Historian Charles Farris discusses the glittering new Jewel House display and why groups may want to add the Tower of London to their hit list. 

The Crown Jewels played a prominent role in King Charles III’s coronation ceremony and procession in May, and now they are back at the Tower of London for visitors to enjoy on a visit. 

The Jewel House, where they are displayed, has now been transformed with a new display exploring more stories than ever before about the history and significance of the Crown Jewels. We hear from historian Charles Farris. 

What is your role at Historic Royal Palaces and what was your involvement with the project?

Charles Francis, publish historian for Historic Royal Palaces

Source: ©Historic Royal Palaces

Charles Farris.

I’m a public historian in the curators team at Historic Royal Palaces helping to research and share the stories of our amazing palaces. In this project I have been researching the collection and working closely with colleagues across the organisation to present the exciting new Crown Jewels exhibition at the Tower of London.

Whilst the Crown Jewels are the main stars of the show, what highlights can visitors look forward to seeing?

We hope to wow visitors with amazing objects from the very start of the exhibition. We are also really excited to share the rich history of this magnificent collection in more depth and detail than ever before. Whether you are interested in history or just want to marvel at these incredible objects we hope we have created an exhibition which everyone will enjoy.

Historian holding the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

Source: ©Historic Royal Palaces

Groups can see the Crown Jewels like never before at the Tower of London

The new display aims to tell stories not previously told – which story stands out to you the most?

There are so many fascinating histories it is really hard to choose. We know visitors are particularly interested in the origins of the collection and we have worked hard to share these stories. These include the destruction and remaking of the Crown Jewels in the 1600s, and the stories of famous diamonds like the Koh-i-Noor and the Cullinan I.

“I hope visitors will find it thought-provoking, inclusive, and inspiring.”

Can visitors see anything new?

Yes, lots. The first half of the Jewel House in particular has been transformed and displays several objects never shown before in the Jewel House at the Tower of London. There’s also new films, music, interpretation and set design which come together to tell the stories and bring the spaces to life. We hope visitors will be swept up in the magic and splendour of Coronations with the beautiful new displays.

Why has this year been chosen for the opening?

With 2023 seeing the first Coronation in 70 years, there has never been a better time for people to come and learn about the jewels and to appreciate these awe-inspiring objects in person.

Tower of London

The Tower of London has stood on the banks of the Thames in London for nearly 1,000 years.

Is the display fully accessible?

One of our key priorities in creating the display was making it more accessible, with additions including enhanced tactile 3D models for visually impaired visitors. The exhibition is also fully accessible to wheelchair users.

What is your favourite item and how would you sum up the exhibition in three words?

I’m not allowed a favourite - but as a medievalist, I do have a soft spot for the 12th century Coronation Spoon. It’s really beautiful and such a miraculous survival. Just three? That’s really tricky. I hope visitors will find it thought-provoking, inclusive, and inspiring. I know that’s four, but it would be wonderful if some future historians were inspired by their visit.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity which cares for the Tower of London. The new display is a permanent fixture at the venue and is included in the admission price, with discounts available for group bookings.

Groups can also enjoy a wild floral display in the summer months around the tower’s historic moat. More details can be found here.

More information on general visits is available at www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london.