Sources for the Jewel Tower

Until the 1950s, the Jewel Tower was virtually unknown to the public and to antiquarians: the building itself was almost entirely concealed by surrounding buildings. For this reason, it has not attracted the same body of scholarly publication as the rest of the Palace of Westminster, and there are very few historic images of the tower.

Black and white photograph from November 1962 taken during excavation of the Jewel Tower moat, filled with water at that time
A photograph of November 1962 taken during excavation of the Jewel Tower moat (centre left), then filled with water. This is one of a series of photos in the Historic England Archive detailing the scope and progress of restoration, the demolition of adjacent buildings and the excavation of the moat © Historic England (AL1115/012)

Primary Sources

British Library

  • Harleian MS 1419A, fols 159r–185v [inventory of Henry VIII's goods, 1547; published by D Starkey – see below]. 

National Archives

  • Exchequer and Board of Trade: BT 101/78, 101/188, 101/878, 101/953
  • Exchequer: E101/404/18; E101/400/2; E101/401/11; E101/401/19;E101/472/14; E351/3254; E364/89 rot E in dorso; E364/100 rot B; E372/211
  • Office of Works: Work 4/1; Work 6/7; Work 14/348; Work 14/2169, 14/2170, 14/2446; Work 14/2667; Work 29/3292. 

Westminster Abbey Library, London

Westminster Abbey Muniments Book 1, Liber Niger Quaternus, fol 80v. 


Starkey, D (ed), The Inventory of King Henry VIII, vol 1: The Transcript (London, 1998)

Stratford, J, Richard II and the English Royal Treasure (Woodbridge, 2012) [includes a transcript of the inventory or treasure roll made in 1398 or 1399; see also Richard II's Treasure, a website about the treasure roll].

17th-century pottery bowl decorated with a cockerel, imported from Holland, cream and green slip decoration on inner and outer surfaces. From the moat at the Jewel Tower
A number of objects were found during excavation of the moat in the 1960s, including this 17th-century pottery bowl decorated with a cockerel, imported from Holland

Material Sources

There are over 400 recorded archaeological objects associated with the Jewel Tower, mostly post-medieval artefacts recovered during excavation of the moat. Of these the most interesting items are on display at the Jewel Tower, while the rest are held in store.

Also on display are a section of wooden piles and an oak sill-beam, part of the medieval foundation of the Jewel Tower removed during underpinning of the tower in 1954.

Visual Sources

Plans and Photographs in the Historic England Archives

Items in the Historic England Archives at Swindon relating to the Jewel Tower include:

  • two albums of photographs and survey drawings documenting the scope and progress of restorations from the 1940s to the 1960s, the demolition of adjacent buildings and the excavation of the moat (AL1114 and AL1115)
  • property file containing 225 measured drawings of the Jewel Tower, mostly dating from 1949–56 and 1963–4 (PF/JET: P).

More details of these and many other items can be found in the online catalogue. Some material is not yet listed online, including a large collection of aerial photography; for a full search, please contact the search team.

Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive. For details of current charges for these services see the archives price list.

Secondary Sources


Ashbee, J, The Jewel Tower (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2013) [buy the guidebook]

Biddle, M, Colvin, HM, Hale, JR, Merriman, M and Summerson, J, The History of the King's Works, vol 4: 1485–1660, part 2 (London, 1982)

Brown, RA, Colvin, HM and Taylor, AJ, The History of the King's Works, vol 1: The Middle Ages (London, 1963)

Campbell, M, 'Gold, silver and precious stones', in English Medieval Industries, ed J Blair and N Ramsay (London, 1991), 107–66

Chaney, HJ, Our Weights and Measures (London, 1897) [accessed 21 June 2013]

Cherry, J and Stratford, N, Westminster Kings and the Medieval Palace of Westminster, British Museum Occasional Paper 115 (London, 1995)

Colvin, HM, Mordaunt Crook, J, Downes, K and Newman, J, The History of the King's Works, vol 5: 1660–1782 (London, 1976)

Goodall, JAA, 'The medieval Palace of Westminster', in The Houses of Parliament: History, Art, Architecture, ed C Riding and J Riding (London, 2000), 49–67

Hayward, M and Ward, P (eds), The Inventory of King Henry VIII, vol 2: Textiles and Dress (London, 2012)

Journals of the House of Lords (London, 1767–1830) [accessed 20 May 2013]

Shenton, C, The Day Parliament Burned Down (Oxford, 2012)

Stratford, J, Richard II and the English Royal Treasure (Woodbridge, 2012)

Taylor, AJ, The Jewel Tower, Westminster (Ministry of Works guidebook, London, 1956; 2nd edn 1965; rev edn, English Heritage, 1996)

Thrush, A, 'The House of Lords' records repository and the Clerk of the Parliaments' house: a Tudor achievement'Parliamentary History, 21:3 (2002), 367–73 [subscription required; accessed 20 May 2013]

Tout, TF, Chapters in the Administrative History of Mediaeval England: The Wardrobe, the Chamber and the Small Seals, 6 vols (Manchester, 1920–33) [accessed 20 May 2013]

Wilson, C, 'The royal lodgings of Edward III at Windsor Castle: form, function, representation', in Windsor: Medieval Archaeology, Art and Architecture of the Thames Valley, ed L Keen and E Scarff (Leeds, 2002), 15–93

Unpublished Reports

M Bridge, 'The Jewel Tower, Abingdon Street, Westminster, London: tree-ring analysis of timbers', English Heritage Research Report Series 109-2011 (English Heritage, 2011) [accessed 20 May 2013]

Thornton, JH, 'Examination of leather from the Jewel Tower moat, London', AML Reports, Old Series 2782 (1979) [accessed 20 May 2013]


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