The Tower of London and high tea, round two

One of the places I knew we needed to visit when planning our trip was the Tower of London, primarily because I had heard the Crown Jewels were a can’t miss.

The Crown Jewels exhibit features pieces that are still used today by the queen including spectacular crowns, some of which incorporate some of the largest diamonds in the world.

The exhibit was really interesting (unfortunately no photos were allowed) but we actually had more fun traipsing around the grounds of the Tower, a historic castle founded in 1066 that has played an important role in the history of England.

The grounds of the Tower of London.
The grounds of the Tower of London.

Some of the facts we learned:

  • The Queen’s House at the Tower of London had running water and a flushing toilet from as early as 1687.
  • The day before the Earl of Nithsdale was scheduled to be executed he escaped by dressing up in his wife’s clothes and walking out of the Tower unnoticed.
  • King Henry III had a polar bear that was tied to a long rope so it could go fishing in the Thames.
  • Uncaged monkeys lived in a room where visitors could walk among them. The room was shut down after a monkey attacked a boy. I guess seagulls aren’t the only creatures attacking in these parts.

There was also a creepy hologram at the Royal Mint that fascinated my daughters.

Creepy hologram.
Creepy hologram.

After spending a few hours at the Tower, we couldn’t resist another round of high tea. This time we headed to the Chesterfield Mayfair, which is currently offering a Willy Wonka-themed tea that’s a treat for all ages, especially for those who have seen or are planning to see the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

The Willy Wonka experience, set in the hotel’s enclosed patio featuring white and green decor and lush plant life, started with miniature bottles of fizzy soda, complete with striped straws, and activity packs and little stuffed bears for the kids. Next came milkshakes for them and tea for me, followed by a huge assortment of treats. Their plates included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Wonka chocolate bars, scones, a cupcake and a golden egg. My tower included a selection of five finger sandwiches, two types of scones and a variety of Wonka-themed sweets such as a blueberry macaroon and a chocolate eclair.

Willy Wonka-themed tea at London's Chesterfield Mayfair hotel.
Willy Wonka-themed tea at London’s Chesterfield Mayfair hotel.

It wasn’t cheap, but it was the sweetest way I can think of to slow down and take a break during a busy afternoon.

Author: Kristin Finan

Kristin Finan is a writer, editor and author. Learn more about her at

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