The Constable of the Tower

The Constable is the most senior appointment at the Tower of London. Our current Constable is General Sir Richard Dannatt GCB CBE MC (as of 1 August 2009).

The Ceremony of the Constable's Dues

Formerly, in the absence of the Sovereign, the Constable would have been among the most powerful men in London. Today the Constable retains the right of direct access to the Sovereign. 

William the Conqueror appointed the first Constable, Geoffrey de Mandeville, in the eleventh century.

Since 1784 the Constable has always been a senior military officer and the Constable's term is five years.

As well as being one of the most honourable positions in the Crown's service, the Constable of the Tower was once one of the most profitable. Perks of the job included any horses, oxen or pigs and sheep that fell off London Bridge.

For every foot of livestock that stumbles into the Tower's moat the Constable received a penny, and any cart that fell in became his property. All the herbage growing on Tower Hill belonged to the Constable. 

The Constable was entitled to demand 6s 8d a year from the owners of all boats fishing for sprats between the Tower and the sea; 1s a year from all ships carrying herring to London and 2d from each pilgrim who came to London by sea to worship at the shrine of St James.

Every ship that came upstream to the city had to moor at Tower Wharf to unload a portion of its cargo for the Constable. These included oysters, mussels, cockles, rushes and wine. This tradition is still upheld at the Ceremony of the Constable's Dues. Every year, one large Royal Navy ship that visits the Port of London delivers a barrel of rum (the 'Dues') to the Constable on Tower Green.

On-demand webcast

Our Constable, General Sir Richard Dannatt GCB CBE MC, was installed as the 159th Constable of the Tower in a ceremony on 7 October 2009.

Taking place within the walls of the infamous fortress, the ceremony culminated in General Dannatt being handed the gold master-keys of the Tower by the Lord Chamberlain, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, symbolising the Constable‘s responsibility for this royal palace.

Experience the ceremony on 7 October 2009 in our webcast. Click here to watch the webcast >