For LGBT+ History Month, a special event is hitting the Tower of London. ‘Queer Lives’ is an after-hours tour that blends theatre and history as it explores the LGBTQ+ people who lived, loved, and died at the historic landmark. The tours are hosted by an extravagant ‘raven’ tour guide, with a cast led by singer and actress Mzz Kimberley – aka Kim Tatum – who will become the first trans woman to lead a theatrical performance at the Tower of London.
Following a successful run back in 2020, the tour returns for just a handful of nights through February, with performances running on select dates between February 18 and 25. Guests will travel on a journey through 700 years of history, drawing from extensive research by Historic Royal Palaces curator Matthew Storey. Stories will run through characters from the 14th century all the way through to the present day, celebrating defiance, and remembering the LGBTQ+ stories linked to the famous fortress throughout the years.
Said Matthew Storey, Curator, Historic Royal Palaces:
“We are incredibly excited to welcome back Queer Lives at the Tower, offering an opportunity for people to explore the Tower of London in a moving, but exciting, way. This theatrical experience unpicks the pathos and humour of LGBTQ+ figures associated with this famous fortress, shining a fresh light on both familiar and forgotten voices.”
What happens on the tour?
‘Queer Lives’ will treat guests to a unique view of the Tower of London, with the tour encompassing ancient turrets, military battlements and a medieval royal bedchamber. Along the way, they’ll encounter plenty of characters from the storied past of the London landmark.
Learn how “King Edward II’s relationships with young men at court sparked rebellion and bloodshed.” Uncover the truth behind the rumours of Edward’s relationship with his closest political and emotional ally, Piers Gaveston – the two often thought to be lovers. You’ll also find out about Edward’s marriage, how he never took a mistress, and how “even at his wedding banquet the King is said to have given more attention to Gaveston than to his new Queen”.
But that’s not all. Visitors will also learn about King James I, nicknamed “Queen James” for the many rumours surrounding his male favourites and possible lovers. And much, much, more.
Said Kim Tatum – aka Mzz Kimberley:
“Being the first trans woman to lead a show in such a historical building is a thrill. It’s exciting that our history and truth is being told when so much of LGBT history has been forgotten. People want to hear the truth and Queer Lives will help LGBT people to feel they are part of important history.”
When do Queer Lives tours take place?
The LGBT+ history tours of the iconic fortress will run on February 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, and 25. The tours last approximately 50 minutes, with performances running at 5:30, 6:30, and 8:00PM each day. British Sign Language (BSL) interpreted tours will run on 22 February 2023.
Adult tickets cost £25, with concession tickets priced at £20. Historic Royal Palaces and Equity Members can secure tickets for £22.50. Tickets to ‘Queer Lives’ do not include daytime admission to the Tower of London or access to the Crown Jewels. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Head here to purchase your ticket now.
What was the tour like?
Our resident Senior SEO Writer Sam was lucky enough to visit the Tower on one of the tours, and here’s what he had to say:
“The tour was really great and the actors all gave it their all throughout the 50-minute show. I learned things I had no idea about and really came away with a great understanding of all the LGBTQ+people who lived, loved, and died at the historic landmark. It was also fantastic to be in this infamous prison and Royal Palace after dark – some great photo opportunities were had! I’d thoroughly recommend it if you’re looking for a unique insight into this iconic building“.