13 March 2017
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Yeoman Gaoler Christopher Morton has been announced as the Tower of London’s new Chief Yeoman Warder, promoted to the unique role following 19 years of exemplary service at the iconic fortress.
The Chief Yeoman Warder is the head of the Yeoman Body and is responsible for the management of the rest of the Body which comprises 36 other Yeoman Warders. He also conducts ceremonial duties such as the Ceremony of the Keys, Constables Dues, the Opening Ceremony and State Parades.
Chris is the 18th person to have held the position which dates back to 1914.
Born in Kent, England, Chris’ military career started when he joined The Royal Engineers as a boy apprentice electrician. During his military career he lived between the UK and Germany and served in Canada, Cambodia, Falkland Islands and Iraq. He left the military in 1996 after 24 years’ service, reaching the rank of Warrant Officer Class One.
In 1998 he successfully applied to become a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London and was promoted to Yeoman Serjeant in 2003 becoming the Yeoman Gaoler in 2012.
Chris lives at the Tower of London with his wife Julie, they have two daughters and four grandchildren who like to visit. When not at the Tower they spend time at their home near Thanet in Kent.
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk
The Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection is a designated collection of national and international importance, cared for by Historic Royal Palaces. It contains approximately 12,000 items of historic dress from the 16th century to the present day, providing information about the history of fashion, life at court, British ceremonial traditions, and the lives of key historical figures. Our collection contains items of clothing worn by royalty including George III, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret, Diana, Princess of Wales and The Queen.
No one is exactly sure where the name Beefeater came from but it would be absolutely correct to say the men guarding the Tower prefer the title Yeoman Warder. In fact the full and proper title is Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign's Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary.
To qualify as a Yeoman Warder you must be a former long serving Senior Non Commissioned Officer from the Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Marines. Yeoman Warders are erroneously called ‘Beefeaters’. The most likely explanation is that Yeoman Warders were given a daily ration of meat for their duties. Records show that even in 1813 the daily ration for the thirty men on duty was 24lbs of beef, 18lbs mutton and 16lbs of veal!
There are 21 separate duties that the Yeoman Warders conduct each day, such as answering historical questions, helping visitors and having their photograph taken. They also take part in various traditional ceremonies such as the Ceremony of the Keys, which has been conducted each night without fail for at least 700 years. As well as their duties at the Tower, Yeoman Warders also attend the Coronation of the Sovereign, lying-in-state, the Lord Mayor’s Show and other state and charity fundraisers.