ceremony of the keys

Apr 24th, 2000, 10:59 AM
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ceremony of the keys

could anyone please tell me what exactly is the ceremony of the keys? Ben, please help me!
Apr 24th, 2000, 11:06 AM
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I am not the excellent Ben, but I can give you the basics--If I leave something out, perhaps Ben will respond.
It is ceremony that's been performed nightly for over 700 years, it's worth the effort to get tickets. Write to Ceremony of the Keys, 2nd Floor, Waterloo Block, HM Tower of London EC3N4AB. Include two international reply coupons (available at your post office).
Indicate the names and addresses of you and each member of your party, desired date and alternate dates and include a large, self-addressed envelope. Allow four to six weeks for a reply.
You are requested to arrive no later than 9:30pm, the ceremony actually begins at 9:55 and is finished by 10:05.
No photography is permitted. Kids and adults all love it. It's historical, it's a little creepy because it's nighttime, it's safe, and it's short.
It reminds us that the Beefeaters are not just tour guides, they are there to guard Her Majesty's Tower.
Apr 24th, 2000, 11:15 AM
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Sorry pat
the most basic detail of all: it is a ceremony marking the nightly locking-up of Her Majesty's Tower.
Apr 24th, 2000, 12:45 PM
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Elaine gave a great explanation of the Ceremony of the Keys. Even though you can't take photos during the ceremony, you might want to bring your camera anyway. After the ceremony the Beefeaters were happy to have their picture taken with the guests. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera.
Apr 25th, 2000, 10:43 AM
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I made the mistake of limiting the dates I requested tickets for. My first request listed three dates. The response came back in less than three weeks, no tickets available. It cost me another postage and IRC to send them every date I would be in London and could go. Again, less than three weeks later, my ticket arrived. Moral: Don't limit your dates if at all possible. By all means list your dates in terms of preference but list them all. Save $. Can't wait--5 weeks to go!
May 4th, 2000, 12:38 PM
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Good advice, all. I witnessed the ceremony a few weeks ago and, if nothing else, it is a very unique experience and one that many seasoned travelers miss. In fact, I kind of hate to see it posted here because of the increased publicity. There were only 11"civilians" there when we went, four from Chicago who'd seen it before and were back for a second look. I took along two other Americans, both seasoned travelers to London, neither of whom had even heard of it, along with an English Friend from Great Yarmouth and he'd not heard of it either! So again, it is a singular experience. When you fill out the address section of your request application be exact. My first attempt was refused for not including one of my friend's zip code, although his city and state were the same as mine. They want DETAILS.
Have a ball...
May 4th, 2000, 02:53 PM
wes fowler
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It appears that the responses you've received have raved about the ceremony and told you how to get tickets but nobody has answered your question as to what the ceremony actually is! In what is now a tradition over 700 years old, the Tower of London is locked up every night. Each of the Tower's gates is locked by a Yeoman Warder who wears the Beefeater's uniform, carries a lantern and is accompanied by an escort of foot guards. A small group of curious tourists who've secured tickets well in advance are led by a Warder to the Bloody Tower. At the archway by Bloody Tower a sentry challenges the Warder: "Halt! Who comes there?" "The Keys." "Whose keys?" "Queen Elizabeth's keys." "Advance, Queen Elizabeth's Keys. All's well!" The keys are then taken to the Queen's house. The entire ceremony encompasses only about fifteen to twenty minutes and is a fascinating introduction to one of the many purely British traditions.
May 5th, 2000, 08:54 AM
David White
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Please feel free to look at my article on the Ceremony. It is posted at:


Sep 7th, 2000, 04:17 PM
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to the top
Sep 8th, 2000, 07:51 PM
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went there about three weeks ago and thought it was facinating. My family (three kids ages 10,12 and 14)and I went to the Tower earlier in the day to see the jewels and the sights and then returned at night for the "locking up " ceremony. You must request passes ahead of time. I requested about 10 weeks earlier. Was rejected first time for lack of complete info. They want names, addresses, ages, relationships, dates. be very specific ! Worth the visit !
Do it !

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