This is what it’s actually like to live in the Tower of London, from the guy who does
Tom Houghton is a comedian, son of a Baron and official Tower of London resident
Not many people alive today can tell you that they’ve lived in the Tower of London. One of those who can is comedian Tom Houghton, who you’ve probably seen recently all over your TikTok as he documents his unique Tower of London life living inside the oldest palace in Britain.
@honourabletomThey never believe that I live there!♬ original sound – Tom Houghton
TikTok has become the perfect platform for people who live in unconventional and spectacular places to share their home life with the world. During lockdown, when escapism through our phones is all we really had, it’s been cathartic seeing people share their lives that are so different to ours – from a whole town living in one apartment block in Alaska to a scientist sharing her life on a research base in Antarctica. And now we’ve got the Honourable Tom Houghton: the resident Tower of London funnyman and TikTok creator.
I caught up with Tom to ask him all the burning questions about what it’s like to actually live in the centre of history:
Hi Tom! Jumping straight in with the big one: Why and how do you live in the Tower of London!?
Hello! So, I lived in Brighton for 10 years with my former comedy group. I left them to go solo, and moved up to London where there was more opportunities. At that time, my dad became the constable of the Tower of London. I had the choice of spending several thousands of pounds a month living in zone five, or living with my dad in the historical palace in the centre of the capital.
I was due to move out, but then Covid happened and my career got put on hold. I figured maybe Covid was the wrong time to be moving into a new house.
Yeah, and there are worse places to be locked down than in the Tower of London…
Well, historically speaking, that’s not exactly true! It’s one of the WORST places to be locked down!
True! I’ve been hooked on your TikToks because I’m obsessed with seeing people’s lives living in unconventional spaces and it’s so refreshing seeing such an inside look at history on TikTok.
It was my girlfriend who said to me that I should do TikToks on living in the Tower of London. She said the best videos are ones that are funny, informative and unique. And you’re a comedian who lives in the Tower of London. I used to think TikTok was just for kids doing dances but she was totally right! I try and keep the TikTok stuff educational and with a funny Tower of London insight.
You said you moved there because of your dad’s job. What does your dad do?
My dad is the ex Chief of Defence Staff. So, he’s the ex professional head of the entire British military. When he retired, he got made a Baron. Then the Queen asked him to be her representative at the Tower of London. At the Tower of London you have the governor of the Tower of London and then you have the constable of the Tower of London. If you imagine them as like the Prime Minister and the Queen – the governor takes care of the day to day running of the Tower and then the constable is like the figurehead at the top.
I see! Was it a strange adjustment moving into somewhere like the Tower?
I guess the main adaption is that you now have to understand that you’re living in history. You’re living in a very impressive place that means a lot to people. You can’t just be having mass raves in the Guy Fawkes room.
And also adjusting to living in a tourist attraction!
Yeah, You can’t just like, walk round your house naked. I did actually get told by the Beefeaters that they kept getting reports of a naked man walking past the windows and it was definitely me just going for a shower.
Do you ever get spooked by being in such an old building?
It’s definitely spooky. You just know lots of death has happened in your house. It’s creaky, there’s mice running everywhere. There was a woman that died in my bedroom. She was 39 when she died, but there’s a picture of her as a 22 month old toddler up in my room. Before she died, she was refusing food and drink and got very ill. When I moved in, I took her picture down and when I did I instantly became very violently ill myself. I couldn’t eat or drink. I’m convinced her ghost was cursing me. It was only when I put the picture back up that I felt better.
@honourabletomI got cursed by a ghost in my bedroom! Join me live at the Tower for more ghost stories, details in the comment section… 👻🏰♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod
Are there any parts of the Tower of London you’d be too scared to go at night?
I don’t like going into the bell tower cell or the Thomas Moore cell. They’re the really old bits. The Thomas Moore cell’s in my house and at night I just wouldn’t go in there.
Do you ever see any celebs just around outside your house?
It wasn’t too long ago I looked out and saw Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Holland on my front lawn. They filmed Spiderman 2 here. One of the Beefeaters is best friends with Tom Hardy, so he comes to the pub to drink sometimes. Tom Cruise was here filming one of the Mission Impossible films. Emma Stone filmed Cruella here recently.
Right, important one: Is getting a takeaway to the Tower of London just as much of a nightmare as your TikTok suggests!?
At first it was! But now the Beefeaters have put me onto the takeaways that know the score. The ones that understand that people actually live here. So I’ve got the system down. At first I’d say I was actually at the Tower and the takeaway guys would be like… What, Tower Hamlets? I’ve got to cross two battle gates and a moat to get my pizza.
Same with my food shopping in the daytime. I’ve just got to come through a load of tourists with my Tesco bags. There’s no special way in!
I know you said you couldn’t throw raves, but have you had any Tower of London house parties?
I’ve had very nice, civilised dinner parties here. One of the last ones I had was with Paul Sinha from The Chase, he’s a good friend of mine. He was getting married and I threw him one as a wedding present because obviously he loves history.
Are you allowed to decorate how you want or is there rules?
There are rooms that you can’t touch at all. Like, seriously cannot touch at all. I can put a few bits up in my bedroom. In my house there’s private rooms and public rooms, where they do tours of. So for example, the chamber room is the room where Guy Fawkes was interrogated in. Couldn’t put a thing in there. In those rooms it’s like don’t even be in there for long if you don’t have to.
What would happen if you fell over and broke something?
There has been times where if certain things go wrong in the house a historian comes to double check. A bloke in a full on tweed jacket and monacle. Because it’s history. You’re living in a museum, essentially. I couldn’t possibly tell you about the stuff that’s gone wrong, but I’ve had a historian check on me once or twice.
What’s the protocol with having your mates over?
I mean, I can’t have 30 mates to the Tower of London to film a TikTok with me, but my good mates can come round. In the day it’s fine really, but at night I’d have to let someone know. You’ve just got to be respectful and not take liberties.
I think that would be a hard adjustment for me, getting used to checking everything you do with guards?
I agree. It’s hard, and you do sometimes miss the freedom that having your own place gives you. I’d like to go out till 3am and stumble back in without having to see a Beefeater and a night watchman.
From a gay perspective, I was thinking… how on earth would I do a Grindr meet in the Tower of London?
Well, there is a sign in and out book for after 12am. Say, I brought a stranger back off Grindr in the early hours they’d be very suspicious of that, because there’s no reason why someone wouldn’t just steal or break something. It’s not worth the risk.
@honourabletomjust a few shots of the many many magical bits of the tower♬ Peaches – Justin Bieber
What’s the most hard to believe thing that’s happened to you whilst you’ve lived there?
I love being able to say the statement in December that I’ve woken up to find someone has built an ice-skating rink in my moat.
This is so trivial, but the first thing my friends told me to ask when I said I was interviewing you was is the wifi shit?
TERRIBLE! It’s the free one and it’s so bad. We’ve tried so many methods to get it better but nothing works. It’s because the building is so old. It’s annoying because I’m trying to loads of social media content and wifi is really important. I’m also in a long distance relationship and my girlfriend lives in Munich, so at the moment we are both in a relationship which is 12 megapixels.
What’s the best thing about living in the Tower of London?
Besides the no rent and central location, it’s obviously just COOL. It’s a talking point. It’s fascinating and I’ve learnt so much about history. That’s the best thing.
And finally, what’s the worst thing about living in the Tower?
No massive Grindr orgies.
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