Croissants and crowns at the Tower of London
The Croissants and Crowns event, hosted by charity, Historic Royal Places, gave “losing your head at the Tower of London” a whole new meaning.
The breakfast event started with a tour of the Crown Jewels, which is where I lost my mind because being in the presence of the world’s biggest diamonds at 8am was a lot to handle. The Crown Jewels have been kept at the Tower of London for 600 years; yes, they are the real ones. During the tour Jade Jeffrey, senior events executive told me no carbonated drinks can be consumed in the Tower’s walls as they’re corrosive and could do a lot of damage.
Imagine explaining to Queen Elizabeth II you’ve ruined her crown because you tripped and spilt your carbonated drink.
But fear not, because there’s almost zero chance of spilling corrosive drinks, or anything for that matter, on these key pieces of British history, considering they’re locked behind glass casing and constantly under the watchful eye of the Tower’s Beefeaters (Yeomen Warders).
During its 1000-year history, the Tower of London has also housed royalty, high-status prisoners and a bear called Martin, hence Martin Tower where he lived. Now it homes the Tower’s Beefeaters, thousands of the world’s most precious gems and some pampered Ravens who can’t leave the Tower walls in fear of the kingdom falling.
Jeffery told me that the Beefeaters do more than just make the Tower of London look historically on brand. They also get involved with events, from escorting guests between venue spaces, to sitting down with guests to delve into the Tower’s history and a pudding.
Laura Drake, commercial events manager at the Tower of London said: “What more could you ask for than being met by an iconic Beefeater, a private viewing of the Crown Jewels and having your event in a castle in the heart of one of the best cities in the world! The Tower of London also boasts a fantastic central location, with the river, tube, train and London City Airport all on our doorstep.”
These factors are especially attractive to international clients, as Jeffery revealed that almost 93 per cent of bookings come from corporate companies and almost 65 per cent incentives, mostly booked by international clients for either the opening or closing night of the trip.
Drake added: “In general, comments on the night are ‘how amazing to be inside such an iconic London building privately, who know you could hire it out.”
The Tower’s venues
Since royalty, the prisoners and Martin moved out, the tower has a lot of free space which has successfully been turned into event venues, as I saw on my tour.
In total there are eight event spaces inside the Tower of London, which can accumulatively host up to 2,000 guests. These including the Jewel House, White Tower, New Armouries and Wakefield Tower, where King Henry VI is rumoured to have been murdered.
But don’t let that put you off your dinner because there’s almost no area in the Tower of London that hasn’t witnessed a murder.
After the tour of the Crown Jewels, we entered the New Armouries Banqueting Suite – the largest venue by capacity. Here Food by Dish, a trusted partner of Historic Royal Places, showcased a sample of the breakfast options including fruit, avocado on toast as well as bacon rolls and chicken waffles.
Then ensued 15 minutes of technology-driven fun provided by team-building experts, Wildgoose. In groups of five, we embarked on an interactive treasure hunt, involving us recreating historic scenes and squawking like ravens.
Drake said: “We pride ourselves on being very adaptable. The New Armouries has just had a significant upgrade on the AV facilities and we have really pushed the boundaries of client requests and expectations with our approved production suppliers over the last few years.
“From logo projection and mapping to fitting five plasma screens into the White Tower – a 1000-year-old building – we welcome the challenge to find a solution and make it work.”
After breakfast, we headed to the White Tower which can host 90 seated guests for dinner and 250 for a drinks reception. Jade explained it’s a good place for guests to start their night, among the displays of armour worn by kings. The central location of the White Tower provides a focal point for companies hosting themed nights, as animated scenes can be projected onto the exterior walls using the logo projection technology Drake mentioned.
“Late last year we had an internal event which was Safari themed,” added Jeffery. “We projected images of exotic animals on to the White Tower, it looked amazing.”
The Tower also offers the “Tower Takeover” where guests are free to explore the many buildings within the Tower complex and enjoy drinks and canapés in one of the event spaces.
Brexit doesn’t seem to have affected people’s desire to dine with the Crown Jewels either. Drake said: “We have had some clients uncertain of colleagues being able to travel which has resulted in asking to prolong the hold of a date. We haven’t seen a drop-off generally in event bookings though!”
Hosting an event at the Tower of London would mean not only providing your guests with an awe-inspiring experience but would also contribute to the conservation of the millennium-old Tower and five other Historic Royal Places the charity runs, including Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.
As King Henry VIII once said: “Of all losses, time is the most irrecuperable for it can never be redeemed,” but at the Tower of London, with so much to discover, not a moment will be wasted.