Wednesday, 20 Jan 2021

How many ravens are in the Tower of London? Why do they keep ravens?

Tower of London: Phillip Schofield on raven going ‘missing’

Merlina the ‘Queen’ Raven, said to be “much loved” and “free-spirited” joined the flock at the Tower of London in 2007. But Merlina hasn’t been seen at her home in the 11th Century castle for a few weeks now. A spokesperson for the Tower said: “Our much loved raven Merlina has not been seen at the Tower for several weeks, and her continued absence indicates to us that she may have sadly passed away.

“Though it isn’t unusual for our ravens to roam outside the walls, free-spirited Merlina has previously always returned to the raven master and his team, with whom she shared a wonderfully close bond.

“Merline was our in-disputed ruler of the roost, Queen of the Tower Ravens. She will be greatly missed by her fellow ravens, the raven master, and all of us in the Tower community.”

Wild ravens live between 10 to 15 years. However, the Tower’s birds have been known to live until the age of 40.

During the Second World War, even the ravens did their bit for the war effort by working as spotters for bombs and planes during the Blitz.

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How many ravens are in the Tower of London?

The Tower of London usually has six ravens at any given time, and according to legend, if they ever leave then both the fortress and the kingdom will fall.

Currently, there are seven birds in residence at the historic Tower of London.

The names of the current ravens are Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Erin, Poppy and the late Merlina.

The ravens are free to roam the Tower precincts during the day and preside over four different territories within the walls of the castle.

The species is very intelligent, and they can mimic sounds, play games and solve problems.

The ravens are fed twice a day by the resident Ravenmaster.

The Tower ravens dine out on a special diet of mice, chicks, rats and assorted raw meats.

As a special treat on occasions, they are fed biscuits soaked in blood.

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Why does the Tower of London keep ravens?

It is not known exactly when the ravens first arrived at their dwelling in central London, but their presence is shrouded in mystery and legend.

The presence of ravens at the Tower is traditionally believed to protect the Crown and the premises.

One English superstition states: “If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.”

The first Royal Observatory was housed in the northeastern turret of the castle’s White Tower.

Legend has it John Flamsteed, an astronomical observer, complained to King Charles II the birds were interfering with his view of the skies.

The King, therefore, ordered their destruction only be told if the ravens left the Tower, the White Tower would fall and a great disaster befall the Kingdom.

King Charles changed his mind and decreed at least six ravens be kept at the Tower at all times in an effort to prevent the looming disaster.

The Ravenmaster Chris Skate is a Yeoman Warder or ‘Beefeater’, as they are more commonly known, and is dedicated to caring for the Tower’s unique band of Ravens.

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