Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Sir Richard Dannatt Sent to the Tower!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 7th September, 2009

Sir Richard DannattThe outspoken former Head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt — who doubtless caused Gordon Brown many sleepless nights with his caustic comments about aspects of the adequacy of provision for British soldiers in Afghanistan — has been sent to the Tower of London. All my O-level history came flooding back to me when I heard that. For many inhabitants of the Tower, it was the ultimate punishment, leading to death. But of course, Sir Richard has not been sent to the Tower as a prisoner (the last people reportedly to suffer that indignity were the Kray twins, for refusing to do military service). Instead, he has been named Constable at the Tower — the person theoretically overseeing the prisoners held there. I don’t know if the Queen was responsible for this appointment, but if so, ‘Nice one, your Maj!’

The Constable historically holds the keys of the Tower of London and to celebrate the arrival of the new incumbent, Tower Hamlets Council is encouraging borough residents to go to their local library or Idea Store (the meedja centres that have replaced many of the old libraries) and hand over unwanted keys, with a tag attached on which they have written a story or some detail of significance relating to each key; these will then form the central feature of an exhibition.  I have a whole drawer full of them; so many memories, but also so many totally forgotten places and objects, even people. Tower Hamlets lead councillor for Culture, Rofique U Ahmed, comments, ‘The keys to the Tower of London have unlocked the secrets of Britain’s most notable historic figures, so this exhibition is sure to interest everybody.’ I am not always flattering about what my local, Labour-controlled Tower Hamlets council gets up to, but this I think is a really neat idea.

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One Response to “Sir Richard Dannatt Sent to the Tower!”

  1. Great to see this idea being picked up. I’ve actually set this up with my work as Outreach and Community Involvement for Historic Royal Palaces who, amongst other historic palaces, look after the Tower of London. We are indeed working along with LBTH and Idea Stores to acheive this project, whilst also encouraging local Tower Hamlets residents to take up the great opportunity of the £1 entry to the Tower.

    If you’d like to know anymore about this or any other matter associated with the Constable’s Installation, please just ask.
    Sarah Phillips,
    Outreach & Community Involvement Officer
    Historic Royal Palaces.

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