This February, celebrate LGBT History Month at the Tower of London and discover some of the landmark’s lesser-known stories brought to life with Queer Lives at the Tower.
A new and immersive after-hours tour combines creative storytelling with live performance to explore the lives, loves and experiences of LGBT+ figures linked with the Tower of London, from the 14th Century to the present day.
Co-hosted by the Tower’s very first ‘drag raven’ – who has drawn inspiration from the fortress’ legendary ravens to create an all singing, all dancing persona – the tours offer a fresh take on the site’s 1,000-year-history, taking in ancient turrets, military battlements and even a medieval royal bed chamber.
Along the way a host of fascinating characters, from King James I and 20th Century Tower prisoner Roger Casement, to Piers Gaveston, a close favourite of the medieval King Edward II, will make an appearance.
The tour uncovers how Edward’s dangerous relationships with young men at court led to rebellion and bloodshed, and reveals just how King James I earned the nickname Queen James.
Written by award-winning playwright Chris Bush and directed by Tom Latter, Queer Lives at the Tower will reflect on the role places like the Tower of London played in some of the darker moments in Britain’s LGBT+ story.
The tour retraces the legislative origins which criminalised homosexual acts to discovering how the homosexuality of Roger Casement was used in Parliament to build a case against him as a traitor to the Crown at the height of the First World War.
The tours will also celebrate stories of defiance, including how, in spite of the risks, reputable gentlemen historically collected and displayed buttons from the jackets of Fusiliers stationed at the Tower, acquired as sexual trophies at a time when homosexuality was a criminal offence in the British Army, and consider the impact of changing public attitudes on those who live, work and visit the Tower today.
Historic Royal Palaces has a dedicated programme of LGBT+ events in 2020, offering a fresh take on some of the palace’s lesser-known histories.
The tours run on February 15, 22, 24, 25 and 26.
For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.hrp.org.uk