval Ordinance shortly after my husband Robert Cecil died. (All this information is from my memories of that life 400 years ago. For almost a decade while a chamber lady and the personal secretary of Queen Elizabeth I was actually in charge of cannon production in England.)

Later, another country might have adapted that same casting technique.

How on earth did I, one of five Maids of Honor get involved in the first place in Naval Ordinance?

Queen Elizabeth had me decide what kind of cannons we English needed because after The Armada's defeat nearly everyone thought the Spanish were certain to come back. However, now we were not afraid of them so everyone in the government wanted their own cannons. One Parliament member wanted 'the biggest ship cannon'' for his entrance hallway at his residence near Piccadilly and another for his garden out back and two for the roof. He might have killed a couple Spanish infantry at the cost of all his neighbors lives. That was a typical Parliament member's attitude then and may still be for all I know so I better watch what I say.

Queen Elizabeth didn't even know how 'the cannon ball came out so fast' so she put me in charge of buying the right cannons, making them and distributing them where they were really needed. It just grew from there.

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