Ceremony of the Keys Tower of London

700 year old nightly tradition

For every evening of the last 700-years at precisely 9:53pm the Tower of London has held an important and methodical ceremony that locks up the fortress for the night. As the crown jewels and other invaluable objects are held here, it is an important ritual and one that is taken very seriously.

It starts with the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower dressed in red, carrying a candle lantern in one hand and the Queen’s Keys in the other. As he walks to Traitor’s Gate to meet members of the Foot Guards who will escort him throughout the procession, the sentry yells

“Halt!“
“Who comes there?“
“The Keys“ replies the Chief Warder.
“Whose Keys?“
“Queen Elizabeth’s Keys.”
“Pass Queen Elizabeth’s Keys. All’s well.”

This cues the start of the colourful enactment that leads the men past the Bloody Tower archway and up towards the broad walk steps.

Although free to attend, it’s usually fully booked for up to a year, so be sure to find a date online in advance. An atmospheric and truly traditional occasion, it’s also entirely unique, and certainly unmissable if you’re a resident of the capital and want to attend something completely different.

Ceremony of the Keys Tower of London Ceremony of the Keys Tower of London Ceremony of the Keys

The Tower of London

St Katharine’s & Wapping
London
EC3N 4AB